Album review: Biljanaires – The End of September EP

March 23, 2012
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Biljanaires - End of September EP artworkTitle: The End of September
Artist: Biljanaires
Label: Self-Released
Released: March 2012
In One Word: Confused

Biljanaires are a band. Their (self-written, I assume) artist bio on their Reverb Nation site describes themselves thusly: “Biljanaires are a Rock/Alternative group from Vancouver BC, Canada. Their style of Hard Rock and Alternative influences, electric and acoustic mix of songs with heavy riffs arranged through melodic feel, enables them with an endless path of musical possibilities.” If you think that stilted, hackneyed, probably quite earnest and certainly run-on state of intent gives a hint of what their music sounds like, you are completely correct. There are other, more obvious hints too, (just in case it’s not your job to do research, as it is for yours truly): for one thing, the unintentionally goofy cover of The End of September EP presents some mixed, confused messages. The band logo and the big, smoking black car are probably intended to imply a kind of dated ZZ Top-style chrome-plated badassery, even though it really just suggests a shitty hip-hop mixtape that you bought on the street for too many of your hard-earned dollars. But then, the font of the EP’s title makes me think of The Offspring immediately. Check it out, you’ll get it.

Now, I just gave Biljanaires a lot of shit in that last paragraph, and not much of it had to do with their music. I realize that. This is because I think these boys might have something, but damn if they don’t need to get their aesthetic presentation in order. So, that was the stick, and here is the carrot: the thing is, Biljanaires are not a terrible band. They’re certainly not a particularly good one, and they’ll definitely never be a great band. Biljanaires mostly specialize in fairly generic, sterile rawk-pop, but sprinkled across this very mixed-up EP’s seven tracks, there are a couple of genuinely pleasant, well-executed moments. “Third Beach” is by far the best song here. With its meaty power-chords and slight, summery guitar leads, its a great exercise in putting the pop before the rawk (even switching that “aw” back to a solid “oc”, perhaps). Real nice coda too, with some backing vocals that suggest either some forgotten one-hit wonder from the 90s or one of the more recent 90s revivalist bands, and I mean that as a compliment. Actually, now that I think about it, “Third Beach” would have made a really great Surfer Blood song; its even got the title down. “Little Moon” even has a bit of a Guided By Voices kind of melody going for it, and so does “Everytime I Walk Away” until it ruins itself with clunky chug-chuggy guitars.

And therein lies Biljanaires greatest weakness: these guys seem to have a pretty big soft spot for the dulcet tones of Chad Kroeger and Dave Grohl’s particular brand of Top 40 crunch-rock, and unfortunately, they are mostly successful in their attempts to replicate the guitar sounds of their heroes (in case you had to look up “dulcet”, yes, I am laying the sarcasm on real thick). It’s a shame, because that kind of unpleasantness really serves to undercut some decent tunes.

So, my open address to Biljanaires:

Gentlemen. You’ve done some good work, and some not-as-good work. But I really do think you’ve got the potential to do more of that good work. Listen to “Third Beach” again. That’s your ticket, sweethearts. Keep working that.

Oh, and change that fucking band name.

Best Wishes,

J.

© Justin Santelli, Music Vice

Internet links:
Biljanaires


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J. Francis

J. Francis is a freelance music critic that sprouted like an unsightly growth from the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area and eventually ended up in Kingston, Ontario. He is a man of deliriously firm, contradictory convictions, with a life-long dream of dismantling high-art/low-art hierarchies. He loves pop music with a passion that many find unsettling and is often mistaken as being somehow ironic or insincere (nothing could be further from the truth). His favourite album is Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell. He knows that you think that's ridiculous. Regardless, he hopes you have a good day.

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