Balacade - Malaise Era


Sometimes an album can trigger a memory of a time in your life, mostly likely because you incessantly listened to it. Other times, albums can sound familiar upon first listen, bring back a flood of memories even though you've never heard the songs. This is exactly what Balacade's new release Malaise Era offers. When I first listened to the album it took back back to the summer of 2004, when Grandaddy's Sumday and Dios' self-titled album were the soundtrack of evenings spent with friends around a campfire.

Balacade is the project of Victoria, B.C. musician Andrew Reynolds, who has been recording folk songs for the past five years. He has released three albums, and has regularly appeared on compilations of Victoria record label Old Life.

The album opens with the electronic folk track “L.A. 3600”, a song which eerily sounds like the Silly Kissers, and is an odd fit with the rest of the album. In no way is it bad, it just doesn't blend well with the other somber, lo-fi songs.

A highlight of Malaise Era is the song “Marigold”. It is obvious that Reynolds wears his musical influences on his sleeve, since the song heavily draws from Grandaddy's sound. Using group harmonies, a simple electric guitar riff, organ, and the consistent chugging of a shaker, the song is a beautiful track that is unfortunately more suited to warm summer nights. 
The familiar feeling I got when listening to the album once again reared its head with the last song. The album closes with “Isn't It A Pity”, which is a George Harrison cover from the 1970 release All Things Must Pass. Reynolds uses samples from the original recording, and sings Harrison's lyrics. The song is performed slower than the original, and Reynolds incorporates the sound of an old vinyl record popping – two elements which give the song a strange, other-worldly sound.

Despite the depressing name, Malaise Era is an excellent lo-fi album worth checking out. Even though Reynolds draws influence from albums released almost a decade ago, there is a timelessness to Balacade's sound.