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Having a Ball (2008)



Drawing upon his inspiration from California Sunshine Pop arrangements, along with tin can drum sounds of the South, Michael Jacober, the 25-year-old multi-instrumentalist behind Brooklyn’s SHAlala, performs his mesmerizing version of American Psych-Cirque Rock. Displaying an existential collage of lush harmonies and pervasive swing rhythms, Jacober’s songs are structured after the “minor” hits of the late 1960s, and shine a sarcastic light on modern city life. Jacober’s unapologetic use of heavily reverberated monosynths, clanky slide guitars, and doo-wop tuba, place SHAlala in a similar vein to what Having a Ball engineer Chris Moore (TV on the Radio, Scarlett Johansson, Yeasayer) tends to associate himself with.

After originally being trained as a classical cellist, Jacober taught himself guitar before studying Bossa Nova and Samba under both Peter Mazza and John Berenzy at the American Institute of Guitar in Manhattan. He then moved to Paris and began working on the Having a Ball EP in his bedroom while working as a line cook there. He claims to have spent his spare time with a portable recording device capturing street soundscapes, night bus altercations, as well as the occasional gypsy guitar playing gospel singer, later interpreting these sound clips (sometimes using them) to sketch new songs. The result was the first SHAlala demo, which landed performances during Paris’ “Fete de la Musique” in June of 2007.

With 13 months of tracking in France under his belt, Jacober moved to Brooklyn and ended up sharing an apartment with Chris Keating and Anand Wilder (both of Yeasayer), where he added layer upon layer of quirky, ethno-pop percussion and eventually completed the recording in his basement. The now finished Having a Ball EP has begun to draw comparisons ranging from the psychedelic tones of The Turtles and The Association, all the way to the drama pop of George Michael and Phil Collins. Much of this debut release shows a strong cinematic approach, carrying the listener from deep tension builds to the tip of its climactic releases. After one listen it’s clear that Having a Ball is a multifaceted gem, colorful and adventurous, and sure to be enjoyed time and time again.