Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Baxter House-Please Baxter, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

February 1, 2006

baxterhouseBand Name: Baxter House

Album Name: Please Baxter, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Best Element: Rock that rocks.
Genre: Rock
Website: www.myspace.com/baxterhouse

Label Name: n/a

Band E-mail:

Baxter House should’ve subtitled this album “How to Create a Huge Splat on the Musical World”- because that’s exactly what they’ve accomplished with this 6-song, 12-minute EP. They establish their guitar/drums/vocals sound and they don’t back down off it. There aren’t any concessions, there aren’t any genre fusions- this is stripped down rock with a snotty punk attitude. If you like it, you’ll love it, and if you don’t, you’ll be confused.

It’s an extremely galvanizing record in the fact that there’s not a lot to respond to- there’s the female sung vocals, the female screamed vocals, the guitars that borrow from both the herky-jerky fervor of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the sludgy melodicism of an old school punk band, and extremely versatile drums that mutate to fit whatever the guitar is doing. If you’re put off by the girl screaming in “No Food”, then you’re put off- there’s not much other stuff going on that you can focus on.

That narrows our focus right at the songwriting- are these songs good or not? The answer is mostly yes. While the guitar sometimes gets a little bit bland (parts of “Black Skies”), songs like “MKAO” are just incredible on all cylinders. “MKAO” has verse that are very subdued (the drums even do some mellow rimshots), but the chorus just rips wide open, with the vocals and guitars and drums all going full tilt. They use some interesting rhythm patterns in the chorus of “MKAO”, as well as in “Dissociative Personality Disorder.”

They do a really good job of mixing it up, though- the intro to “Black Skies” is just drums and vocals, and “Black Skies” also includes a toy piano, in a cool touch. “Gumdrop Heaven” is only forty-five seconds long- but then again, it’s a Baxter House version of reggae. I think that gets props in itself.

So basically, this EP rocks. The songs are good, the instrumentation is unusual, and the sound is fresh enough to pass an USDA test. They’re not going to change the world, but they’ll certainly make a big splat when they’re dropped right in the middle of your day. You’ll remember Baxter House. Whether you enjoy that memory or not is up to you.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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