Balto | Shots in the Dark

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Rock: Roots Rock Country: Alt-Country Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Shots in the Dark

by Balto

Unbridled American Rock and Roll - steeped in the mythology of the legendary songwriters and the almighty groove. Biting cynicism, instant classics, rip-your-heart-out live energy, a willingness to swagger, shred hard, and live behind the beat.
Genre: Rock: Roots Rock
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1. Shots in the Dark
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Take heart with Balto’s Strangers. It channels a feeling — once pervasive in American and British music— that time is ultimately survivable. Whether the hours are flying by or looking bleak, Balto keeps moving on and moving forward, even as the mood roams from wild revelry, to wry forbearance, to the foolproof remedy of rock-and-roll blasted at full volume. The Balto story begins six years previous, when singer and guitarist Daniel Sheron wrote the first album, October’s Road, holed up in splendid isolation in Siberia, Russia. Sheron then returned to the States, assembled a band, and has since increasingly turned from his earlier confessional tone to a rowdier gonzo embrace of musical Americana. Taking root in Portland, Oregon, Balto expanded to a four-piece with Seth Mower, Devon Hoffner, and Luke Beckel on drums, bass, and guitar (respectively), and dropped an EP, Call it by its Name. For their next full album, Balto sought a little more alchemy in the recording process itself, something approaching the legendary sessions of yesteryear, a half-party kilter, free from the confines of a typical studio setup. Recently returned from a grueling tour of Alaska’s interior, they found a farmhouse studio, located in the fields of an agricultural island in Oregon, and sojourned there for nine days— stocked with a generation of new songs, dozens of borrowed instruments, and several hundred tallboys.

The loose, bucolic setting made for fertile developments. Songs took on a backporch ease. Instrumentation got ad hoc, with a tuba loaned from a local middle school and an empty swimming pool serving as a reverb chamber. With the opportunity to become truly lost in their work, ideas and paint flew at the walls; yet the project stayed tight and bright through the discerning production of Phillipe Bronchtein, who balanced the looseness of the sessions with gentle rigor and clarity, welcoming Sheron’s penchant for bombast while bringing the razor to things whenever necessary. Consequently, the alloyed sounds on Strangers are uncluttered and weighted perfectly to the musical arcs they tender. In the final mix (courtesy of Jeff Saltzman), every note rings out and fades away in the expanse, revealing in full Balto’s luscious and impeccable songcraft.

Likewise, the plentiful influences—Motown, Big Star, Alabama Shakes, Plastic Ono Band-era Lennon— seep in without lapsing into pastiche or overwhelming the sturdy rock-and-roll armature of the melody. Instead, it feels like a long, open-windowed trek through the dusty highways of America. This metaphor works doubly well since Strangers is all but engineered to listen to while hightailing it for a new life on another coast. The odyssey finally rounds out with the bare and heart-baring One Night Show, that leaves the listener on a note of irresolution, a fitful farewell that’s half-ready to get in the car and drive all the way back again. If so, Balto has already made their case by record’s end: good times shouldn’t wait for the bad to go away.

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