Baby Brother – Strange Things
(Four Jerks in a Basement, 2011)
Let me let you in on a little secret, if an album is released in 2011 and it has black-and-white cover, it is a good album. I’m sure I’ll find an exception to prove the rule, but Strange Things is not it.
Review Shine is a new site where bands can submit their music to bloggers for review. ILSUDH2 signed up a a couple months ago and gave up trying to listen to everything about 6 weeks ago. An average week sees at least 10 releases submitted, mostly from the country/folk side of things and I just can’t parse through them all. Hopefully one of these days I’ll have the time to preview more of this material, but for now it’s off my radar. So it’s a good thing I pulled Baby Brother out of the pile before pushing that pile aside!
I can’t remember if it was the black-and-white cover that caught my attention, I really don’t even know if the b&w realization had occurred yet, but whatever it was that drove me to hit play on Texas only intensified track-by-track through Rodeo Song. I meant to recommend this album before I left on vacation, but just didn’t get around to it and now that I’m back, I seem to have lost most of the information I gathered on these guys…so I’m going to wing it here with the risk of giving out false information.
Baby Brother consist of Jeremy Beazlie on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Vincent Vitek on lead guitar, Ben Longwell on bass and Ian Hardie on drums. Backup vocals are provided by everyone. Kazoos are a group effort. Aside from their names, the fact that they come from around the country and sing songs about Texas while living in Brooklyn, I don’t know anything else about Baby Brother…except that their name makes me think of reincarnation of BLACKstreet instead of a gritty, garage rock ‘n rock band with cowpunk leanings. I really don’t want to get into the ‘genre/influence name-game’ here though, so I’ll let the boys describe themselves:
A tight blend of country, punk, blues, and good old fashioned rock & roll defines a very up beat and unique sound.
songs about ghosts who live on farms and rob trains, kazoos played with a straight face, songs about love and life and relationships and stuff…lots of stuff…a rock band, plain and simple…generally play loud, sometimes play fast, and almost always play drunk
The album opens with a crunchy, lo-fi riff before Beazlie’s voice comes through front and center ‘everybody shout we’re in Brooklyn‘, like Sid Vicious in shit-kickers, ‘if I die, lay me down in Texas!‘. But from that point forward the band ride a bass line train through 30 minutes of good ol’ rock ‘n roll that sounds like it was recorded in their parents basement (and I mean that in a good way). I have to guess these guys are young. Abuse isn’t the chemical type, it’s the about a girl that doesn’t love back. Go For It is a ‘be all you can be’ pep rally with a student body armed with kazoos. Til the Phone Died tells a story about falling asleep on the phone with an ex-lover, and even though the protaganist is supposed to be 22, I don’t think I’ve used the phone is this manner since I was 14. We don’t learn anything new on Strange Things and we don’t even get back to the cowpunk beginnings until the album closes with Gaye Delorme’s Rodeo Song, but instead of coming across as immature or childish (as it easily could have), this album should appeal to the kids that can relate to these songs right now, as well as to the rest of us, those of us who remember the good and the bad…the extreme joy and pain of those strange years that seem so long ago.
Strange Things won’t change your life, but it’s a strong release from a band that has a bright future. I can almost hear Explode on the request line already.