Friday, 3 January 2014

Balms - Surface/Over My Head

Single review by

We started the year by mentioning how shoegaze is currently an unstoppable force, gradually taking over the world of guitar music. Its sounds reverberate from the four-corners of the globe (which as sayings go, is something of an oxymoron) but it's still an underground scene, albeit a large and ever-increasing one. I'll stick my neck out and say that this will be the year that one or two shoegaze-type bands knock down the door to the mainstream, and hopefully allow a few others to follow suit. Whether this will be an existing band or a new one is anyone's guess, but we can be reasonably sure it won't be Californian trio Balms. Because they're shoddy? No, simply because the two tracks here aren't built for that kind of attention, but this of course doesn't mean they don't have their merits.

Having only got together in the summer, there's probably more developing to be done for Balms, but the two tracks on this single show that they can write and they can play. There's no real "wow" factor to be found, and what's presented has a home-made feel, but they capture the dreaminess of a summer's day even though we're in the depths of winter. This is particularly evident on the glazed-eyed hum of 'Over My Head' which employs some surf-style guitars, hinting at a potential future path for the band to take to distinguish themselves in this crowded scene. 'Surface' is also laid-back and defies any reviewer to refrain from using words like "shimmering" and "hazy". Balms may not be the finished article just yet, but they're on the right track.

Balms' website

Buy the single

Catch them live:

Jan 07 Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA
Jan 24 The Smell, Los Angeles, CA
Jan 26 house show, Granada Hills, CA

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