Live Review: French Vanilla Band Tasty But Not ‘Sweet’




French Vanilla at The Smell - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
French Vanilla at The Smell - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

French Vanilla may be an acquired taste, but it’s one of the best new punk flavors around.

Don’t let the name fool you, there isn’t too much that’s sweet about this band.  It’s pure outrage and it should be savored.

Sally and the French Vanilla crew

Front woman Sally is so compelling and so passionate live, she’s hard to deny.  Drummer Max keeps the beat during some deceivingly complicated songs, Ali keeps it together on guitar and bass and Daniel doubles as guitarist and sax player. The sax work lends a chaotic presence to the overall sound that takes the frenzy to a new level.

French Vanilla front woman Sally revs up the crowd at The Smell 20th Anniversary - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
French Vanilla front woman Sally revs up the crowd at The Smell 20th Anniversary – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Kate Pierson Meets Su Tissue

Sally sounds a little like a combination of Kate Pierson and Su Tissue of the ’70s punk band Suburban Lawns. That’s no little feat as Pierson’s voice is amazing and Tissu had the honor of being one of the inspirations for the early days of West Coast punk.

French Vanilla as Powerhouse

But that’s where the similarity ends. Physically, Sally is a tall red-headed powerhouse whose emotion lends fire to some urgent songs.  She doesn’t pretend to be a girly girl and instead, gives it a physical, “no frills” performance.

The songs on their album French Vanilla are about some of the most pressing issues of our day and these people have got it right. Songs like “Honesty,” “Anti-Aging Global Warming,” and “Social Trappings” underscore the battle we are in whether many of us realize it or not.

French Vanilla has a message - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
French Vanilla has a message for the fans – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Self Titled Album ‘French Vanilla’

There are no clear favorites on this album as all the songs are great.  Okay, “Thru The Earth,” has a beat that careens us through the New York days and brings us out into a hellish vibrato of panic as typical of the Big Apple.

Of note: Tucker Robinson has done a great job recording, mixing and mastering the record. This is one on our wish list.