San Diego

Sick Balloons' Lo-Fi ‘Flyover'

Sick Balloons, the North County grunge/garage-rock group, drop a lo-fi masterpiece of "desolate anthems"

"These are the pockets no one cares to stay in," it reads on the Sick Balloons Bandcamp page. "We are the voices overheard in passing. Anthems for the desolate, truths for the kids."

Those are bio bullet points, moving like song lyrics, as a synopsis of the North County band's most recent release "drive-thru towns, flyover states."

It's a lo-fi EP, full of muffled drums and bedroom witchcraft, that finds the group pushing out garage-rock washed in distortion that their bio further describes as "another glimpse of introspection and sonic declarations from the fuzz-loving quartet."

And love it they do, with musicians Brandon on drums, Jesse Lee on bass, and Cee Jay on guitar -- all holding down the rhythm -- while a layer of feedback serves to buoy frontman Scotty Barrett's mid-range phrasing and incisive songwriting.

There are traces of Dinosaur Jr. and Guided By Voices, points of reference indeed, but the band makes its own magic, like when barbershop harmonies pop up on the opener "Dial Away" or even three-quarters of the way through "I Started A Fire," as it develops from a driving, straight-ahead riff into a sprawling indie-rock singalong.

The EP is noisy and dense, no doubt, but these are anthems for the desolate, so it's also poignant and eloquent -- as in those moments when Barrett shares pearls like, "I will plant the truths, all over your mouth, the spark of fleeting youth, to hide and cover in for a-while," a gut check of a lead verse and a head-first dive into "Picnic on War."

And then they close out, true to form, with "I'm Still Here" chanting: "I don't wanna rule the world, I just wanna live my life, I'm not done yet," doing what they love, drenching everything in fuzz -- everything.

Sick Balloons perform at Boar Cross'n in Carlsbad Thursday, April 5, at 8 p.m. with the Thens and Muscle Beech.

J. Smith, aka 10-19, is a San Diego native, rap fan and San Diego Music Award-winning musician. You can follow him on Instagram at 10-19_the_numberman or on Twitter

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