Coming Up For Air is a Dayton based alternative rock band whose songs are made up of solid rhythms, strong leads, and inspired lyricism all wrapped up in a real music experience unconcerned with overproduction. The band began as a pseudonym for Eric Ballein’s acoustic work, but with the addition of drums, lead guitar, and now bass guitar, the project has evolved into a collective unlike anything that had been initially conceived – Members: Ridge Higgins (Drums, Keys – Aux Percussion), Eric Ballein (Vocals & Guitar), Dylan Bailey (Guitar) and Anthony Mclaughlin (Bass).
Coming Up For Air are an anomaly: a band that reduces genres to their bare essentials to see how many ways they can twist, hammer, and shape it into something viable. They do this without an ounce of production flash or over-hyped technical abilities. The band is essentially an exercise in maximization through raw minimization. The variations and nuances they’re able to saturate this simplicity with is extraordinary. And the results on the album “Between the Party Lines” are endlessly surprising and rewarding.
Coming Up For Air seem to alternate between interpretations on traditional forms of alternative and indie rock and some experimentation. What catapults this album forward, besides the gritty guitar stylings, is the transcendent lyrical leap. If you normally care for lyrics, don’t panic as Eric Ballein forces you to pay attention to his words due to the inventiveness at which he writes and the originality in which he delivers.
Eric wrenches, bends and twists his syllables; emphasizing rhythmic drive and melody – his variety of emotive abilities carrying each song to its predetermined destination. If the idea of song is the fusion of music and words – where one acts to enhance the other – then Coming Up For Air has quickly perfected the formula.
I also appreciate the fearlessness at which they tackle everything. Most bands walk on eggshells afraid of failing, because they don’t have perfect music production or sound, but Coming Up For Air seem indifferent to this notion. They seem to belong to a bygone era. One in which bands pushed themselves into uncharted waters – growing and evolving in the studio instead of behind closed doors.
Perhaps, most importantly, they seem to produce everything with a real sense of passion and honesty, completely lacking any of the contrivances and pretenses in modern popular music. The band delivers a tower of sound and driving rhythms throughout the album. Songs that immediately caught my attention were, “Johnston Red”, “Serpent Red”, “Doublethink”, “Static Faith” and “Violet”.
Something that is also very surprising about “Between the Party Lines” is its consistency. You would think that a band who doesn’t give two hoots about overblown technicalities would slip up here and there. But instead, Coming Up For Air are competent musicians and their technique is absolutely spot-on for what they want to do. They capture raw emotions in words and music and craft a completely enjoyable listening experience.