A Fresh Indie Discovery from Brooklyn: Balancer

27 Aug

Indiewayyoulikeit is typically the place to go to learn about great new indie bands and their music. But sometimes, exceptions must be made.

As you are no doubt aware, being a musician is not a ticket to riches today. For every megaband with their entourage and limos, there are dozens of bands traveling by van, lugging their own equipment, and doing their own mike checks.

Balancer is an indie rock trio with psych tendencies that has worked hard to get noticed, but is still relatively unknown. The group’s members are: Francisco Valentin (vocals/synths), Felipe Piedrahita (guitar/synth) and Gabriela Jimeno (drums/samples).

Originally from Colombia and Puerto Rico, the three of them first met in Boston, where they had all gone to attend music school. The band is now based in that hotbed of indie music: Brooklyn, New York.

Together since 2012, Balancer has released just one full album — Tipsoo. It first became available in 2014, but because we just received it at KZSU where I DJ, it’s new to us. And it’s fantastic, making it well worth writing about even at this late date.

My favorite song on the album is track 6, “Mount Rainier (Woke Me Up).” (Side note: The album was recorded in Seattle, where the band members could gaze up at majestic Mount Rainier daily.) I picked this track long before I read an interview in High Voltage magazine where Jimeno states that it’s the band’s favorite as well. She says, “This song is the key to understanding the essence of the whole album. It is a breaking point as it marks the passage of one act into the next…”

Jimeno continues, “The song is actually two songs forged together by a dream-like transition. As the song starts to fade away into chaos, a vortex of energy, a new song is being born. ‘Mount Rainier’ feels like a sunrise. The break of day bringing light and hope into the soul…”

Whew.

What else can I say? “Mount Rainier” starts out as a wistful wandering — melodic with a mesmerizing rhythm and guitar stingers. Then, at about 2 1/2 minutes, it transitions into a bouncy synth-based melody with a different rhythm, guitar noodling, hand-claps, and wonderful harmonies. This is definitely an epic tune you need to hear!

Track 2, “Traveler,” is another great song. It’s psych-influenced, with a mix of guitar, synth and rhythm elements. At points the song effortlessly transitions between rock into something that’s jazzier — like Steely Dan might have created.

Track 8, “Under the Same Sky” is a delightful romp — the band strutting its musical virtuosity in a mid-tempo guitar rock song with a slightly off-kilter rhythm.

Track 9, “Technicatalyst,” is dreamy, yet intricate — featuring Piedrahita’s clean guitar licks with disciplined drumming and just the right amount of noise to lift listeners into the clouds.

Many of the other tracks in Tipsoo’s 10-song set are just as worthy. If you want to be able to share a true musical discovery with your less indie-geeked-out friends, Tipsoo is it.

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