The smart folks at Killer Music Group have “dusted off the cob-webs and spit to a shine the newly remastered Four O’Clock Balloon first release of the same title”. I’ve not heard of Four O’Clock Balloon before, but was pleasantly surprised with this debut. The record originally surfaced back in 1997 and the band quickly gained a loyal underground fan base. I feel very lucky to have now become acquainted with this band through this reissue.
Four O’Clock Balloon features Santana band member Tommy Anthony, who seems to have repackaged all of the elements that made the classic pop of the 60s so great into a fresh new gift. Vocally he does a solid job, although he appears to struggle a bit when in his uppermost registry. No big deal, though, as he is in his comfort zone most of the time and is always supported by airy harmonies.
Four O’Clock Balloon is fab powerpop at its finest. The record opens with the muscular groove of “I Need You”, a track that would be very comfortable among those found on any record by The Knack. My favorite tracks include the wonderful “Stood in the Rain”, the infectious “So Long”, and the snappy “More or Less”. A couple other highlights include “Real” and “Ripley”. I also thought the album’s closer, “The Joker Laughs At You” was very good, but the effect applied to the vocal ruined it for me. The production is a bit on the lo-fi side, but the masterful songwriting really carries the day.
The band describes their music as “Liquid rainbow drops from a kaleidoscope sky”. I don’t believe I could say it any better. Any fan of powerpop – especially The Beatles, Enuff Z’Nuff, or Chewy Marble – should make time for Four O’Clock Balloon. Let’s show the boys how much we love this lost gem in hopes of inspiring them to return to the studio to cut a new record full of powerpop goodies!
iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9