The Babies: Our House On The Hill

I find it quite difficult to look past bad band names, but I do make exceptions (Death Cab For Cutie, Dogs Die in Hot Cars and most bands of the bands to come out of Brooklyn in the last two year) but ‘The Babies’ was just too much. The band’s biog – ‘collaboration between Woods’ guitarist Kevin Morby and Cassie Ramone from Vivian Girls’ didn’t exactly encourage me to give them a listen either. Thankfully, an ill click on Spotify last week proved that I was just having a moment of inexcusable music snobbery.

The Babies’ sophomore album ‘Our House on the Hill’ won’t be the album to create a blissfully new progressive music genre, but what it does is similar to what Real Estate and Ty Segall have mastered on their most recent albums. Nothing new is invented, but classic styles are redefined with the help of Rob Barbato (The Fall, Cass McCombs) on knob twiddling duties  This album is 60s tinged garage pop at it’s finest, hooky and infectious while retaining a few rough edges and even some slight country accents. You can say you’ve heard something similar a thousand times before, but you can’t say it’s all been this good.

Although not lyrically dense, there is a definite nod throughout the album to the social disenchantment that would have inspired the slacker movement in the 1990s. Escape is on the mind. ‘Mess me Around’ was the first little cracker that perked my ears up, all low slung angst and pouty insults at city confinements, set to a jittery, slide guitar backdrop. ‘Get Lost’ followed in a similar spirit, an anxious and beautifully naive plea to a lover to allow the protagonist some slight escapism through their relationship. However the album would have probably benefited if the sickly sweet boy/girl duet ‘Slow Walking’ was left aside as it is the only track on the long player that is unashamedly derivative.

If you are looking for your next life altering album, then this probably won’t be it – unless your past ones have been Real Estate, Family Portrait or Bleached. But even if you just casually like any of those bands listed, then you need to give this album a chance.


Real Estate

Heralded by some as the perfect antidote to the hazy bedroom “Chill-wave” bands who were coming to the fore over the last eighteen months and criticised by others as being too derivative of bands such as Pavement and their contemporaries, Real Estate’s viral success has been a double edged sword to some extent. However the New Jersey four are back with a new slice of their lazy summer day blues. Although I was somewhat underwhelmed at their previous efforts, this new single is winning me over. The finely crafted “Out Of Tune” features beautifully interlaced guitar lines under Martin Courtney’s charming lackadaisical vocals are reminiscent of Grandaddy at their best, proving that the band have much more to offer than may have been first anticipated.

The single is out both digitally and on 7″ on True Panther on the 12th October