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Ballyhoo! released their 9th full-length album Shellshock and while sticking to their signature sound they have a long list of friends joining them on various tracks, and they do so well fusing their reggae, punk, alternative-rock and pop sound with each artists sound for a fantastic feel throughout the album.  This album was self-produced under Ineffable Records, with a combination of dramatic and impactful lyrics, compelling hooks and attracting melodies, this explosive 14 track album covers a large spectrum of emotions. Front man Howie Spangler says, "The goal with this album was to write and produce the best songs we could. There’s no focused sound or anything like that, in fact it’s all over the place stylistically. But it all sounds like Ballyhoo!. I think there’s something for everyone with “Shellshock”. I’m really proud of what we did, everyone crushed their parts. I can’t wait to see what songs are hitting the hardest with our listeners in the weeks after release."

If you have ever been lead on, hurt or screwed over, you will totally relate to this album, Howie and crew have you covered.  The album starts off with “Clip My Wings” and sets the tone for the album.  This is about taking your life back after others have tried to steal your happiness, with a great hook and really a good song to start us off on this journey. We go right into track 2 and get a different feel with “Sleepin’ on the Couch” featuring The Elovaters.  You instantly feel The Elovaters style come out in this song and Jackson Wertherbee flows so well with Howie.  I like bringing in a different sound right off the bat.  Next up is “808’s and Coffee” with a nice acoustic sound, Howie’s voice really stands out in this.  Great chorus and guitar rhythm.  Three songs in, and three different styles and sounds, I like what they are doing here. We move onto a great Ska tune, “Just Business” with Kyle Smith.  Such a nice upbeat groove, you can’t help but get up and dance to this jam about being hungry to hit that goal you set, nothing is going to stop you!  The guitar solo is amazing in this tune. 

They really slow this down with track 5, “Make Believe.”  This is a sweet slow tune with echoey lyrics, a surreal  groove with some more great guitar play by Sebastian.  This is the type of song to just kick back, chill and light up a spliff.  Love this song, one of my favorites on the album.  We move onto the title track “Shellshock” and you instantly know who has joined them on this song, Iya Terra.  I great mix of Iya Terra’s sound, but also holding onto some of that Ballyhoo! vibe.  Nathan Feinstein sounds so good on this track and he and Howie work so well together.  And we get that great Iya Terra guitar throughout this song, especially the solo.  Another one of my favorites.  I love how each song up to this point is so different, but it flows and works so well.  Next up is perfect for this summer, with all the shark attacks at beaches, “Sharks at the Beach.”  Another great Ska tune, makes you wanna get up and dance, You can bleed out all your dreams, into the open sea, go ahead and make your waves.  Track 8 may be my favorite song, “Drunk Texter” with Hirie.  Once again, another guest and another song they totally hit with keeping with their sound but incorporating the sound of their guest.  Working so well.  I love the rhythm and flow of this song, and once Trish comes in, the song really talks off.  Howie and Trish work so well together, would love to hear more of them together.  Great upbeat bass and drumbeat, and once again, amazing guitar work.  We head over to “Prisoner” an alternative-rock song with a great hook and chorus.  Not one of my favorites on the album, but I love that they went back to their roots with this song. 

We move to track 10 with “Insomniac,”  I’ve been waiting, I’ve been waiting, I’ve been waiting for the sandman!  I love the bassline in this as well as the guitar from Sebastian and Howie.  And the changing tempo throughout the song is very nice.  We come to “Irene” another acoustic song about messing up a relationship.  You can feel the pain and sorry in this song.  Nothing but Howie’s voice and acoustic guitar, once again, another perfect switch-up for the album.  Track 12 is with Tropidelic, “Under the Sun.”  A nice reggae rhythm, another collaboration with a great work of combining both Ballyhoo! sound with Trop.  I am loving the flow of this album and how they put it together. 

You know we needed a song with another Maryland group, so they hit us with “The Great Blackout of 2007” with Bumpin’ Uglies.  Another sweet Ska tune to get us up out on the dancefloor.  Some great horn play in this song.  We’ve heard them do other songs together in the past, and this is right up near the top.  We finish off with “Polarity,” I nice groove to finish off this personal journey from Ballyhoo!  We get a little bit of everything in this song, great lyrics and voice, a nice reggae rhythm, guitar, beats, bass, chorus, changing tempo and on and on.  It really ties up the album and finishes it off strong.   This is an outstanding album, I am a fairly new listener to Ballyhoo! and I think this album definitely moves them up on my play list.  You get a little bit of everything we have heard form them and more, it is great to see a band that has been doing this for quite a while grow and change, but still hold true to their style and groove.  Howie was correct, it is all over the place stylistically, but it sounds like Ballyhoo!

One Love- Todd


Todd Judd

Photojournalist - Pennsylvania

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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