Mixing the catchy rhythms of a jam band with the alternative sound of the mid-1990s, Ballyrag makes an album that is innocuous and bubbling with energy. Coming to the table with omnipresent bass guitar, Ballyrag first bands a good impression with individuals on â€œSweet Thingsâ€. In this track, a surf rhythm is mixed with classical Spanish music to create a style that transcends the conventions of both the genres. â€œJohnny Adkinsâ€ follws up â€œSweet Thingsâ€, and this is the beginning of where Raif starts to go in a verbal rut, only coming to prominence in this track for reaching the happy medium between rasp and smoothness that makes Mark Schultz so endearing. Moving quickly onto â€œNothing Ever Changesâ€, a track which has nothing out of the ordinary besides the additional vocal ornamentations scattered through the song, Ballyrag have in the space of 4 songs reached the limits of their musical versatility.
While the bag of tricks that Ballyrag have to work with is extraordinarily small, the fact is that the music contained on â€œWhen the Ocean Meets the 10â€ is at all times hook-laden and able to be sung along with. â€œDruidsâ€ is a track that tries to change the paradigm that the band works under, incorporating a country influence to the mix, but really doesnâ€™t get far away from the rest of the tracks on the disc. â€œEdge of the Worldâ€ starts off more introspectively than the rest of the songs on the disc, with a piano flirting along with Raifâ€™s voice. Even in something so serious, like â€œThis is the place where you died/Isnâ€™t it pretty/And this is the bed where you lied/Here In the Cityâ€, Raifâ€™s voice is still hopefully, and eirâ€™s penny whistle flitters around the track like a butterfly flutters around even at the most inopportune times.
Ballyrag is a band that always has the immaculate timing, the solid sound, but in no way experiments with the boundries of their music, and as such, the disc suffers. â€œWhere the Oceans Meet the 10â€ might be a disc with some of the most beautiful tracks to be found on it, such as â€œTexasâ€, but without this desire to experiment and improve their sound, Ballyrag will be a static entity, forced to repeat the same formula day in and day out. â€œWhere the Ocean Meets the 10â€ is an album that mixes jazz, funk, surf, traditional and alternative musics, and operates like a stone picking up speed â€“ slowly at first, but when the listener gets to â€œSaraâ€, the best track on the disc, they will be bowled over by the pop sensibilities of Ballyrag.
Top Tracks: Texas, Sara
Rating : 6.0/10
Ballyrag â€“ Where the Ocean Meets the 10 / 10 Tracks / 2003 Self-Released / http://www.ballyrag.com / Reviewed 26 February 2004