Under Review

Adam Balbo

Refried Nostalgia (Independent)

Review By Sam Risser


I’m an open minded kind of guy. I really am. Of course I know what I like, but it’s rare that I let this litany of aural criterion block my neural pathways to what may be potentially new and exciting music. When I was assigned Adam Balbo’s Refried Nostalgia, it was accompanied by a statement from Balbo himself explaining that this was his first time playing with a full band and that the sonic vibrations derived from this were something along the lines of “janky” garage rock. Now, maybe I am misinformed, ignorant or perhaps too rigid in my own definition of what such a moniker might entail, but what we have here, my brothers and sisters, is quite a different animal from the kind of “janky” music I am accustomed to.

All the hallmarks of what should constitute some good ol’ one-two-one-two clang and bang are absent on this recording. For starters, the musicianship is, well, competent. The guitars are a nice-sounding, wishy-washy jangle-jangle, while the bass and drums both plod along merrily. The lyrics are cute and centered mostly around nice things—probably contemplating the virtues of brushing twice every day— and do very little to put hairs on my chest or lead in my pencil. They’re also delivered via what I can only deduce to be a very fake southern drawl. On top of all this, the extremely nice-sounding production does its best imitation of something lo-fi and falls onto its face. On some tracks, it sounds like Balbo is crooning from inside a spotless tile bathroom—a sound probably accomplished with a digital reverb compressor—while other tracks are bookended with applause. In the end, we are left not with a high-energy, about to fall apart rock ‘n’ goddamn roll record, but cute music for the young folks in East Van to relax to. If that sounds like you, you might enjoy this.