#1 - The Aquabats - Hi-Five Soup!
The Aquabats, for the uninitiated, are international (and some would say intergalactic) superheroes, bent on ridding the world of buzzkills and bullies, once and for all. I once heard them described as "The undisputed champions of nerd-core" and that fits pretty well, so I'm going to steal it. I'm also not going to give credit where it's due, because I have absolutely no idea where I heard it. For all I know, I made it up, and I'll be damned if I'm going to give me credit for using something I made up.
I'm getting off-track.
I feel like I should give some background on these guys, though, since I can't help but notice that this album utterly failed to make any top 10, 20, or even 50, list that I saw for 2011, and that leads me to believe that just not enough people know about the Aquabats, otherwise they would have heard the record and rejoiced that their ears had been blessed with such awesomeness.
I first discovered the Aquabats when I was in high school, shortly after their debut record, Return of the Aquabats! dropped back in 1996. At the time, they were a ska band, had a hopping horn section and were recording songs like Lobster Bucket!, which I stumbled upon (looooong before there needed to be capitals on those two words) on some lyrics website while I should have been studying in the school library.
From there, they gained some fame in California for being so damned awesome, recruited one Travis Barker to play drums for them (who would later be snatched up while they were opening for Blink-182 on tour in '98) and recorded/released Fury of the Aquabats! in 1997.
1999's Aquabats vs. the Floating Eye of Death! was the start of a different sound for the 'Bats, moving slightly away from ska and more in line with the band's musical heroes, Devo.
Then came a time known as the Dark Ages for Aquabats fans. Things were looking grim. The 'Bats were dropped from labels because their stage shows (which featured constant eclectic/esoteric video presentations and guest appearances by the most nefarious villains and aliens in the universe) became too expensive, and they were basically in the doldrums of a several-year recording hiatus.
Then in 2005, Charge!! was released and new life was breathed into the band. They got back into touring more heavily, much to everyone's relief, and were back as a band for the time being. They had more or less lost their ska sound when Prince Adam (the band's remaining trumpet player) left, and transitioned into a more synth-heavy new-new-wave pop-punk thing.
Anyway, they're awesome, and they've always been awesome.
This record is, as you may guess from its eminent position atop my top 10, is no exception. It's got pretty much everything that The Aquabats have always provided fans: great stories, incredibly catchy tunes, danceable tracks and just incredible musicianship. It may sometimes get lost in the theatre of what they do, but the Aquabats are a group of ridiculously talented musicians, and it definitely shows in this offering, from the complex rhythms of The Legend is True! and Food Fight on the Moon! to the pop-reference-laden Pink Pants! and Radio Down!
Listen and love, and if you do, for the love of everything you hold dear, SEE THESE MEN IN CONCERT! It will be unlike anything you've ever experienced, and you will be changed for the better.
Here are a few tunes from Hi-Five Soup! to get you started:
The Legend is True!:
Radio Down! (featuring Biz Markie):
And, as a special something, a blast from the past! From 1997's Fury of the Aquabats!, I present, Super Rad!: (Watch at around 1:28 for a still-tattoo-less Travis Barker, and later in costume on the snare)