The Babalooneys - Late to the Party

The Babalooneys - Late to the Party

For a band with a decidedly unserious name, The Babalooneys' craft is no joke. While there's been recent hype building up with two great Hi-Tide 7"s and a strong (I hear) Surfer Joe 2023 appearance, I had admittedly forgotten about an EP from them way back in 2012. That's a long time to wait before putting out an LP! Well, I'd say it was enough --  what we have on our hands is a true gem of the genre.

"Sittin' on the Line" is a great choice for a first track, as it really tosses it all at you. Despite no real connection to racing, my connection to drag racing music is strong enough that engine noises at the start of a track genuinely do rev me up. The guitars sound absolutely gorgeous, with great drip and sparkling shine, the saxophone is a little bashful on this track but lets you know it's there, the bass is simple but oh-so cool like "Pipeline", and the drums push it along with a modified surfbeat that keeps things perky and interesting but also pushes the song along. It's great, it's enough to get excited about, and it's hardly the peak.

"Pivot Cup" is a chosen single for the record, and the beautiful opening chord perks your ears up right from the start. It's not a terribly complex song, and if we're really being traditional then it shouldn't be. Real 60's stuff is digestible riffs and simple song structures, not just reverbed guitar solos. But there are some great creative touches here too, like when the bass doubles the sax -- not something I think I hear often and it sounds way better than I would guess.

But if you're an adrenaline junkie, maybe these don't do it for you (though I am and they did). I think "South Shore" and "Locked In" absolutely will. Quick-picked, meaner. "Locked In" in particular stood out to me, and I don't think I could describe how it feels much better than the name of the track itself.

A surprise highlight for me was "Tomatillo". I mean, if I were to rank Dick Dale songs, "Taco Wagon" would probably come at the point where I'm no longer thinking about the order, just listing what I could think of. "Tomatillo" absolutely feels like it's reaching for the same vibe, but it's just beautiful, twinkling and twirling and feeling like a dream. And a big part of this is likely the sound engineering on this record, which is beyond good, it's an example. Try to sound like this record.

Late to the Party features three covers, and if I were to find a weakness it would be that these tracks are merely good. They stand up to the originals, but I never felt like they stood apart.

I don't want to dive into every track. I want you to do that. I knew The Babalooneys were good, I knew they'd make trad surf fans happy. I didn't think we'd hear a record that isn't just an easy candidate for traditional surf record of the year, but one of those standouts you see every few years, the ones that stick in your head when you think of "big surf records".

Available on Vinyl through Hi-Tide and Digital on Bandcamp.


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