New-wave ska surged into the mainstream with groups such as Save Ferris, Less than Jake and the Aquabats paving the way. Since then, countless ska bands have signed with major labels to get their name out across the country. The next in line of these bands is The Hippos.
A Southern California-based ska band, The Hippos already has a large following in the underground club scene of the Los Angeles area. With its debut album, <i.Heads Are Gonna Roll (Interscope), The Hippos definitely will expand its following.
The album is one of the best debut albums from a small, local band in a long time. The music is loaded with energy and combines an interesting mix of ska, punk and `50s doo-wop. Not only do the songs differ among themselves, but they differ within themselves. Many of the songs integrate the use of a synthesizer, which adds a new dimension to the band’s music.
The first three tracks on the album show the diversity of the band. The first track, “Lost It,” is a generic-sounding song with a lot of horns and guitar. The next song, “Wasting My Life,” utilizes the synthesizer which gives the song a retro, `70s feel but with a bubble-gum oldies chorus. And the third track, “Struggling,” sounds like the theme for a spy movie.
All of the tracks on the album are original except for one. The seventh song on the album is a remake of Naked Eyes’ “Always Something There to Remind Me.” Most remakes are not worth the effort, but The Hippos pull this one off. The `80s song sounds awesome revamped with a modern ska twist. And while most of the songs on the album are catchy, feel-good music, the best song is “Paulina.” It’s a great mixture of more traditional ska sounds with new-wave synthesizer and a little bit of ragtime thrown in.
This is an album that you can listen to from beginning to end without feeling the urge to stop it or skip songs along the way. Heads Are Gonna Roll will definitely be a worthwhile addition to any music collection.