Artist Appreciation: Ball Park Music - Australia's Unsung Heroes

In case you’ve never heard of them, Ball Park music are one of Australia’s most lively, talented and in my opinion, horrifically underrated bands. Hailing from Brisbane the 5 piece have been in the scene since their Triple J unearthed days in 2008 and their debut album, Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs in 2011. They are beyond new kids on the block with 5 (yes 5) albums under their belt within 7 years, they are veterans in the world of alternative Australian music.

The beauty behind these 5 albums, and the resulting charm of Ball Park in general, is their ability to continuously remain fresh, energetic and relevant each time you listen to them. This is a trait that many bands to this day are unable to possess, with discographies that are often hindered by lulls in creativity or a direction that is too left of field. Ball Park doesn’t have this, they instead have a gorgeous medium of alternative rock/pop that is explored vastly different each record. Even their fourth studio album, Every Night The Same Dream, which to many fans is their weakest effort, is a brilliant execution of a familiar sound through an analogue recording process. It cops a lot of flak for it’s unfamiliar sound, yet when you fully submit yourself to the record you find the Ball Park quirks and stunning chemistry each member has with one another embedded in each track. But a bit more on that later.

Ball Park Music are Australia’s band, rising through the ranks of the indie boom of the late 2000’s, early 2010’s and quickly becoming hot topic with their debut album and singalong favourites Literally Baby, iFly and It’s Nice To Be Alive. This album is renowned for its sense of humour, Sam Cromack’s ability to relate to young Australians through wit and tenderness and it’s timeless tracklist. To every BPM fan this album holds a special place for it being the one that started it all. Their follow up LP, Museum, was released just a year later and boasted and much bigger and ambitious sound than their debut, and as with most follow up albums the production was crisper. Tracks like Surrender, Fence Sitter and Coming Down are staples on many playlists to this day. Taking a two year break after some extensive touring, Ball Park dropped their third LP, and to this day their most critically acclaimed and successful effort, Puddinghead. Opening track She Only Loves Me When I’m There was insanely successful, if you hadn’t heard of Ball Park yet, you were about to because this song was everywhere. But this record wasn’t a one track hit, it had classics such as Trippin The Light Fantastic, Cocaine Lion, Teenager Pie and Everything Is Shit Except My Friendship With You. Easily their most consistent piece of work, due to its clever track placement, infusion of electronic elements and a lot more louder and harder rock sounds.

BPM back in the day

After another two year break Ball Park returned this time with a lot more ambition to create a much more experimental and quirkier record in Every Night The Same Dream. As discussed earlier this album is easily their most criticised and only now amongst fan circles is it getting the recognition it deserves. It has a much more subdued sound through the analogue recording process, yet it’s louder moments are by far the most craziest sonically by the band. Take for example the 7 minute psychedelic trip in Pariah or lead single Nihilist Party Anthem, tracks that boast such an array of guitars and grainy textures it’s hard to not marvel at the assortment of sounds and production on these songs. Whipping Boy to this day is one of my favourite Ball Park tracks, it’s just a blissful three minutes covered in jangly guitar hooks, rolling drums all culminating in a nice reverb-y tune. It did take time for this record to grow on me, but it is more than likely because (like many others) I was expecting “Puddinghead Part 2”. Removing that expectation you see the album as Ball Park at their most creative, bold and unashamed.

After nationwide touring they returned again in March 2018 with Good Mood, which received a strong reception and also produced one of their most popular singles to date in Exactly How You Are. Good Mood is the finished product of a band that is enjoying the music they make, taking the best bits from each of their previous albums and adding some experience and maturity. It feels like a band that is assured in who they with tracks like The End Times and The Perfect Life Does Not Exist, and a group that’s not afraid to boldly take risks in tracks like Frank and Hands Off My Body. Autotune tracks, crazy lyrical progression bundled with the Ball Park charm makes for a strong record in Good Mood.

This now leads us to “the present”, where it’s been nearly a year since Good Mood and BPM are about to embark on their third tour of Australia in 12 months. I can’t help but think that with their impressive catalogue of music, extensive touring schedules and incredible live shows, that BPM still don’t receive the national love they deserve. They have a massive cult following, but wouldn’t it be great to see music fans everywhere getting around such an incredibly talented band like Ball Park? We’ve seen bands like Gang Of Youths and Tame Impala explode internationally and at home, maybe it’s high time Ball Park get the same treatment? The reason I say this is because it is clear to see that each member is musically talented; Sam, Jen, Dean, Paul and Dan all have a love for music that extends beyond just making it for cash. They love their fans, and they love their music, it’s time we really honour that and get them on that next level. All fans of BPM know they have the capability to reach crazy heights, and that when it comes to the Australian music scene they can be the unseen at times. They’ve brought a generation of music lovers together with their stunning ability to relate to modern day Australians, all the while creating quality content. We owe it to them for keeping that brand of indie/pop alive in Australia, and what better way than to give them the exposure they deserve.

Ball Park have dropped 5 albums in 7 years, that is an incredible amount of hard work, especially when you consider the quality that has come out of those 5 records. This isn’t a band going through the motions, this is a band always looking to expand and challenge themselves each record. Don't want to bring awards into it, but isn't it strange they won the triple J album poll last year but didn't even get a J award nomination? I just find that strange. As a fan you want to see them get some recognition, is it too much to ask? For myself, Ball Park Music aren’t just another indie band from Australia, they are a talented and inspiring act that deserve every bit of praise. So, here is to Ball Park Music, one of this nations finest musical acts and the unsung heroes of Australian music. I really do hope they continue to grow widespread appeal, if their past tour with San Cisco is any indication of things to come, that might come sooner rather than later. And that is not a bad thing at all.