The Balkans don't fall far from Atlanta's punk rock tree 

There's something endearing about the Balkans' drummer Stanley Vergilis when he says he never knew the Balkans were a punk band until someone told him so after they played a recent house show. "We get a little wild when we play, but I always thought we were too reserved to be called punk," he offers.

"Reserved" doesn't capture the fast, percolating sound the Buckhead/Sandy Springs foursome of fresh-faced lads concoct. Together with Woody Shortridge (bass/guitar), Frankie Broyles (guitar/vocals) and Brett Miller (guitar/bass), the Balkans craft an energetic punk grind that waivers between bouts of sincerity and catharsis. A sense of chemistry binds the group's members, who met each other at Riverwood High School, where half are still riding out their wonder years.

The two songs on their debut 7-inch – a split with Trial By Fire on local label Die Indy Records – show off a palette of influences. The first song, "C++," is a short, instrumental punk jam. The second swan dives into a dreary, atmospheric round of shoe-gazer fog. But recent songs show the group drifting toward a fiery, precise rock terrain. Elements of surf rock give vague direction to "Zebra Print" and "Oh Dear." Each charges into obtuse, art-driven angles that transcend the kerrrang of '60s surf. "We haven't listened to a lot of surf music, but these songs are kind of like what we think surf music sounds like," Vergilis adds.

That approach culminates in a more precise sound than the garage plod of many of the group's Atlanta peers. But it's all a branch off the same punk tree. "I wouldn't even say that it's that tight," Miller says. "The energy is the same ... we're just not playing basic pop songs."


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