|ADAM BALBO "6 Outta 9 w/Beats" (Self-Released)
This one's for everybody who's ever been to a show at Hotel Utah in San Francisco. And if you haven't, try to imagine this big old building on a corner, few blocks off fast Market Street. The music comes from a bare room with some chairs, benches and tables in various shapes and sizes. Not really a basement, as the windows are high in the wall, so it's not uncommon to see a homeless man outside, listening and even dancing to the music. This is the livingroom for artists like Adam Balbo, who bring their intelligent, witty, often explicit lyrics on a base of lo-fi folk. Like for Dutch "conferenciers", words are most important here, although Adam has a pleasant voice, his music is just rudimentary: an acoustic guitar, a harmonica and a Casio! That's where the title comes from, "6 Outta 9 w/ Beats", six songs include that Casio.
"I have this freshly pressed, factory-smelling, cardboard, sorta-professional-looking bright-blue-ish, vegetable bearing CDs", Adam mentioned and I think he can be proud of this second self-released album. It's for the limited number of music lovers who are into lo-fi artists, but they're often the most loyal fans! At Adam's My Space we see a number of very interesting characters gathered as friends, among them The JJ Schultz Band, JJ was already a favorite of mine! Gerry Mak (of Flavor Pill) says about Adam: "His songs function like funhouse mirrors for humanity and offer solace for anyone who feels clobbered by pop culture, politicians, and the general stupidity of the world."
I actually heard so much good stuff, suitable for quotes, that it was hard to make a choice... "I found my muse but I lost my favorite attitude / It fell somewhere between the whisper and the boom" ("Samba Blues"). And Adam doesn't like the president: "This man stands for unity? / He can't even get his subjects and verbs to agree", so please listen to "Talkin' Bush", "before he bombs another somethin-stan"! "Let's be cynical together / and expound on each other's doom / plot out a torturous monotony and / find out if there's enough room for / all the attitudes, hardened in the crossfire / or storage space in the tomb", from "Let's Feel Terrible Together", which contains also this wonderful line: "Just another pile of sand in some desert / or a wave beating on a stubborn shore". I know, I'm a lyrics freak... One more quote? In "Sad
Disco" Adam concludes: "There is no manual to manage this task / how you are or how you could / collect all the weatherman's hardback forecasts / or when that wind smacks, where to buy a hood / or detail the sound of the tree that fell / way off in the distant woods". And how about that nine-and-a-half minutes track, sounding like Dylan accidentally bumped into EminEm in front of a tango school and they end up taking turns dancing with Lady Liberty? "You don't need a document to hear the long quick tango". Not even a Green Card? Cool!
I came across a picture where Adam put a cuddly monkey and panda on stage, the panda probably referring to the time he lived in Bejing: "Been in Asia so long, I can't use a fork" ("Noise In My Head"). Chinese student Wu Nan already knows him from back then and tells about a performance at the Yu Gong Yi Shan club: "A dark old building where a bunch of dudes and chicks were drinking RMB20 Qing Dao and sitting together to listen to his songs. Adam was wearing the same glasses and holding his old guitar..." From the Yu Gong Yi Shan club to Hotel Utah, wow...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, February 2007.