Posted on 01 May 2012 by Bowlegs
Split albums are rarely game-changers – by their very nature they come across like a communal hug for all those involved. This is no different; in fact, as far as Woods are concerned, this feels like an excuse to utilise a few tracks that they have been unable to find a home for on the their recent run of excellent releases.
Then there’s Amps for Christs (aka experimentalist Henry Barnes) – whose work here is in no mood for compromise, despite his new housemates. In fact, he is happy to split the record further with an array of instrumentation.
There’s the cyclical sitar and tablas on Roto Koto in C Major – you get the impression he is lost in the music, which, in the right mood, can be quite endearing. But other tracks are way too introverted. I mean, what are we suppose to get from Native Chantz other than a dull headache and an urge to hit the skip button? It’s just noise. Then he goes and plays out Lord Bateman, an olde folk English delight with ‘that noise’ suddenly finding a direction – it’s like he’s got Mike Oldfield dancing to Moonlight shadow in the background.
The Woods tracks are by no means throwaway, just ramshackle and put down with a typical loose, four-track appeal. But melodically they probably won’t be making the band’s live set list at any point.
This is an interesting stop-gap for both parties if nothing else – and if you are ever in the mood for some half-hearted lo-fi acoustics and some noise on the side then this is the record for you.
Posted on 18 February 2011 by Bowlegs
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Hold your wild horses for just one second. Bowlegs sees a theme developing here. It would appear that de rigueur for any oh-so-hip US indie group is to go back to basics. That means scrappy production, simple thrashing guitars, and vocals submerged in so much reverb it sounds like the singer has been thrown down a metallic well.
The collaborative offspring of Kevin Morby (Woods) and Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls), The Babies’ eponymous debut ruthlessly milks this popular formula to uninspiring effect.
Considering the long shadow New York casts over the history of these protagonists, the majority of the album is a predictable run-through of Velvet Underground-influenced insouciance (‘Run Me Over’), played out with lazy chord sequences and saccharine boy/girl vocals (‘Breakin The Law’).
One foot is also based firmly in punk territory as the songs are over in a flash. ‘Meet Me In The City’ chugs along vacantly while ‘Personality’ is the most propulsive track on the album: just over a minute of snotty hedonism which references NYC’s other progenitors of scum culture, the New York Dolls.
It isn’t all a trite re-working of these obligatory hip influences, however. When they put their own stamp on it the Babies have some decent chops up their sleeves. ‘Sunset’ provides a sting in its reckless tail while ‘All Things Come To Pass’ sounds like ‘Summer Holiday’ as sung by pallid junkies.
The problem for the Babies is that their sound is now a textbook form of quirkiness. If they opened their ears they would realise that a hundred other bands are doing exactly the same. Bands that are probably around the corner from them. JP