New Electric Ride: “Balloon Age”

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New Electric Ride, the Psychedelic indie rock band signed to Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, is set to release its debut LP, Balloon Age on February 25th. The album contains psychedelic songs laced with tinny vocals, quirky keyboard, and a flanged up sound reminiscent of The Beatles, but before you go comparing them to John, Paul, George, and Ringo, a few words:

Balloon Age, an apparent ode to The Beatles (specifically Yellow Submarine) manages to pay homage to the Fab Four, while still showcasing New Electric Ride’s unique style. More pop-driven songs like “Bye Bye (Baton Rouge)” showcase the band’s ability to write a catchy hook without sacrificing their sound. Riff-driven tracks like “Lovers” highlight the group’s commitment to creating dynamic rock songs. But still, I found myself constantly comparing the album to the countless hours I’ve spent listening to The Beatles discography. While this comparison can be high praise, it can also be crippling. Whenever any band steps into the arena with The Beatles they tend to magnify their weaknesses and minimize their strengths. Luckily for New Electric Ride, the George-Harrison-style guitar can sound great if a song has enough catchy creativity to back it up – and in the case of Balloon Age, the creativity is palpable with each track.

Generally speaking, everyone’s favorite cook is his or her mom. My mom makes the best chicken piccata that I’ve ever tasted (mad props to Debra). At this point in the review, you’re probably asking, “Colby, why are you talking to me about delicious Italian cuisine and your mom?” What I’m getting at is this: While my mom’s chicken piccata will always be the best in my mind, I still like the dish when someone else cooks it, because that’s my taste. Maybe the sauce is too thick, maybe they forgot the capers… I’m still going to eat it, and nine times out of ten, I’m going to like it. Maybe the tinny vocals and the flanged up sound works better on some songs more than others, but I still like that Lennon sound. The question becomes, is the album a unique, successful expression of a new voice?  And in this case, I believe that it is.

At some point or another, every rock band enters into the arena with The Beatles in some way whether they like it or not. I mean, The Beatles are basically the successful older brother that casts a never-ending shadow for the rest of us to live in. Maybe that’s the issue. Is it really fair to judge a band based on the scale created by legends? Even if that band draws creatively from the style of a legendary group like The Beatles? New Electric Ride seems to pose this sort of question in “A Submarine Song.” The band asks “isn’t it mean how no one can dream about writing a submarine song anymore?” Have people like me killed the dream by constantly judging one piece of music, art, or literature in relation to another?

What’s the point in creating music if you can’t dream of being the best? Can’t you at least aspire to write something as iconic and great as “Yellow Submarine?” Just because it’s been done before, can we not draw from and build upon the successful sounds laid down by our musical forefathers? If that’s the case, then I might as well just lay down the pen (or shut my laptop down), because I’m sure that I’ve consciously and subconsciously used phrases and styles from past writers who were far superior and more successful than me.

Look, I know as well as the next listener that it’s damn near impossible to listen to an album with tinny, flanged up vocals with harmony and not think of The Beatles, but before we judge a band based on that criteria, maybe we should consider other things – like how much we genuinely enjoyed listening to the album, regardless of whether or not it was as good as Magical Mystery Tour. There will never be another group like The Beatles or another album like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it’s refreshing to see a band take those sounds and make them their own in an attempt to create something new and great. New Electric Ride does just that with Balloon Age.

I’m done rambling now. Go listen to the album and eat some chicken piccata.

Hailing from 'The Good Life City' of Albany, Georgia, Colby Pines is the middle child of five boys. While his family is primarily comprised of men, the Pines family did have a female dog once... unfortunately she died... God bless his poor mother. When Mr. Pines was in third grade the doctors discovered that he had an extra bone in his knee. The bone did not possess any magical powers or help Colby run faster/jump higher, so the doctors surgically removed the bone and refused to let Colby keep it as a souvenir. Colby recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree in having cool friends and wearing great sweaters. Colby studied abroad at Oxford University's Trinity College where he was able to visit three of the four coasts, but was not able to bring back a baby with a British accent. Colby enjoys going to the movies, scotch, traveling, playing folk music with his band, BirdHead, eating good and bad food, writing, dabbling, playing Fantasy Football with his Pigskinz and Sundee Beerz League, reading a great book, and all sorts of music. While Colby has a bit of a bipolar taste in music, some of his favorite bands include: Band of Horses, Death Cab for Cutie, 2pac, Washed Out, Johnny Cash, Childish Gambino, Local Natives, The Beatles, Danny Brown, and Beach House. Colby is currently single and quite possibly ready to mingle. Colby has broken five bones, saved two children from drowning, been to Canada twice, and almost fallen into The Grand Canyon once. While he tends to miss things like Breaking Bad, eighth grade, Hey Arnold!, and Surge soda, Colby's excited for the future where he hopes to continue writing and doing the things that he loves.

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