|CMJ NEW MUSIC
July 14, 1989
FLOORS, Drumming on the Walls
Local heroes in their hometown of
Pittsburgh, PA, on their second release
(cassette and CD only-sign o' the times,
eh?), the Affordable Floors fuse a
keyboard- and bass-dominated pop sound
with elements of jazz and lite funk,
sounding at different times like Peter
Gabriel, Pierce Turner and Eurythmics
(musically, not vocally). The overall
sound is heavy on ambience, but Blackout's
prominent banjo and acoustic guitars give
the song a kinda country, almost
Mellencamp feel, and occasional punchy
brass embellishments liven up the
atmospherics. An impressive, subtle
record that is a great progression from
its predecessor, Drumming On The Walls
shows a band with depth whose potential
has apparently only been scratched. Top
cuts: The Red Room, Blackout
and Wedding Ring.
The Top , July 14, 1989
By Patrice Baldwin
heroes-every minor metropolis and tiny
hamlet has them. You know the type-that
hardworking band of musicians that toils
away every Friday and Saturday night at
the local hot spot, inciting dancing,
exciting local beauties, increasing the
revenues of each beer-soaked watering
hole. These unsung pop-rock stars go
largely unnoticed, except in unusual
Twisted Sister, a
major hit on the heavy-metal market,
began as a Long Island, New York, bar
band before becoming the first group in
history to sell out Radio City Music Hall
bereft of a record deal. And now, if the
unidentified "random Oakland"
punk in the Affordable Floors press
release has anything to say about it,
this band will be the next to take its
place in the rock annals, because in
Pittsburgh, "The Floors f**king
The five-man unit
is uncommonly popular in their hometown
of Pittsburgh, selling out local clubs
like Graffiti as well as supporting acts
like the Human League at local
universities. Yet all five members of the
band hold down rather demanding day jobs.
Drummer Ken Zenkevich is by day a
mechanical engineer. "Working brings
you down to earth, and that helps you
keep everything in perspective, making
your songwriting better," he says.
"Artists start creating from
day-to-day experiences-and you don't get
that from being a rock star."
Harvey Coblin, the
lead singer who doubles as a banker, and
keyboard player Kirk Botula are the
principal writers of the songs that,
contrary to current guitar or sampling
trends, are keyboard- and
rythym-oriented. Together with guitarist
Eric Hertzog and bassist Eric Riebling,
they craft intelligent, worldly tunes
that are definitely danceable. But
perhaps the most remarkable aspect of
those unsigned local heroes is the fact
that they have chosen to independently
release their second album on CD and
cassette, eschewing the usual foray into
vinyl. Says Coblin, "We debated for
several weeks about our first album,
because the sound quality wasn't so
hot-due in part to our
recorded "The Sounding" in 1988
after winning a local band competition.
Despite Coblin's misgivings about the LP,
it garnered rave reviews from the local
press. "When the master tape was
pressed onto vinyl, it lost a lot of
sound quality," he continues.
"Around that time, I bought a CD
player-they're addictive!" Kirk
Botula concurs, adding, "It is not a
whole lot more expensive to release a CD
than an LP, and you get the same sound
that left the studio."
Coming to an
"alternative" radio station
near you in the near
future-"Drumming on the Walls."
The hardest-core new-music aficionado is
hereby defied to desist dancing to
"Blackout," or "A Thousand
Days," where Burundi-beat drumming
meets the best of the English
synth-invasion melodies. A high-tech CD
gamble for a relatively unknown talent?
Maybe. But the working-class Affordable
Floors will not be dissuaded. "As
long as people want to hear us,"
says Botula, "we'll do it, and not
measure success in terms of someone
In terms of
Pittsburgh, these guys have it made. With
a little bit of luck, the rest of the
world will follow.
Drumming On The
There are two
types of local band on the scene: those
who will always be a local band, and
those who will launch themselves into the
mainstream. The Affordable Floors are the
latter type of band.
With their second
release, this Pittsburgh-based band has
expanded their style and they have honed
their talents into an impressive edge.
release, The Sounding, left me
speechless. Drumming on the Walls,
however, leaves me stunned. Their talent
and their music can easily go toe to toe
with any band on the scene today.
The music is
energetic and powerful, danceable and
memorable. Where some bands' music will
pass you by, the songs here will burn
themselves into your mind and have you
singing along in no time.
The nine tracks
here are diverse and varied, from the
soft and melodic Berkley Square to
the driving sounds of Wedding Ring.
The songs have a strong constant in the
five-piece band, and they are flavored
with the addition of french horn,
saxophone, trombone and trumpet.
It isn't often
that any band can impress me like The
Affordable Floors have, but I dare anyone
who likes music of this genre to listen
to Drumming on the Walls with an
open mind, and then disagree with me.
Coblin (vocals & synth), Eric
Hertzog (guitars), KZB
(piano), Eric Riebling (bass), and
Kenneth Zenkevich (drums) have
earned more than just the money I pay for
their cassettes, they've earned my
respect as entertainers and as musicians.
Keep up the good work, guys!