Monday, August 24th, 2009
Smells Like Secrets
An introduction to The Balconies
Ben WellandI’m not sure why it’s taking me so long to try and come up with words to describe The Balconies and their debut album – also called The Balconies and out September 15. It could be this epic nap that I woke up from a few hours ago but still haven’t shaken loose, or maybe it’s because whenever I start playing the record, that’s 37 minutes that I’d rather just sit and listen instead of write.
The Balconies stick to the tried-and-true power-trio format and on top of that, favour of a dry, in-your-face approach that eschews any sort of studio hijinks. They’re a confident crew, these Balconies, and why not? All three are superb musicians and guitarist Jacqui Neville has got a most impressive set of pipes, with power and expressiveness to spare but thankfully uninterested in showy over-singing. Sibling and bassist Steve Neville is an effective vocal foil, though I find myself wishing I wasn’t reminded so much of the B-52s’ Fred Schneider at points. Their songwriting is also at its sharpest when they plough straight ahead with the power-pop, all punch and vigor and demonstrating a knack for the not-so-obvious-but-indelibly-catchy hook. But even the lesser tracks have at least one riff, melody or moment to justify its place amongst the stronger numbers and oft times, they’re the ones that stick in the head the most. In fact, on the first few listens, I thought I was able to easily distinguish the standouts from the filler, but subsequent listens have blurred those distinctions significantly. What hasn’t changed, however, is the first impression – that The Balconies have turned out a cracking debut record and more than merit my – and your – attention.
Seeing as how they hail from Ottawa, it’s only natural that I Heart Music was first up with effusive praise for the outfit, which has been echoed by both Herohill and Dave Allen of Gang Of Four at Pampelmoose. There’s also an interview from earlier this Summer at BlogTO and a more recent one at Soundproof, both addressing the band’s upcoming move from Ottawa to Toronto.
I’m not sure if that’s already happened, but their live itinerary has them in town quite a bit in the next while regardless. They’re at the Horseshoe this Wednesday night with Everything All The Time and The Magic, then are doing a free show as part of the TARA Secret Sessions the evening of August 29 with The Books Elusive and Modernboys Moderngirls. Then they’re back on September 25 at Lee’s Palace for a release party throwdown with Oh No Forest Fires, Fox Jaws and Whale Tooth. Good times guaranteed.
Final Fantasy is going to be touring across Canada next month but the eagle-eyed – or simply sighted – will notice the absence of any Toronto dates on his itinerary. But he will in fact be playing a hometown show on September 5 at– well, they’re not telling. As part of what they’re calling Bite Your Tongue, Final Fantasy and a handful of others are playing at an undisclosed location that evening and ticket buyers will only be informed of the location the day before the show by returning to wherever they bought their tickets ($10 at Soundscapes or Rotate This) for the 411. They do promise that it’s accessible by TTC (about a 70-minute commute each way) and presumably have made sure that the buses and whatnot are still running when the show is over and people aren’t stranded at this allegedly majestic locale. Adventure! Final Fantasy’s Heartland is due out the first week of 2010 or so.
Spiral Beach will release their new album The Only Really Thing on September 22 and follow that up with a whackload of touring, including a cross-country jaunt with Two Hours Traffic and they’ll preface their October 16 date at Lee’s Palace with an in-store at Sonic Boom that evening.
Stereogum has premiered the MP3 for the a-side from a new Asobi Seksu 10″ coming out this week, a different version of “Transparence” from their latest album Hush. Asobi Seksu are at the Horseshoe on October 13.
Video: The Antlers – “Two”
CMJ reports that Venice Is Sinking are soliciting pre-orders for their third album The Georgia Theatre Sessions, proceeds from which will go towards rebuilding the titular theatre where the album was recorded and which burned down earlier this Summer. Chip in via Kickstarter.com. This record would be the follow-up to AZAR, released earlier this year and just lovely.