Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Louder in the Balcony

The first reference point that might come to mind for the Canadian trio The Balconies is The White Stripes, and not just because he Balconies feature a brother and sister and Jack and Meg White used to be coy about whether they were siblings or spouses (spouses, for the record, now "ex"). A little like the Stripes, the Balconies play big-time power pop with a lot of different flavors mixed in, and amazingly do so with just a guitar, bass and drums.

And also with their not-so-secret weapon, lead singer Jacquie Neville. Her voice has a roller-coaster level range and enough power to give the Balconies first EP, Kill Count, all the loudness and punch a good power-pop record needs (The band has since become a quartet, putting original drummer Liam Jaeger with Jacquie and brother Stephen, up front with a guitar of his own).

The band members' classical music training gives them musicianship a lot of other groups lack, which allows for a much wider range of expression even in the more limited field of pop and rock music. On the title track, Jacquie Neville's staccato phrasing on the verses helps drive the urgency that begins with the ululated backup line. "Tiger" has a dreamy repeated chorus that leads into big-crunch verses and Jacquie's vocals moving up and down the scale the way Kelly Hogan sang with the late '80s Georgia outfit The Jody Grind. "Battle Royale" and "Serious Bedtime" are both hook-happy sing-along earworms that will stick long after playing (although a fellow in my profession should note that the latter's advice to "do it in the dark" because "no one sees it" is contraindicated by some authorities).

The band's full-length album Fast Motions is scheduled for release soon and if Kill Count is any guide, it should be on your wish list if you're a fan of melodic, loud, well-crafted power pop with a range of other influences.

No comments: