Hippos Heads Are Gonna Roll

The Hippos are a talented, young band from the Southern California wasteland making headlines across the American Southwest using a catchy blend of punk riffs, ska hooks and accompanying brass section. Big deal, right? The Hippos are lucky and good enough to have several songs on their debut CD that make them stand out, thanks in large part to the keyboards. Rather than sounding like another boring, generic ska-punk band like, say, Reel Big Fish, the Hippos managed to do something original and dynamic. There are traces of '60s pop reminiscent of the Zombies and the Turtles, the new wave keyboard-based sound big when Reagan moved into DC, and of course the very today power-pop-ska thing all the kids are into. A promising debut for these kids, and I just can't help seeing them as a Southern Californian version of the Undercovers. They should meet and become friends. (Interscope)