When Mitchell Froom (Suzanne Vega, Crowded House, Elvis Costello) produces a debut album, it is well worth taking notice. Thanks to their strangely beautiful voices, magnetic personalities, brilliant playing,bizarre storyt... more »elling and stunningly diverse range,The Ditty Bops ?the duo of Amanda Barrett and Abby DeWald ?earned his attention. A musical celebration embracing everything from contemporary folk pop to ragtime to musical theater, their self-titled debut is as gloriously unique as their name.« less
When Mitchell Froom (Suzanne Vega, Crowded House, Elvis Costello) produces a debut album, it is well worth taking notice. Thanks to their strangely beautiful voices, magnetic personalities, brilliant playing,bizarre storytelling and stunningly diverse range,The Ditty Bops ?the duo of Amanda Barrett and Abby DeWald ?earned his attention. A musical celebration embracing everything from contemporary folk pop to ragtime to musical theater, their self-titled debut is as gloriously unique as their name.
"Sometimes in the musical world, it seems like innovation is dead and new musical sounds are impossible. That all we'll ever get is endless regurgitation of past musical glories.
Then we hear a band like the Ditty Bops.
The quirky duo's debut album is a playful, whimsical collection of offbeat pop-folk, with an edge of carnival cuteness. This is an album where a bluesy melody can suddenly be broken by a strange merry-go-round sound, and where harmonies are the rule. In other words, all rules go out the window.
At their core, most of these are just acoustic guitar pop. Acoustic with a twist: some are catchy, some are bluesy, folky, country, and even alt-rocky in the banjo-laden rocker "There's A Girl." Surprisingly, all of these different styles fit together almost seamlessly.
But the guitar pop is not the main thing that makes the Ditty Bops charming. Actually, they would be fairly boring if it weren't... well, dressed up a little. What gives their songs an element of charm is the offbeat songwriting and the odd music -- they have everything from keyboard washes to dulcimer, mandolin to trombone and banjo.
And yet, the most charming aspect of the Ditty Bops is the old-fashioned vibe. Maybe it's the vocal harmonies, or the folky melodies. But the album has the sound of a long-lost folk-pop album that got buried, and only recently was dug up and released. Yes, even with songs about dried blood, marital murder, modern soullessness, and a "mechanical lady with her garden hose waters the cement."
Abby DeWald and Amanda Barrett both do vocal duty. At the same time. Yes, they manage to harmonize on every single song, on virtually every note. They sound refreshingly sweet, no matter how strange their songs are. "But me, I'd rather plant a tree/that grows up tall for all to see/until I need a pencil/then I'll chop it to the ground."
The Ditty Bops manage to be charming, cute, edgy and funny -- all on the same album. Definitely a memorable and fun debut."
Just plain damn fun
Steven R. Lafleur | 11/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a fan of The Roches or Kate & Anne McGarrigle, you will love these gals. I've seen others compare them to old style jazz or some other retro movement (whatever!) . I feel that this is just good, clean sounding pop, with wonderful harmonies. This winter, when you have a day that looks like it might be the beginning of Spring, pop in this disc, roll down the windows, stick a smile on your face and turn up the jams. (In fact, this disc might just make the Sun come out)."
Walt Whitman would agree...
Les Borean | So-Cal | 08/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amazon's editorial review states that the lyrics in this album won't win a Whitman Prize -- then the he goes on to quote the begining lyircs of "Wishful Thinking" as his example. I would expect an editorial review to come from a place of intimate knowledge of the style of music under question: In the case of this song, a retro-twenties style.
The opening lyrics are meant as a playful, teasing entry into the song -- in keeping with the STYLE here. If the reviewer contemplated the song as a whole, he would see a "message" evolve from this playful skit -- the message being about a girl who's habit it is to keep her love "in a box" (to quote Abby), and her struggle to open herself up to a new friend. Sounds like a serious burdonsome theme -- but not the way the 'Bops do it -- they make it fun.
The reason I preach so is to make a point about something I love about the 'Bops music: There's their fun side and there's their thoughtful side -- and they mix the two seamlessly throughout the album in their own quirky fashion.
Fun and thoughtfulness -- something for everybody.
The lovers of any artform are forever yearning for something new and fresh -- a new angle; that's why the 'Bops are headed for the big time."
Can't Stop Listening
Blackberry | Up a Tree or on a Bike | 07/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I got both of their CDs the other day and I can't stop listening. They're edgy and innocent, sweet and sophisticated. And their lyrics turn me inside out. What's more, the Ditty Bops are on a concert tour--and traveling by bicycle."
David Richins | Phoenix, Az USA | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To place the Ditty Bops in ANY genre is to undermine everything this music stands for. It's music for the sake of it's own wonders. Beautiful harmonies, unique and entertaining lyrics, and music that takes you places you never thought a single album could take you. They transcend every expectation and simply make you smile as you listen. Just look at lyrics like: "You might find the meaning of life in the barrel of a rifle, if it's pointed at a bird or if it's pointed at your head. Me, I'd rather plant a tree that grows up tall for all to see... until I need a pencil, then I'll chop it to the ground" I heard them first on Grey's Anatomy just as background music but fell in love immediately. Now I consider it an honor to become a fan at ground level with their first album and I can't wait to hear more from them."