The highly anticipated 9th album by American reggae rock and punk band Ballyhoo! is officially out there! Shellshock, the 14-track LP, written and produced by the Aberdeen, Maryland-based band features a variety of impressive genre-complementary collaborators from around the world, including The Elovators, Hirie, Iya Terra, Tropidelic, Bumpin Uglies, and Kyle Smith.
This studio album release is accompanied by a number of thoughtful pieces of bonus content, always one of the ways Ballyhoo! goes above and beyond fan expectations. Ballyhoo!’s YouTube channel has begun rolling out live playthroughs of various tracks from the complete playthrough, beginning with some of the albums underdogs, “Prisoner,” “Insomniac,” and “Polarity.” I use the term ‘underdogs’ with love, because the songs are beautifully authentic lyrically, and flesh out the dynamics of the album through their downtempo nature, but they’re competing with high-energy tracks backed by high-profile collaborators sure to attract and direct listeners’ attention.
With that in mind, the popularity of “Drunk Texter (with HIRIE),” should come as no surprise. Typically backed by her San Diego-based band, the Filipino-born, Italian-raised, Oahu-based musician, HIRIE contributes her unique and distinct sound to the vocals of the second verse and subsequent choruses; appearing alongside Ballyhoo! in the official music video.
Prior to reaching that point in Shellshock, you’ll experience the opening track and another one of the album’s initial singles. “Clip My Wings” eases listeners into the experience by highlighting the complex musicality the band is capable of and setting the generally optimistic tone of the LP.
“Sleepin’ on the Couch (with The Elovators)” has quickly become a fan favorite. Delivered with a bit of whimsy and dry wit, the song seeks to encapsulate memories of a better time, “the way it was,” while contextually the lyrics point to having said or done something to warrant being in the proverbial doghouse.
Without a doubt, you’ll be drawn to the uptempo groove of “Just Business (with Kyle Smith)” with its skate-park friendly vibes. “Under the Sun (with Tropidelic)” is soft and slow and ready for love. “The Great Blackout of 2007 (with Bumpin Uglies)” sits somewhere in the medtempo region with a nostalgic and fun feel, like a conversation among friends, but with a horn section.
Frontman Howi 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.”
Well, for one local critic, it happens to be the title track, “Shellshock (with Iya Terra).” The song has a really smooth and steady feel, the power of positive lyrics, selectively placed ear candy, and some wicked guitar licks.
Ballyhoo! hits the road next week with Jimmie’s Chicken Shack for a large portion of their national tour in support of Shellshock before returning to the DMV region. Ballyhoo! will perform back to back festivals this October: Sun Fest in Ocean City, MD and at New Realm in Virginia Beach, VA.
Daniel Warren Hill is an American musician, writer, and motivational speaker. He is best known as the frontman for Washington DC area Alternative Rock band YellowTieGuy, as co-founder of Capitol Groove Collective, and increasing the exposure of artists on a global scale through his work with Alchemical Records.
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Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”