Recommended Albums #44

  burn a quiet place downmy dead air

My Dead Air: Burn a Quiet Place Down (2010)

My Dead Air: My Dead Air (2011)

Sometimes–not often, but sometimes–it’s an artist’s so-called “side project” that resonates more with a particular listener than their “day job” band. For instance, as respected as Steven Wilson’s Porcupine Tree is in contemporary prog circles, his work with Aviv Geffen in Blackfield means much more to me personally. Punk band The Bronx never made any connection with me until they made a mariachi album.

I’ll give you a second to absorb that last sentence.

Brothers Josh and Dan Ballard make up two-thirds of Until June, a band in which stratospheric vocals are matched with dramatic arrangements for an almost Coldplay-esque brand of hyperemotive pop. They are (or were) a fine band, and one which deserved wider popularity. Check them out here.

But the Ballards have produced music under at least two other brands. And it’s with brother Dan’s material issued under the banner of My Dead Air that I’m truly smitten.

It’s almost too good to believe the way a series of gently beguiling melodies follow one after another in unbroken succession on these too-obscure releases. Perfect for (among other moments) the bedtime hour, My Dead Air has been singing me to sleep for two weeks straight now, and as much as I like variety in my music selection nothing seems to be able to displace them.

Maybe the fact that this is more of a lark than a stab at stardom is the secret formula here. Where Until June’s music is driving, sweeping, almost melodramatic, with soaring vocals and kettle drum percussion for added gravitas (all things I love about the band by the way) this is the flipside of that band’s melodic pop personality: understated, with a relaxed vocal delivery and a soothing sound–almost lullaby-soft at times. The melodies bring to mind a few of the more haunting tunes on Ben Folds Five’s Reinhold Messner LP–high praise by my reckoning.

If this isn’t the music with which Ballard can break big on a major label, then I’m grateful for the secondary outlet of this side project. For me at least, My Dead Air has proved to be the most richly rewarding of his work.

Listen to: “Won’t Let Me Go”

Listen to: “Your Eyes Are Killing Me”

Listen to: “Dropped On My Head”

Listen to: “Two Of You”

Listen to: “What A Foolish Thing”

Listen to: “NY/LA”

See also:

See also:

See also:

See also:

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