Record Label: Caramba / Third Side Records
Band Link: www.troyvonbalthazar.net
Sometimes spookily ethereal, sometimes melodramatic, “How To Live On Nothing” reminds me of Smashing Pumpkins. I know I should be cool and call this lo-fi indie or shoegazer psych-pop or whatever, but I can’t help but think of indulgent alternarock a la “Mellon Collie”. It helps (or doesn’t help?) that Troy Von Balthazar often affects Billy Corgan’s strained-lullaby vocals.
The comparison isn’t really a slight. The music here is competent and executed well with lush production and instrumentation, including toy pianos, retro Casio rhythms, and the right amount of guitar fuzz. There are also a couple of decent acoustic tunes, like the Beatlesesque “Wings” (or Paul McCartney-esque, I guess).
There are some misses, like the oddly hair metal-ish “Santiago” and the closer “Infinity Face,” which incorporates a castrati-like chorus to unintentionally creepy effect (children – or what sounds like children – singing romantic lyrics is very off-putting). Overall, though, this is a solid album of brooding 90s alternative with somewhat lighter and brighter lyrics.
Bottom Line: See above.
Notable Tracks: To A Girl With One Wing Gone, My Diamond Brain