Rating: 7 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Drag City

Magic Markers have the kind of hipster credentials that turn on clueless dullards like Jefferson "what a fucking" Hack, but don’t let that put you off. Sure there are their umpteen amounts of CD-r releases for you to wade through and the smug patronage of Messers Moore and Ranaldo to labour the point, but there’s a bucket full of soul and fire that mainlines through Balf Quarry‘s caustic energy and stripped down spirituals. 

Downsizing to a duo in Elisa Ambrogio and Pete Nolan, Balf Quarry has a richer and diverse sonic palette than previous efforts. Ambrogio’s voice is still Gordon/Lunch ice queen cool but isn’t always couched in atonal, earth scorching guitars. The tick-tock rhythms of ‘7/23’ underpin a disconcertingly eerie tune akin to an acid spiked nursery rhyme recital. ‘Ohio R./Live/Hoosier’ is a splendid appropriation of the Shangri-Las by way of riot-grrrl, all beautifully spindly reverb guitars and drunken drums teetering on the brink of being in time. Elsewhere it’s business as usual: ear wax evaporating indie-punk that’s just a bit too in thrall of Daydream Nation. But despite their already sizable back catalogue, it’s early days and Balf Quarry points to a fine, frazzled, future.

Rich Hanscomb

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