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La Scala debuts The Harlequin

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 26, 2008 6:15PM

2008_02_la_scala.jpgBalthazar de Ley has been putting out consistently great music since starting up Menthol during his college days in downstate Illinois. His songwriting took root in the slab-like guitar college-rock that typified the Champaign-Urbana sound in the early '90s, but later in the decade we discovered his incredibly deft hand when it came to constructing a pop tune. Menthol's final album remains one of our favorite releases of all time, so when we heard de Ley had decided to soldier on with a different band, under the moniker La Scala, we were rather excited to hear the results.

La Scala has spent the last year honing their live sound and perfecting their own melodramatic mixture of new wave and Franco/Italo-pop. Driving rhythms and shiny guitars dance along side frantic strumming that brings to mind a dozen mandolins all fighting for the same slice of the audience's attention. The band released their debut 7", The Harlequin, today and the disc collects four songs -- five on the CD that comes included with each slab of vinyl ... La Scala wants everyone to hear their tunes, turntable or not -- that have been thrilling us in their live set over the past few months. Opener "Bon Vivant" sets the template cum rallying cry for the rest of the disc, setting aside equal parts desperation and joy, both driven by de Ley's urgent vocal delivery. "Parallel Lines" continues the dance rock theme -- and by this we don't mean Brooklyn disco but rather latter-'70s Bowie groove -- and this theme keeps a strong grasp throughout the remainder of the disc.

Oddly, the band's catchiest offering isn't included on the vinyl so make sure you don't overlook the included CD, or you'll miss the chance to sing along with the impossibly buoyant chorus of "Love!Love!Love!" And with those closing strains we find ourselves thirsting for the next offering from the band.