The Phantom Tollbooth
Sundown to Midnight 
Artist: The Dingees 
Label: BEC Recordings 
Length: 13 tracks / 39:23 minutes 
The Dingees have carved out their own unique niche in the ska/punk feeding frenzy these days, by adding a hefty dose of reggae and separating each style by song, rather than fusing them like other bands. Their sophomore release Sundown to Midnight is roughly one-third bouncy mid-range punk ala Rancid, one-third ska, and one-third whiteboy reggae, with some blurring of the lines between the latter two. The few horns are really low-key on the ska and reggae, the band relying more on bass, keyboards, and ska guitar. The last song is an acoustic off-key ballad to God ("all I got left to hold onto is you in my heart"). Every song is super hooky and singalong ready, from "Rally-O" to "Radio Freedom" to "Chevy Malibu" (hey, you can listen to their music "in your
car, in your car, in your car"). The bass lines are strong and deep, keeping to the reggae tradition.

But Sundown to Midnight is pop music all the way, which will probably turn off any true punks. The Dingees are like the Audio Adrenaline of the punk/ska/reggae scene. They sound nice and slick in the stereo and their songs stick in your head long after you hear them...but there's really no edge to their sound. It's all sanitized and streamlined, making it all but impossible to accept their pseudo-revolution lyrics. Not to mention that it's three white boys and a Hispanic dude making
reggae. That's worse than white guys trying to rap. Still, I think I'll turn it up, because that bass sure thumps.

Josh Spencer   8/14/99