Baby Brother - Strange Things
2011, Four Jerks In A Basement
Baby Brother comes from all over the map, whether it be stylistically or in terms of personnel. The Brooklyn-based quartet effortlessly blends rock, rhythm and blues and country styles and sounds on their debut album, Strange Things. Led by vocalist and lead guitarist Jeremy Beazlie, Baby Brother gets down and dirty in their pit-jumping, face-melting glory while alternating between the raw, unadorned anger of punk rock and the classy, articulate pop of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Strange Things opens with "Texas", a messy piece of Low-Fi rock n roll reminiscent of The Figgs or a cross between Violent Femmes and George Thorogood. Vocalist Jeremy Beazlie performs with a distinctive conversational style. "Abuse" is a high energy rocker full of crunchy guitar and a killer melody. The result is highly danceable and entertaining. "Go For It" is a predictable post-punk anthem about getting the most out of life. The song is an entertaining listen, but the lyrics are so cliché you might find yourself able to sing along on first listen. "Strange Things", on the other hand, is a catchy rocker with a brilliant chorus. The blend of Low-Fi sound, a distinctive pop sensibility and an almost 1950's pop style should make this song extremely appealing in the licensing world.
"Sad Kid" is a mildly catchy number that may not take with some listeners, but acts as a solid buffer between "Strange Things" and the eclectic early pop style of "Til The Phone Died". The melody here is key, and the song stands out as one of the best pieces of songwriting on Strange Things. "Long List" finds Baby Brother going mainstream in style without kicking the garage sound to the curb. The effort here is a solid one, but doesn't sound as fresh or honest as much of the rest of the album. Baby Brother does show a distinctive ear for melody throughout the album, a fact that is highlighted here. Baby Brother compensates with "Crisis Issis", a raging song for the lovelorn with a relentless, repetitive chorus.
"Lived On A Farm" gets back to the early rock n roll style in a repetitive number that's well constructed but could use more than one thought to drive it. "David" is a solid story song with a mild early rock feel. Beazlie is outstanding on the vocal line; his best performance on the album, and his guitar work stands out here as well, dressed up in a deliciously distorted and crunchy sound. Baby Brother channels a bit of Big Rude Jake on "Ghost Train Robbers", a punkabilly number full of ghostly antagonists and bad luck. The tune is very entertaining, and would be a lot of fun live. Baby Brother closes with a recklessly played cover of "Rodeo Song". It's surprising this song isn't covered more often in the (post)punk genre(s), but Baby Brother makes the most of every word in an over-the-top performance.
Baby Brother manages to be both surly and appealing on Strange Things, strutting with a punk attitude but showing a surprising melodic pop sensibility in spite of their Low-Fi garage rock sound. If Brian Setzer had gravitated more to the punk rock sound he might have sounded quite a bit like Baby Brother. Strange Things is a rough starting point for band likely to do some pretty interesting things in the future.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)