Thursday, July 19, 2012
Baroness - Yellow and Green
A double album in 2012? Who the hell has that much money for studio time? Who has an hour and fifteen minutes to devote to listening to one artist? Oh wait, Baroness has put out a double album? Alright, for them I'll make an exception. Baroness is a band that works hard on their music and it's not surprising to me at all that they've pushed themselves to try their hand at the double album gonzo.
2009's Blue Album had a strong Wishbone Ash influence. Yellow And Green does, too, but has a greatly expanded range of influences on the songwriting, musicianship and production. Baroness started life as a heavy band but, like Mastodon, has gone through considerable changes. They've lost some of their original audience but have probably picked up a diverse crew of young musicians, weirdos into prog rock and some indie rock kids. There's a lot to learn from the guitar team of John Baizley (who does most of the singing, as well as playing bass on the album) and Pete Adams. There's definitely some heavy riffing but the majority of their playing is melodic and offers lots of intriguing turns of phrase. Drummer Allen Blickle has a lot of ability but is never show offy or intrusive.
It's hard to pick any one particular song as a stand out on either the Yellow or Green records. Breaking the album into halves is the way to go if you're trying to get into this thing. I listened to the first half a few times and then left it alone to check out the second half. Listening to it that way almost reminded me of getting a mix tape from a friend who's into a lot of stuff that I don't know much about. There are definite Wishbone Ash influenced songs but then others that bear the mark of Eno's work with Robert Fripp or Peter Gabriel (who also used Fripp). The variety of crazy effects on the guitar solos helps keep things from ever sounding too redundant. They must have spent a shitload of time mixing this record.
Overall a very solid and interesting listen. People half my age will probably compare it to Radiohead and Queens Of The Stone Age, but what do they know about obscure 70's rock? Take it from an old man. Try it, you'll like it. A double CD for ten bucks with killer art work is excellent value in today's marketplace.