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Before Needs (feat. Stiv LeStar)

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Album Review

For Balcony's second album, majordomo Steven Lester cleaned up the production, creating a fully realized sound collage. Though Balcony's initial release, 777, has more immediate tunes, Before Needs is more compelling. "By All This," "Glittering Sacrifice," and "Loving You Always" (with its many Bowie marks) all capture the feel of 1980s alternative pop/rock, yet somehow avoid the nostalgic feel of most retro songs. "In the Meantime" is flat-out astonishing in its previously unthinkable (but definitely workable) fusion of goth rock and sunshine pop. The lounge-y "Black Sheep Girl" is kept from being just that, with integrated percussion and dissonance. Lester has also made Before Needs a more listener-friendly release, toning down the industrial influence and lead guitar. In fact, "Ariel" is the closest he's come to a straightforward pop song. The album is lighter lyrically as well, most evident on "Ariel" and the tender "Something's Wrong," another Balcony number that could easily pass for a Scott Walker solo track. "Candy Factory" is a beguiling closer, with Lester effectively answering his own hypothetical question: What if Sinatra had embraced new wave? Before Needs ends with one final eye-opener, appropriate for a record full of surprises.

Customer Reviews

Jobriath Saves

The inter web is choked with audiophiles searching in vain for the source of a lovely, haunting song about “Joe Briath,” ostensibly about the near forgotten glam god of the 70s. Most mistake this tune as the work of David Bowie or (?) David Sylvian and leave it at that. However they will miss the beauty of all Stiv LeStar’s depth and nuance that rivals both of these artists. He brings an impassioned and reverent tone to all the tracks on the album, alive with the nostalgia built in to the high production values of 80’s alternative rock.

Feast your ears on this album if you enjoy either of the above mentioned musicians, and especially if you don’t.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Balcony is Steven Lester (he also uses Stephen or Steve as a first name in album credits). Lester is a native of Birmingham, England, but came up with the idea for Balcony after moving to Los Angeles. Much like Chris Connelly, Lester's vocal often sounds like Scott Walker by way of David Bowie. The first Balcony CD, 777 (1998), is a unique record, finding acoustic guitars, saxophone, and strings (usually via a mellotron) merging with abrasive synthesized effects and loud lead guitar, topped off by...
Full Bio
Before Needs (feat. Stiv LeStar), Balcony
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