During the week-long Indie blog ‘gasmfest known as CMJ, I was lucky enough to be my friend’s +1 to the Domino Records showcase. It was lovely. As soon as we got there, we were happily surprised to learn about their open bar situation and took advantage of it because in this economy, one must go where the bargain takes you.
While we’re at the bar, a band comes on and two songs into their set, it feels as though we’re listening to a Real Estate tribute band, which is something that’s been happening more and more recently. We start calling them Basically Real Estate. Once they finish, I’m buzzed enough to start outwardly saying, “Thank you! We are Basically Real Estate, you’ve been great!” The person sitting next to us, patiently dealing with my dumbness throughout the set, finally turns to me and informs me that the lead singer of that band was, in fact, the lead singer of Real Estate. What a small, derivative, world.
Blanko Basnet is by no means in the Basically Real Estate category, but there’s no denying a few key DNA strands that make up the band’s sound. The gentle cooing of Joe Hall’s voice is the most immediate similarity here, but then the smooth jangly rhythms prominent in Blanko’s self-titled LP make the connection even stronger.
But what makes Blanko Basnet such a fun and captivating listen is how they deviate from the pleasurable rhythm those foggy beach rock bands are able to cultivate. Before forming Blanko, Hall fronted Hammer No More The Fingers, a really fun band with straightforward hooks and impressive guitar chops that make each song a guessing game to see where the tempo goes. Hall brings a lot of those qualities to this project and it makes for a melding of styles seldom seen for this style of music. It keeps Blanko Banset from falling into easy listening territory.
Each song off Blanko Basnet has a unique wrinkle that forces you to be present when listening to them. It can’t just be played as background music while studying, when all of a sudden realize you listened to the entire album once the silence hits. Do not expect songs to have choruses consisting entirely of “ooohs” and “aaaahs” like some ribbon cutting ceremony attendee. There will be moments that jump out at you. “Forest” and “Oysters” each have a great build to them, while the two instrumentals on the album, “Father” and “Face Plant” offer the most sonic variety by far. Breakbeat drum kits and acoustic guitar plucking somehow make sense together on those songs, it’s weird.
Although it’s a genre that’s fine as is for the most part, it’s nice seeing a band like Blanko Basnet gently shaking up the status quo of the Basically Real Estate world. Perhaps it can inspire Mr. Basically Real Estate himself (I know I can Google his name, I’m just being lazy. Fine, I’ll look it up right now… It’s Martin Courtney) to branch out. Martin Courtney needs you, Blanko Basnet!