Sunday, 5 June 2011

Shake the Baron

With regards to the current "underground" musical scene, most people will tell you that dubstep is the sound getting them excited - with reason, as it's a style searching hitherto unexplored swathes of music; wild and feral, and yet with definite crossover potential.  Otherwise most music right now sees bands taking up synths, or embracing more folkish sounds; not that I take issue with this, because as previous posts will assert I love those types of music, but where does the electric guitar fit into this brave new world?

Already famous guitar bands are exempt from this - I mean, 'Suck It and See' is a really good album* but  Arctic Monkeys are an established group, so their new efforts are bound to get media attention.  In 2011, however, new guitar bands aren't getting quite the same coverage as they might have done say five years ago, and in the instances that they do they're not quite as good as the hype makes them out to be.  It's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you; with so much (often mediocre) guitar rock/pop in the previous few years, it's quite nice that music is branching out a bit.

But then, I think NYC-based Shake The Baron do a very good job of reminding you just what can be so great about guitar music in the first place; the sweetness of a riff, the brash propulsion of the drums and enticing vocal hooks.  In the context of guitar rock/pop as a whole, it's hardly innovational, but their eponymous debut album is nonetheless a nicely refreshing listen.  That it was mixed by Justin Gerrish, the engineer behind Vampire Weekend's sophomore album, is not necessarily a surprise - 'Shake the Baron' displays much of that same vivacity and easy affinity with a light, airy melody, and the vocals recall the affability of Ezra Koenig, if shining through a slightly dirty window (does this even make sense as an image?  I just don't know anymore).  Or, actually, a bit like a less nasal James Mercer from The Shins.

The point I'm trying to establish here is that Shake The Baron are making some pretty sublime guitar pop/rock songs, and - while the album has its highs and lows - if you want to remember just what it was you loved about this genre in the first place, it might be a good place to start.

MP3: 'Tree House' - Shake the Baron

You can watch a recent series of live sessions by Benjamin Sweet here and their music is out on Super Duper Records, so go and buy some here.

*Discounting 'Brick By Brick', obvs.

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