Forged in the still-smoldering ashes of turn-of-the-90s cock rock and grunge, Lola Balatro has begun its riveting ascent up the sacred mountain of rocklore. With a genre-bending amalgam of instant classics, this Chicago-based trio effortlessly blends the unabashed sincerity of angst-driven post-punk with the unapologetic swagger of classic rock. Gifted tunesmiths in the mold of Cobain, Townshend, and Ocasek, Lola Balatro marries street-wise arrangements from the school of hard licks with textbook popology to generate a sonic fury that should inspire all regurgitating emo-core wannabes to recalculate their paint-by-the-numbers McRock.
In captivating live performances, dour frontman Jeff Madden's soulful howl is in overdrive, highlighted in the rockabilly antics of "F.A.M.", and vocal co-conspirator Paul Thomas's versatile crooning fills out the startlingly rich soundscape promulgated by this nascent group. Having imbibed the hooch of the guitar gods at an early age, virtuosic axman Cork Kangas shreds with buck-naked aggression over the unremittingly catchy riffs of Thomas's rhythm guitar, nimbly carving out solos from the subtle bombast that defines Lola Balatro's preternatural compositions. Kangas occasionally lends his own soaring harmonies as well, hearkening an alternate reality wherein Crosby, Stills, and Nash traveled the same musical journey with Neil Young long enough to share the “godfather of grunge” moniker.
From the fanged social critique ("Celebutante") to the urgent anthem ("Name That Panda") to the textured ballad ("Basement Head"), hook-laden earnestness proves the trademark of these enigmatic troubadours, whose lyrical imagery skillfully melds the profundity of a poet laureate with the libido of a longshoreman. Perhaps a line from the surefire hit “Wrecking Ball” might frame your mind for the exhilarant first coming of Lola Balatro: “Lay down for the show.”
Lola Balatro is Jeff Madden, Cork Kangas, and Paul Thomas.
"Lola Balatro are the post-grunge acoustic comedy rock pioneers that Chicago deserves."
-- WGN Radio
“It’s surprising to hear the three bad-ass looking dudes from Lola Balatro harmonizing to melodic acoustic-guitar arrangements on their self-titled debut. Even more surprising is that they’re pretty funny.”
-- Illinois Entertainer
“The music stands on its own, but songs such as “Name That Panda” and “I Got Two Black Friends” will make it clear it’s a comedy show. ”
-- Time Out Chicago