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Volume 70, Issue 60, Monday, November 15, 2004

Life & Arts

Actor should stick with his day job

By Zach Lee
The Daily Cougar

There's something undeniably cute about a small-time actor making music in his free time, and it's especially adorable when he makes a valiant attempt to be taken seriously as a musician. If he's smart, Eric Balfour has omitted his part in the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on his résumé, but he probably hasn't. Instead, he's used his modest fame to work with his band Fredalba and help launch the band's debut album, Uptown Music for Downtown Kids. In itself, his action is valiant, but he should have waited until the band was ready.

Fredalba is original, to say the least, but that originality is unfocused and chaotic, bringing a plethora of styles together precariously. The band utilizes turntables, keyboards and a flute along with the old standbys guitar, bass and drums. Balfour is the lead singer. One of the album's first singles, "Gimme More," begins with an intriguing flute melody played over guitars with a touch of Spanish flavor. That part is good, but when Balfour starts singing, all the potential comes crashing down. He's not a terrible vocalist, but his rhyme schemes are choppy and sophomoric, a combination that simply can't do justice to the flute bridges between chorus and verse. 

"Revelation," the album's other single, is an annoying array of guitar echoes and a chorus that sounds like P.O.D. with a female vocalist. One of the worst tracks, however, is the first on the album, "Funk Exploration." A slow beat that would make Blockhead proud is ruined by jangling guitars and Balfour's terrible impression of a Jamaican accent.

With reggae, rock, hip-hop and an array of other more obscure influences, Fredalba obviously needs more time to find its own style. There is, however, a silver lining to this cloud. The interesting combination of such a diverse list of musical styles, while not being concrete enough to make Uptown Music a great album, is enough to fill it with countless quality samples. In the right hands, pieces of Fredalba's music could be transformed into powerful beats. 


Uptown Music for Downtown Kids

Piller Records

Verdict: Best served in very small pieces

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