"As you’ve no doubt heard us mention before, as much as we love scouring the depths for cool new music (whether it be dusty used bins, garage sales, recommendations from friends or good old fashioned Bandcamp), there’s a special joy reserved for aQ walk-in discoveries. That is to say, someone who just strolls into the shop unexpectedly, brandishing an album they’ve just released - no expectations or preconceived notions. There’s nothing quite as exciting as placing said brandished record on the turntable & experiencing that moment of discovery as the realization dawns… It’s good. It’s reeeeal good. Such is the case with Balms! Seeping through the speakers like dust-speckled rays of hazy sunlight comes some of the most beautifully executed shoegazey dreampop we’ve heard in quite some time. And for a sound that’s arguably in no short supply right now (not that we’re complaining) that’s really saying something. There’s a pitch perfect balance of atmosphere & poppiness here. Guitars twinkle & drip like glittering syrup, the vocals lush & anesthetized, but surprisingly audible. As much as most bands plying in this trade like to bury their vocals in reverb & murk, Balms have a much more direct approach, and the result is an immediate emotional connection, a much more human sounding sort of shoegaze. And though Balms never really get heavy like, say, Nothing or Whirr (although they’re sure to appeal to fans of those guys) there’s still a rousing drive to their music - it’s just a drive that allows the spaciousness of their sound, the bittersweet heartswelling tug of those lost-summer-memory melodies, and the concise hookiness of their songwriting take center stage. It’s simple powerful stuff - the kind of record you want to hit repeat on over and over. Without a doubt one of our favorite recent local discoveries, and along with Modern Charms & Dissolve another glittering jewel in San Francisco’s dreamy shoegaze crown! For all of those unafraid to get a little starry-eyed, bleary-eyed & teary-eyed this couldn’t come more highly recommended!"
-aQuarius records, may 2015 (record of the month)
released November 6, 2014
Written, recorded, and mixed by Balms in 2014 in John's basement
Mastered by Justin Weiss
VInyl layout and art by John Kolesnikow
Back vinyl cover photo by Breanne Rupp