Saturday, April 30, 2011

Balloon Guy - The West Coast Shakes

My next choice of album is an album which I believe cannot be found for download anywhere on the Internet, "The West Coast Shakes" by Balloon Guy. As in, I do not know of a Mediafire or Rapidshare link to this album, and there are no songs by this band posted on Youtube. [Edit: This is not true! See the links at the end of this post] However, in the theme of the albums I am going to post, it is available on the cheap in the cut-out bin of the Internet that is known as Amazon Marketplace, and a couple of days ago, my order for a three-dollar used copy of this record came in.

The few places on the Web that have mentions of this obscure Minnesota band tend to say things along the vein that Balloon Guy are "slacker" rock. Sure, Balloon Guy's wobbly chords and drunken grunge schtick resemble a more groomed - yet far less consistent - Midwestern variant of Pavement, I certainly don't hear anything "slacker" about it. If anything, with every hit of the (two?) fast-decaying splash cymbals you can hear what sounds like an immense time and money commitment from the Warners' towards the album: the playing is tight, and the production sound is that big and glossy post-grunge sound seen on many a '90s major-label release.

I've only listened to "The West Coast Shakes" once and am, if anything, confused about what exactly Warners saw in this band. I feel that Balloon Guy could have been a respectably good Pavement clone on an indie label, but if anything, Balloon Guy personify the kind of disillusionment that Steve Albini wrote about in his essay "The Trouble with Music": the band that got courte
d by the majors, released an album that failed to go anywhere, and suddenly disappeared.

In general, Balloon Guy are much bluesier and have more '60s classic-rock and '70s prog-rock influence than any of their contemporaries such as the Archers of Loaf. I was disappointed the first time around, but by now I enjoy about half of the songs. Easily, Balloon Guy can go into the canon of overlooked Nineties alt-rock.

Link [here]
More info on the band [here]
More on Balloon Guy including some early indie-label singles: [link]
Want a real copy? Amazon Marketplace has new copies for a buck and used copies for a penny.


Anonymous said...

The mid 90s were a time when major labels weretrying to anticipate the next big thing post nirvana. Warner bros signed the band largely on the strength if their regional appeal in the mpls area.What they got in return was a above average college rock band with very little national appeal. The same conclusion and outcome happened in the twin cities scene with polara and later 12 rods. That is, sold out shows in the midwest dont translate into automatic platinum record success.

brian koschak said...

hey thanks for linking that download. i had this and sold it years and years ago but always wanted to hear it again. gracias

Meghan said...

I know this is an old thread, but thank you so much for posting this. Forgot how much I love this band!