Thursday, August 11, 2016

Balkun Brothers – Balkun Brothers | Album Review

Balkun Brothers – Balkun Brothers

Dixiefrog Records

12 tracks / 63:48

The Balkun Brothers out of Harford, Connecticut are a breath of fresh air in today’s music landscape with their varied influences that include artists such as Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Primus, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. Steve and Nick Balkun are young guys, but their sound is mature and the blues-rock they crank out is hard and true. They have gained a lot of notice with numerous awards to their name, have toured the world and played major festivals, and last year’s debut album, Redrova, is simply amazing.

Their eponymous second album is just as good; it was done as a duo, with Steve playing the guitar and singing the lead vocals, and Nick taking care of the drums and background vocals. The brothers wrote eleven of the dozen songs in the set, with over an hour of material for their listeners to enjoy. They got some extra special help at Serpentine Studios in Central Valley, New York, as none other than Popa Chubby recorded, produced, and mixed Balkun Bothers. You could not ask for a better mentor!

Here are a few highlights from Balkun Brothers:

- Steve and Nick start things off with “Been Drivin’” and this tune hearkens to the hammering feel of Golden Earring’s Radar Love, one of the greatest road songs ever. Steve and Nick do not waste any time showing off how much talent they have, as their work on guitar and drums is top-notch, and the vocals are strong with a nice weathering around the edges.

- They changed up the sound a bit for “Jail Bird” and brought in Dave Keyes to play the piano. This is a slow-tempo blues-rocker, and the Robby Krieger style keyboards add a little smoke to the mood. It starts with the components of a conventional blue rocker, but then it morphs into an awesome jam with an extended guitar solo over tricky drum rhythms.

- The sole cover on this album is Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues” and this up-tempo romp is one of my favorite songs on the album. Nick sets up a mean drumbeat and Steve does a killer job of mimicking the guitar riffs as he howls out the lyrics. Apparently the brothers have shared the stage with Johnny before, and I cannot imagine that he would have any troubles with their interpretation of his song as is it freaking incredible.

- This disc finishes up with “Rainy Day Front Porch Blues” and with this Delta-inspired piece the brothers show that they have done their homework and have studied the classics of the blues genre. There is just a Dobro and a kick drum (plus a little rain sound effect) to accompany the sad story of a fellow who has lost his lady. Steve’s vocals are spot-on and this turns out to be is an excellent way to bring things to a close.

The Balkun Brothers are hot and it is no accident that they were named the best band in Connecticut or that they made it to the finals of the IBC. Their latest album is worth your time, and be sure to head to their website to see if they are gigging near you. Their live show comes highly recommended, and I am going to follow my own advice and see them as soon as I can!

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