Wednesday, 25 May 2011


I wanted to go for things at complete opposite ends of the spectrum today, so that's why I'm overwhelming you with two bands. Doubtlessly you'll have seen this morning's post on Gutter Popsters Not Cool. If you've not then go and listen to them once you've read a little bit about soon-to-be-fawned-over folksters Balto.

If you just baulked at the use of the word folksters there then you're probably not alone. In all honesty I didn't really expect to get a lot from this, but honestly think that it's rather ace. I undertand that it's easy to feel fatigue for the dominance of Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes, but as far as I'm concerned at KPL as long as you've got a good thing going it shouldn't matter which way the winds are blowing in the charts.

You see, where the aforementioned Mumford are pillaging an imagined idea of an idylic British past, this six-piece plunge into the roots music of both America and Russia ('TransSiberian Americana' indeed), but neatly sidestep Uncut friendly territory. Theirs is tales of railyards and factories, with the feel of a turning point between rustic and industrial. This is gently ushered along by the combination of traditional instruments such as harmonica and double bass with a modern production finish.

More than anyone else Balto are comparable to last year's unearthed gems Larsen B, who are very much worth checking out if you've the time. What makes Balto particularly special is their willingness to strip everything down so far it almost disappears. 'Railyard' gets so quiet at times it's barely there. Ghostly harmonies recalling the snow swept streets of a harsh winter. In many ways Balto have appeared at the wrong time of year, but listening to them will make you want to curl up in front of a fire safe and warm from the elements.

That's 'Railyard' there, and if you can get past the initial vocal harmonies which may recall some of what we've come to expect from commercial folk-pop, you will hear everything that I've said about above. It's from their album October's Road, which so far only seems to be available from their Bandcamp for US dollars. but will be availble in the UK from June 27th.

Balto have a fantastic backstory that involves mainman Daniel Sheron abandoning Moscow life to go it alone in Siberia but are now based in New York. So, just take one listen and I guarentee you'll be hooked. But give it a chance. This isn't Not Cool, who're gonna smack you about with some obvious noise. This is quiet and it's not pop but it'll appeal to anyone who dug Bon Iver's sense of isolated melancholy, and that was everyone with a heart.

Very very promising

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