Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
Musically, I’m a sucker for many things. Chief among them is anything
related to post-punk and garage rock. Bloc Party was my off-ramp from
Linkin Park, while No Age and Wavves have dominated my total plays on
iTunes for about two years now.
Naturally, the discovery of Atlanta act Balkans was a highlight of my week, being that they merge the two worlds in a way few others have. The band’s self-titled debut
came out in early summer, but buzz around Balkans’ CMJ appearances has led the figurative noise of the group to match that which it literally makes.
The band leans heavier on one or the other with each passing track, for the most part. The opener, “Edita V,” starts with a heavy dose of distortion before exploding into a zany smattering of angular guitar notes, then recoiling into a tamed but still dangerous chorus of cascading guitar chords and lead singer Frankie Broyles’ wanting call.
Then “I Can’t Compete” enters, a bit more relaxed with the faintest wave of surf rock and a little Strokes to boot. The nervy “Zebra Print” and wired “Dressed In Black” — especially recalling “Is This It” here — follow.
Surprisingly, the quality of this freshman effort never takes a down turn, arguably getting better with time. “Troubled and Done” is the most mature, self-assured track on the album, while “Let You Have It” easily takes the cake as most hyperkinetic (even violent) track the disc has to offer.
It’s a more than promising effort overall, and while a bit of aging and experimenting will do the band well in branding its unique take on music, I still can hardly wait to watch them over time as they further refine my dream genre amalgamation.