I’ve always thought Kings of Leon earning the title of “the Southern Strokes” was a crock. Sure, the Followgill siblings share a few musical traits with the deadpan NYC quintet, but as The Guardian’s Niall Doherty put it recently “a more accurate description might be the Cattle-ranch Coldplay.”
If any band truly deserves to be described as the Southern Strokes, it’s Atlanta’s Balkans. Formed in 2008 while the members were still in high school, they released a string of singles before a sole full length arrived four years later. Following Balkans’ dissolution at that time, singer/guitarist Frankie Broyles joined Deerhunter around the releases of 2013’s Monomania, before issuing an underrated solo album, and most recently co-founding Omni.
Listening back to Balkan’s self-titled album today, with a new reissue tacking on four songs from their early singles, they sound like a band with boundless energy and ambition. Needling guitar riffs come fast and frantic, while the elongated enunciations of Broyles’ choruses will worm their way into your brain and hang out for a while. If the hyperbolic music journalists at the time had their heads on straight, they might have found the real saviors of rock and roll a few states down from Julian Casablancas. | j locke
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