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Sometimes an Ear Is Just an Ear: Baylies Band releases Freudian Ears

Baylies Band – Freudian Ears

Baylies Band is back with Freudian Ears, a new LP released late last year. A long-running local favorite, the group is a unique combination of zany spoken word, art rock, psychedelic noodling and guitar noise. The maestro is Eric Baylies on vocals and keys, a man whose flair for experimentation and thirst for truth knows no bounds. 

The group first came to my attention at the Fourth of July fest last year at Dusk, where toward the end of a rollicking set, Baylies dragged a huge A-frame ladder onto the floor, set it up, and finished the show atop it. Total rock ‘n’ roll.

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Now entering their “26th year of international underexposure” (Baylies’ words), Baylies Band’s material sounds as urgent as ever and reveals truths about … well, something or other. This iteration of the group includes members of Joy Boys, Tapestries, Throne Of Saturn and Bad Motherfucker.

Reached through the magic of email, Baylies described the themes of the album: “Mental illness and self medicating to overcome crippling depression in no uncertain terms in unsettling times,” he said. “I try as best as one could, considering limitations of reality and whatnot, to colorize a black and white, paranoid, drug-induced fever dream.”

“You’re Fresh” has the new wave tones of The Cars and includes the memorable line, “You got your boyfriend at Savers,” and “Out of the Can” is a minute-and-half of electro punk along the lines of Devo. 

The eight-minute “Schizophrenic Valentine” is an indulgent, sprawling epic with spaced-out guitars and a driving groove. According to Baylies, this track is a “kind of musical bridge constructed of gold between our older Sonic Youth or Captain Beefheart influences to a more almost dance music like Sun Ra produced by Giorgio Moroder.” The guitar jamming borders on overkill, but you can’t knock it for lack of ambition. 

So how does this all come together? “Sometimes I work with something from an improv and take it from there, and sometimes I present songs in their entirety and then the band really brings them back to life like Pinocchio on Easter,” said Baylies. “Some songs tell stories with a linear secret language, others are seemingly nonsense phrases pulled together from different memories and parts of my heart.”

“Fashion Mullet” is an experimental rock tune that includes a history lesson of sorts, back to the days when Baylies did have a mullet, and started legendary enterprises Eric Baylies Academy Of Dance and the Handsome Boy modeling school. 

The closing track, “Rainbows,” features The Legendary Rich Gilbert on what I can only assume is the ripping guitar solo. The famed once-local guitarist who has played with Frank Black and Human Sexual Response, among other notable acts, agreed to play on the track after simply being asked, a fact Baylies calls “mindblowing.”

“Maybe you’ll be in Baylies Band next year, or maybe the judge will just grant you parole,” he added.

To hear Freudian Ears, visit: bayliesband.bandcamp.com/album/freudian-ears

Older Brother — Older Brother

The promise of a debut album is always exciting, and this is a promising release indeed from Providence trio Older Brother. Before the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle takes its hold and throws everything into a pit of despair, let’s enjoy a very focused, high-quality album that was a pleasure to listen to. 

The album has a subdued lo-fi rock vibe like a Pavement for modern times. Older Brother has a minimalist, organic feel, with some three-note guitar leads and simple drums that give it the vibe of a spontaneous bedroom jam session. The opener, “Regain My Footing,” is probably the album’s single, and “Gulp It Down” sounds like vintage Built to Spill. “Loney”’s guitar harmonics and vocal harmonies make for a wistful, sensitive quality that doesn’t seem cheesy.

“Moving Forward” was the highlight, and the emotional resonance of “the highway always groans” line is the best thing I’ve heard in a while. Everything from the build-up, the comedown, the hi-hat flourishes and the noise of the outro make it all-around just a killer tune.

Older Brother is available at: https://myolderbrother.bandcamp.com/album/older-brother-2

Dylan Lucas — “Eye Took a Trip”

A shoutout to Dylan Harley for his new song “Eye Took a Trip,” in which he reimagines a psychotic break he suffered in 2012. It takes a somewhat standard folk progression and adds a kind of funky, stuttering groove on top. A kind of train track under everything and some pop-culture samples round out an intriguing song worthy of multiple listens.

Listen to “Eye Took a Trip:” open.spotify.com/track/3hCGAcMRon1t3UJ3aB5bxY?si=Vopu7sD-TrmJL4iCYOTBGQ 

Long Live Rock

Though it happened a month ago, approximately 50 years in today’s news cycle, I’d like to mark the passing of Neil Peart. I’ve only ever been a casual Rush listener, but as a kid in drum lessons, it was kind of mind-blowing to learn that this guy had been playing those insane fills the exact same way since the ’70s. I’m too lazy to grab the actual article, but The New York Times described his drumming as something like “very flamboyant, and ultra precise at the same time,” which is a pretty great description. RIP Neil.

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