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A review of...
Bobby Hundreds by Baker Island
Newcastle band finally release their long awaited debut, a trashy, swaggering introduction.
The first things that hits you about this band is the dense sound that they produce. It's a noisy 1990s infused sound which is built around layers upon layers of guitar and, as much as I love that approach, there are potential pitfalls. You need the tunes and the melodies to back it up, and I can happily report that Baker Island have swerved those pitfalls and served up an exciting debut LP, chock full of neat ideas. Maybe that's because front-man Sean Dodds has slaved over these songs for many years and through numerous lineup changes (this was originally a solo project after-all). But at the same time, if these songs have been gestating for such a long time, they sound awfully fresh on record. Some of the cred for that should go down to the producer (although, judging by their bandcamp page, there were numerous producers and players taking part in the sessions) but it helps that the songs are played with a defiantly loose swagger. The ridiculously titled opener "You Won On Points But We Won On Skill" is all the introduction you need to Baker Island. A low key melodica (I think) intro paves the way for, guitar, swirling keys and a marching rhythm section. It all builds to a rousing cacophony and then disperses itself in a mere 1:40 running time. Its like an overture of sorts, letting you know what you're in for. If brooding, fuzzy guitars are the predominant force on Bobby Hundreds then Cathy Russel's keyboards are the playful side, adding the hooks to tracks like "And Tim Gives You Flowers" and "Spanish Trails", the latter of which sounds like a SNES video game soundtrack. A woozy, trashy, noisy and most importantly, an enjoyable debut.
"Sea Coal As A Metaphor" - Songwriter Dodds feely admits in a recent interview that "it literally has no structure, it’s just chords made up on the go. I could not play that song again unless I wrote all of the chords down and played them as I was looking at the sheet". Shame we'll never hear it live, but you'll just have to make the most of it here.
Listen if... you like shoegaze, minimalist keys, Hope Of The States, Mansun