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REVIEW: Sweet Babylon from Fall River Release “Ideal Personality”

In five years, Sweet Babylon has made a splash in the Providence ska scene, opened up for legendary bands like the Toasters and the Slackers, and have recorded two full length albums.

All this, and the band has yet to play a show in Boston.

“We haven’t dipped our toes in Boston yet,” said Kyle Platt, the band’s guitarist and one of their singers. “But you can bet we’re going to head to Boston a lot more.”

The band started in 2011, introducing their dance-friendly, joke-wrapped ska/punk first to the country-heavy Fall River scene, where the band hails from. Not long after the band debuted in Providence, playing with local New England acts such as The Copacetics, Sound Off, and Bad Larry, they released their debut album “Life is a Zoo.” The band’s newest album, “Ideal Personality” carries the band’s trademark energy and humor, but with a couple of twists thrown in to keep the listener guessing about the band’s true direction.

Sweet Babylon Cover ArtWhen it came to writing songs for the new album, Platt felt that Sweet Babylon actually had a luxury that not many bands experience when recording their sophomore album; the ability to take their time.

“'[Ideal Personality] was writing without having the pressure of ‘hey, we’re going to be starting a band soon, let’s get some songs together’,” said Platt. “I rushed a lot of songs I didn’t have for ‘Life is a Zoo’. For this album, we took our time, worked the songs out, and it slowly came to.”

The band builds their ska/punk repertoire with songs in a similar vein to their first album, which came out less than a year after the band had started. Catchy classics like “Ska Chick” and “Overworked and Underpaid” create an itch that only a three minute skank will scratch. With the help of friends from the Cranston-based ska outfit Bad Larry, the band incorporates a horn section to create a true ska fusion to the band’s hard rocking sound.

But the band also want to create something different for the album to pay homage to their non-ska influences. The song “Shamrock”, a tongue-and-cheek put down of the Boston Celtics, is an homage to the Dropkick Murphys, while the softer, folk number “Lugosi” is an homage to Mumford and Sons.

Yet the band doesn’t skimp on the trademark humor that gave “Life is a Zoo” its (ideal) personality. The albums second track, and my personal favorite, is “My Friend Wang,” a simple, three-chord punk valentine for Platt’s…well, wang. Also, right smack dab in the middle of the album, the band included a phone call that Platt received from drummer Lenny Batista while drunk, serving as a segue into the album’s eponymous track, a melodic ode to those drunken carefree nights that please (or haunt) us all.

High school friends Platt and Isaiah “Izzy” Carmenatty decided to start a band influenced by 90s music. Platt claims when he first started performing music, what inspired him was not just the 1996 “summer of ska” bands like Sublime and Reel Big Fish, but also theme songs from Nickelodeon shows like “KaBlam!” and “Angry Beavers”.

“I wanted to get into ska right away,” said Platt. “Being a 90s kid, you hear all these bands in video games and movies and TV shows. It was just a fun style to get into.”

After Platt recruited Batista, a friend he met in college, the band worked quickly to start a band. Platt said what really started everything for them as a band was winning a Battle of the Bands competition at Firehouse 13 in Providence, and as a thank you for watching them, Sweet Babylon chose to host their CD release party at the venue on Friday, June 26, with Short Handed Goal and the Eradicates.

According to Platt, Sweet Babylon doesn’t have much yet lined up for the summer, but he and the band are thinking about recording a covers album, starting to write some original songs for their next release, and plan on taking their ambitions up north.

“We already played Lupo’s, which was a goal of mine from the beginning,” said Platt. “Our next goal is the House of Blues. We’re also going to try to tour, but mostly we’re just gonna keep it going, for us all to stay happy and healthy.”

AG Sorette

AG Sorette’s exposure to ska dated as far back as middle school with Sublime, Reel Big Fish, and the Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtracks. After playing in various ska and punk bands in his teens, Sorette combined his love of writing with music, and began writing about bands and covering concerts for his college newspaper and New Hampshire-based publications such as The Hippo Press and The Wire.

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