Album Review: Ballyhoo! – Pineapple Grenade

Album Review: Ballyhoo! – Pineapple Grenade

Ballyhoo! Band

When I first set out to do an album review for the band Ballyhoo!, I didn’t really know what to expect. And after I listened to their newest album Pineapple Grenade for the 3rd time, I still didn’t know what to write… They’re one of those bands that are pretty hard to nail down to a single genre. Are they Ska? Reggae? Garage Rock? Alternative? Pop? Slow punk?  Yes and no. Who knows? I think the more important question is – Who cares?

Not me. Here’s why.

Ska has evolved into so many forms and gone in so many directions over the years – it can really be a mixed bag. I think what sets Ballyhoo! apart is that they don’t seem to cling to any one style within the ska sub-genre, which I think can trap a lot of other bands musically. You can tell from listening to them that they didn’t set out to write a “pop-punk album” nor did they set out to produce a pure ska record. I think they set out to write an album, and they didn’t give two shits about what was or wasn’t “ska”, or “punk” or “whatever else”.

“Run” is the first single off the album, reaching #4 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and #5 of iTunes Alternative Charts the week of its release. It’s got a super catchy call and return that I think could be amazing live!  No strangers to collaboration, they’ve teamed up for the track “No Good”, getting it produced by Rome Ramirez (from Sublime with Rome), and mixed by Paul Leary (of Butthole Surfer’s). Pineapple Grenade is also currently #189 on the Billboard top 200 albums list.  These key tracks are fun, but I was happy to discover that it’s not 14 tracks of filler. Good things are happening in here.

Here is my imaginary interpretation of some of Ballyhoo’s writing process on my favourite tracks.

Track 2: Battle Cry
“Hey, you know what this track needs?”
“Bitching sci-fi guitar?”

Track 7: Instagator

Track 9: When they told me
“I just ate the best fish ‘n’ chips. East coast represent! ”
“Why not”?

Track 11: Outta my mind
“I think my garage is haunted by old school Greenday”
“Awesome. Let’s work with that”

Track 14: Morning Sunlight
“Hey, you know what this track needs?
“Weeping piano riffs and sleepy Hawaiian guitars to lead up to the rock ballad”?

But don’t misunderstand; just because they don’t have a definitive style, Ballyhoo! has definitely got a sound. It works really well for them. Just don’t ask me to describe it.

It’s a pretty solid album, Pineapple Grenade has a lot of really catchy hooks, and its fair share of beach bummin’ tunes.  Honestly, I needed a second listen to really get into the album.  Partially because as a new listener, I had mistaken lead vocalist Howi Spangler’s eerily pitch perfect voice for autotune. It didn’t help that Keyboard/Programmer Scott Vandrey’s backup vocal harmonies just melt together effortlessly. On first listen I thought the record was a bit over produced, but I was wrong. VERY VERY WRONG. They’re just really good at what they do. EERILY GOOD. After the 3rd and 4th listen to the album I wanted more and I started checking out their previous album from 2011, Daydreams… and then a bunch of their live performances. That’s when I realised that’s not pitch correction, that’s his VOICE. That’s how tight this band plays together. With Donald Spangler on drums, and J.R. Gregory on bass, I think they might just start cornering the market on bonfire & beach anthems.

My suggestion? Check out this band! Check out their wicked cover of “40oz to freedom” by Sublime, check out the 2011 release “Daydreams” and most recently the Pineapple Grenade album.  But leave your reservations at the door when it comes to your expectations for what pop-punk-ska-reggae-rock should sound like.  Merrium-Webster’s dictionary describes “ballyhoo” as an “excited commotion”, and I think they nailed it.

[Download Pineapple Grenade on iTunes Here]



You may also like these posts:

Interview: Howi Spangler of Ballyhoo! | 2013 Summer Sickness Tour Preview   [Photos] The Lumineers, Monster Truck, Band of Horses, Mother Mother @ Edgefest 2013   [Photos] Barenaked Ladies @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre (7/11)

Devon - Guest Blogger

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