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The Ditty Bops
THE DITTY BOPS
(Warner Bros.)
Stars graphics

The Ditty Bops are the LA duo of mandolin/dulcimer player Amanda Barrett and guitarist Abby DeWald, who harmonize and mine the romantic past, dipping into Western swing, hot jazz, rural folk, and twangy country. On their Mitchell Froom–produced debut, the girls — and this music is very girlish — present a naive façade that can be both charming and irritating. The disc is front-loaded with sweet pop songs, like the chiming "Walk or Ride" and the bluegrassy "Ooh La La." A cover of the Dixieland classic "Sister Kate" livens up the joint with squawking horns and jazzy guitar. Froom’s production is clean, stressing the vocal interplay; that’s the anchor, and it works best on the up-tempo numbers. On the ballads, with fewer hooks to hang those lovely voices on, insipid lyrics like "Forever tango, forever mustard/Forever my first word’s beer" ("Pale Yellow") surface. The appeal of the Ditty Bops is ephemeral — remember Squirrel Nut Zippers? — yet it’s hard not to be charmed by the eagerness with which they reach as far back as the ’20s for inspiration.

(The Ditty Bops open for Blanche this Friday, June 10, at T.T. the Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline Street in Central Square; call 617-492-BEAR.)

BY ELISABETH DONNELLY


Issue Date: June 10 - 16, 2005
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