La Ti Da (2015)
If you want to point to a specific record that I have been waiting for over the last few years, the debut full length from The Ballantynes would be awfully high on my list. Ever since I received their second 7" as part of a singles club, I have been completely hooked on this band. I've bought every thing they've released the moment it came out and there was a zero percent chance that I would treat their full length any different.
The Ballantynes are very obvious disciples of the Stax and Motown catalogs. They've created a powerhouse of a band with alternating deep, soulful male vocals and soaked in harmony female vocals. This allows them to pay homage to the stylings of Otis Redding in one song and then seamlessly slide into the next track that will touch on the hallmarks of Carla Thomas. Everything is just such a joy to listen to with the warm bass tones and economical drumming laying down the foundation that drives each number. As this foundation is accented with touches of guitar, horns and organ, the songs take shape and simply explode with life.
I'll admit to being partial to the faster paced songs like "PMA," "My Place, Your Town" and "Argent." That being said, when The Ballantynes really slow things down and go for the throat with tracks like "Ghosts" or "Cropper" the results are just as exciting. Every time I listen to this album all I can think about is how much fun it probably is at a live show of theirs. The band is based in Canada, but I really hope they end up coming down my way to play some shows now that this album is out.
Dark Drives, Life Signs is such a strange beast in 2015 and I mean that in the absolute best possible way. You're just not going to find many bands playing such rich soulful music these days. I guess it's just not fashionable, but the talent and musicianship that went into this record is at a much higher level than so much that comes out these days. I couldn't possibly recommend this album along with all of the band's preceding singles highly enough.
The Ballantynes - Dark Drives, Life Signs: