A post over at AP.net today got my mind whirring. A slot machine of bands I used to listen to in high school spun mercilessly until it stopped on three Hippos. I hit the jackpot.
Does anyone even remember the Hippos? They were an upbeat ska-punk band that were bought by Interscope -- shortly before the pop-ska movement began losing steam, Reel Big Fish began losing their short-lived airplay, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones began losing their ties to a major label. The Hippos just barely missed the transition into synth-fueled power-pop a la Ozma (or, later, Motion City Soundtrack, HelloGoodbye, etc.) that would have put them ahead of their time. Instead, they went the way of the buffalo and earned a prominent spot on my underground music "Where Are They Now?" list -- although I think a lot of those mid-to-late 90s poppy ska-punk made that list.
I thought of these guys because an ex-girlfriend of mine used to make these spectacular perfume-doused mixtapes for me that often featured a Hippos song or two. There's an element of nostalgia that plays into the love I've got for these guys, but the band sells itself as a legendary key to the door of post-OpIvy ska. If you're interested in giving these guys a listen, your best bet is to check out 1996's Forget the World, a true ska-punk classic if ever there was one. (Released jointly by then-young labels Vagrant and Fueled by Ramen, the Hippos were an important part of establishing each label in the scene.) Complete with RBF-esque harmonizing vocals, strategically placed punk beats, and upbeat horn sections, the extinct Hippos are fun, catchy dance music.
Again, Universal is killing me with this no embedding shit, so go here to check out the band's video for "Wasting My Life." To hear some more stuff, check out the band's LastFM page.
Should my next post be dedicated to the Impossibles? I've got a feeling today's ska kick is going to fade faster than the fad itself did.
"I'm not a large water-dwelling mammal / Where did you get that preposterous hypothesis? / Did Steve tell you that, perchance?"
- Hiphopopotamus, "I'm the Motherflippin"