On a surprisingly welcome mild January afternoon I half-heatedly checked my mail seeking a package nearly three weeks overdue. It wasn’t there, but something else was. It was roughly record sized and the sender’s name mysterious if vaguely familiar. I tore open the box and out came the party!
I now have in my possession one copy of Super Fun Time Awesome Party Band‘s highly anticipated second effort “…And Out Come The Balloons!” Originally titled “Pinata,” other names had begun to be tossed around and the band took its fans’ input to heart, finally settling on the perfect play on the classic album by Rancid. With a slightly modified image of drummer Randall on the cover in place of Lars Frederiksen and vibrant and intricate artwork by singer/guitarist Polka Kapolka gracing the back, the record jacket explicitly tempts the listener with all of the fun that is about to begin once the needle is dropped. And mine is a gorgeous purple smoke colored pressing! There’s no telling what you may find when you open yours; the album itself could be any number of colors and designs from a random lottery of options, which is also fun. Collect them all! Trade with your friends!
Three years in the making, the follow up to 2014’s “Super Fun Time Awesome Party Album” wastes no time, appropriately kicking off with the high energy anthem “Party Time.” Some differences are immediately noticeable between this and the band’s last recording: a lot can change in three years’ time and, my, how The Party Band has grown! Trombonist Joseph and saxophonist Sky’s bright horns and Lefty’s rich lead guitar round out and add depth to the group’s sound that was sorely missing from their debut. In addition, and this represents itself live as well, Polka’s vocal yelling style has been honed. Still a far cry from traditional singing, the words now come out in time and accordantly.
The album barely lets up, full of plenty of call-and-response opportunities and songs that will make anyone with a pulse shake their moneymaker. They tackle the tough topics ranging from partying, to getting trashed, to friends, sharting (shitting while farting), and more partying. Side B begins with the skanktastic “Theme IV,” but don’t let the horns or offbeat ska picking scare you. They collate influences from punk, hardcore, and metal as well and blend them all together into a unique sound with the next track, “Shart Attack” being a fine example of their range. Other highlights on this album include the hopeful and unifying “Cheese” and the scarily accurate “Folk Punk Bands” which features the supernatural harmonica skills of your Legendary Hucklebucks’ Ted Bundy.
Both of The Party Band’s albums were recorded right here in Pittsburgh by John of the notable Johnny and The Razorblades at Razorblade Recordings. I hated the sound on their first album and there is no one to blame but the founding three band members for that. I have it on impeccable authority that, for whatever reason, they’d wanted it to sound as if it was recorded in a trash can. Muffled and muddled, I have in fact described “Party Album” as sounding like distant power tools being run with quickly diminishing batteries. Not so this time! Perhaps the drums are a bit low in the mix, but they generally are the hardest part to capture correctly and all of the other instrumentation is audible and enjoyable. I even managed to pick up some lyrics that had escaped me live for so long.
Totaling a lucky 13 fiery tracks, this is an album to own. 26 minutes and 50 seconds of pure party power. I give it 9/10 balloons, 4.5/5 party hats–don’t ask me what half of a party hat is (a tiara?)–and a noisemaker for good measure.
Don’t miss out on the party! “… And Out Come The Balloons” officially drops on vinyl, CD, & digital formats Saturday February 3rd at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. For one easy payment of ten American dollars you can experience the thrill of SFTAPB live accompanied by the aforementioned Johnny and The Razorblades and your Legendary Hucklebucks along with recent addition The Scratch n’ Sniffs!
Learn more about these bands on Punksburgh!