The Tocharians
Gig Seeker Pro

The Tocharians

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Ballsitic Edna"

What do you get when you mix the fanciful fun and sassy seductiveness of No Doubt's Gwen Stefani with an extra helping of smarts and a bit larger world view, akin to a female Michael Stipe or even Natalie Merchant? You get Ballistic Edna, whose Minefield Tapdance I found to be charming, entertaining and worthy of many repeat listens.

I'd liken lead vocalist Fran Giagkou's vocal appeal to a mixture of the sass of Stefani and the more intellectually driven Natalie Merchant. She can definitely impart a sense of fun, but she also manages to add a layer of sophistication that is lacking on many pop albums. She has a nice range, sometimes sultry and husky, sometimes light and sweet, sometimes bursting with emotion.

Some of that added sophistication comes from the eastern influence best heard on "Smolder" and "". It adds an extra level of appeal, as it is seamlessly intertwined with a catchy pop/rock backdrop that enhances its unique charm.

The backing vocals add another layer of charm, in a boyish fashion. James Reilly's vocals are reminiscent of REM's Mike Mills, boyish, slightly off key and quite sweet, adding a bit of innocence, ensuring the band doesn't sound world weary or cynical, which can be a real turn off for repeat listens. The sound is carried into the musical style on tracks like "Vacation In Reality", which has some country rock twangy guitar style. "Breakin' Down" has the same country rock appeal.

Lyrically this album is just another step above standard modern pop/rock fare. The lyrics are well crafted and intelligent without being jaded or speaking down to the listening audience. So many bands get preachy these days, and it's nice to hear intelligence that isn't a slap in the face at the same time. Reilly walks the line perfectly.

This is a solid and creative effort that is going to find a home in my "play" often CD case. If you like dynamic music with strong female lead vocals and an underlying innocence and wonder provided by the backing male vocals, this disc is a must have.

- South Of Mainstream

"Ballistic Edna"

Minefield Tapdance is overflowing with energy, catchy hooks and pop-rock vitality. Powered by the prolific songwriting powerhouse of guitarist James Reilly and the smooth, luscious performance of vocalist Fran Giagkou, the band has wrapped together a tight, notable debut packed with potential indie singles.
Reilly's previous work with Gertrude and The Geezers has considerably solidified the indie-punk roots of his writing, contributing a persistent, sure-fire dynamism to his compositions and setting down a steadfast base of spirit and spontaneity from which the rest of the band can offer up their own stylistic inputs. British ex-pats Paul Topping and Jack Jerozal -- on bass and drums, respectively -- lend rhythmic whirlwinds to the mix, combining a melodic backdrop of britpop influences with a heaping dose of punk edges, folk-inflected jangles and unexpected Middle Eastern infusions. Fran Giagkou, a Greek multilinguist and global traveller, ponies up to the collective table with considerable vocal experience, having previously fronted a number of other Chicago bands. Her strong, elegant voice is occasionally reminiscent of the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan, a fiery lilt seemingly ever-present in her flawless delivery.

Addictively peppy and melodically memorable, any of these songs could endure frequent radio air play by virtue of their sheer listenability alone. "Man of Many Unmentionables" is an irresistible anthem that dares you to keep from singing along, borne on a pounding, toe-tapping, ska-flavored beat, and the pop hook silliness of "Vacation in Reality" is an enchanting, infectious gem. Both "Smolder" and "Charmed and Disarmed" weave haunting Middle Eastern melodic motifs and percussion through sinuous landscapes of muttered bass and Giagkou's velvety vocals. Reilly's clever, poetic lyrics often charm and surprise, offering metaphors of "butter skies" and stringing together images of fire, dawn and aliens. He takes it a bit too far, though, on "Headaches", a peppy elegy to famous suicidal artists, drifting into the dangerous territory of bad taste with lines like "Hemingway chickened out and took the lemming way" and "Kurt Cobain, a song, a song / His kingdom for a song / He lost his head and now he's dead / But we still got his song."

This is an impressive starter set of fetching, well-executed pop-rock morsels, laced with a copious helping of hardened edges and the tenacious fire of Giagkou's voice. If they keep this up, Ballistic Edna should register on the indie-pop radar in no time at all.

-- Daniela Maestro
- Splendid E-zine


"Smoulder" #1 on RadioWave worldwide internet radio network for three weeks in 11/03. "She Will Return" on Dawson's Creek, April 2003. Both are on CD "Minefield Tapdance". Tracks can be heard/purchased on itunes, Radio Netscape, and many other digital download sites, CD Baby, and our website,



"Smoulder" downloaded over 1,000,000 times, "She Will Return", & "Titanic" downloaded over 100,000 times "She Will Return" on Dawson's Creek. "Smoulder #1 on RadioWave worldwide internet radio charts for 3 weeks. "Soulseeker" is the theme song to UK ghost hunting show "Soulseekers". "Alternative Rock Band Of The Year" for 2003 on Dagwood Radio Montreal. Mix of Cranberries, REM, Coldplay, with ethereal Middle Eastern influences.