Havin’ A Ball With Tally Hall

This Saturday, Ann Arbor’s rock quintet Tally Hall will bring their always eclectic, never static sound to the Courtyard CafÇ. With an arsenal of genres at their disposal, Tally Hall packs more variety into one song than a lesser band could manage in a full album.

Drummer Ross Federman, who dons a silver tie, described the band’s style as “a mixed bag of all sorts of things. The main kind of rock/pop-rock is there, but we try not to limit ourselves by that.”

Tally Hall’s debut album, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, strings together 14 songs that manage to substantially differ from each other, as well as from the pop/rock scene.

Just look at “The Bidding” versus “Two Wuv,” for example. The former is a pop/rap song about a date auction, given a strong backbone by a dark choral loop and a poppy refrain. The latter is an unabashed ode to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen reminiscent of “Stacy’s Mom.”

“We tend to think of each song as an independent composition,” said guitarist and vocalist Rob Cantor, who sports a yellow tie. “Rather than giving our band a sound, we tend to give our songs a sound.”

Whether it is the catchy chorus of “Greener,” or the lyrical antics of “Banana Man,” the album is sure to satisfy the appetites of many musical connoisseurs.

The five members themselves play fairly standard instruments for a rock band – two guitars, drums, a bass and keyboards – but they rarely limit themselves to that scope.

Guest artists have recorded on several of the album’s tracks. “Be Born” features a banjo, violin and an upright bass, and “Taken for a Ride” has a plethora of support which includes a cello, french horns, a saxophone, a viola and a choir.

The group drew inspiration for their album from the actual place in Farmington Hills, Mich., called Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. The museum houses a collection of vintage coin-operated games, such as love testers and fortune tellers.

The museum is the only part of the mini-mall called Tally Hall that remains open for business. In addition to the games are airplanes, carousels, antiques and robots, among an assortment of oddities.

“You could walk in there and see 10 things that you’ve never seen before, even if you’ve been there 100 times,” said Cantor.

He added that he feels that way about Tally Hall’s music.

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