In a time where music has become extremely easy to access via the net the magic of finding an unknown band at random has almost disappeared. Sure you can find less well known bands but chances are that someone else found them first and the blog hype has already begun by the time you actually get your ears on the music. Thus, the pleasure and excitement of hearing October’s Road, the new release from Balto: you can still be the first one on your block to discover the joys of this new band and catch it at the very moment when its talent begins to bloom, before they’ve even been signed to a record label
Balto are led by singer and songwriter Daniel Sheron. Sheron is the band’s sole songwriter and lead singer and wrote these songs before forming the band, so Balto’s music is very much his creation. After graduating college in 2010 Sheron left the US for Moscow, Russia and after some time there he quit his job and traveled in Siberia. It was during this time that he wrote what would become October’s Road, and developed a music style that he himself dubs “TransSiberian Americana”. After returning to the US in late 2010 Sheron and a couple of friends recorded October’s Road and the album was later mixed by The Felice Brothers’ producer Jeremy Backofen before being released online on February 16.
TransSiberian Americana is in many ways an excellent description of the sound of October’s Road - it is definitely Americana, but Americana with a unique influence from his time in Russia which makes it stand out among its contemporaries. What makes the album a success is the consistently high quality of Sheron’s songwriting,including his lyrics which are always honest, sometimes painfully so, and often heartbreaking, shifting between the real and the abstract. The record tells the story of Sheron’s time in Russia, but its real focus are his reasons for leaving the US – a story most listeners should be able to find a connection with. October’s Road may just be the best album I’ve heard by an unsigned new artist, and in a music world where Americana and folk rock are doing quite well, with bands like Fleet Foxes headlining festivals, Balto are definitely made for a bigger stage. If there’s any justice they’ll get a proper record deal soon.
The band’s got the entire record available at their Bandcamp page where you can stream it, or buy it for a mere 4 dollars, but we’ve got two streams for you right here if you haven’t been convinced yet. The two tracks I’ve picked are the opening track “The Railyard” (which you can download for free at their Bandcamp page) and “Don Quixote”, one of the more upbeat tracks on the record.