Tally Hall | Terms of Endearment

With each band member writing diverse songs, their debut feels like an exercise in genre hopping, trying their hand at reggae, rap, and power-pop—all with in the first 20 minutes.



Ever since LFO's deliciously awful "Summer Girls" graced the airwaves in the summer of 1999, the label "Hit of the Summer" has become somewhat of a derogatory term in music. Tally Hall is out to change that. With the August 8 release of their debut album Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, Tally Hall has crafted a wonderful collection of power-pop gems that provide the perfect soundtrack to the laid back feeling of summer.

The five multi-talented young men from Tally Hall—ages range from 21 to 23—met while students at University of Michigan and began making music together. With Rob Cantor winning the 2005 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for his song "Just Apathy" and Andrew Horowitz winning the John Lennon Scholarship Competition for his song "Good Day," Tally Hall has received much attention as a band that needs to be reckoned with.

Many bands in the history of music with many talented individuals tend to squabble over artistic control, but Tally Hall uses this to their advantage. With each band member writing diverse songs, their debut feels like an exercise in genre hopping, trying their hand at reggae, rap, and power-pop—all with in the first 20 minutes of the album.

Cantor describes the songwriting process like this: "We sort of create each song as an independent composition. We don't really think of ourselves as rock musicians, or rock songwriters so much as composers, I guess, which sounds a little esoteric. But a lot of us have an open mind when we're approaching an arrangement or when we're thinking about how to create a song, and I think that's what results from some of the more free-spirited, stylistic jumps on the album, and that's what allows ourselves to a little less seriously. If a song wants to be funny, or if it wants to be sort of silly, then we let it be. And if it wants to be more serious, and it makes more sense for it to be a darker song, then it'll be a darker song. We don't necessarily go into each track, each songwriting session with the preconceived notion that we're going to write a post-hardcore emo song." I'm not sure how a "post-hardcore emo song" would sound, but I would like to thank Tally Hall for not writing one.

In addition to receiving recognition from their awards, the band's wonderful pop gem "Good Day" was featured on Fox's The O.C. on the April 6. Although many critics have frowned upon their favorite bands being paraded around on a teeny-bopper hit television show, I, for one, see this as a great way for small bands to reach a larger audience. With their appearance on the show, they are put in the same category with indie stalwarts Death Cab for Cutie, Bloc Party, and Sufjan Stevens.

Says Cantor of the experience: "Given the success that The O.C. has imparted upon many bands in the last year and a half, two years, there is now a very positive and promising connotation along with saying that you were featured on The O.C. It's been good in two ways, I guess. The fact that six million people hear this song at a time, and also that people in the industry say a lot of things—they say, ‘you're an O.C. band,'—that'll open a lot of doors for us."

While many egomaniacal musicians today see themselves as society's savior (see: Bono), Tally Hall take themselves slightly less seriously. In addition to including a love song to the Olsen Twins on their debut, they also have ditched the tight jeans and vintage shirts worn by their peers and have opted instead for white dress shirts with multi-colored ties. Choosing the shirts and ties was a way to stick out around the University of Michigan campus. Cantor says there was another reason they chose colored ties: "We wanted to emphasize the individual personalities of the members. We thought that the more people got to know us each individually, the better, and the more they would understand us, and they would appreciate the music." Also, says Cantor, "I think we took a cue from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Although the LFO, Sisqo, and Len have all received the dubious distinction of being "hits of the summer," Tally Hall's power-pop tunes have the power to reverse the negative trend, and turn "hit of the summer" into a term of endearment.

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