October: Baio – The Names

So here we are, October, the last 4 months have flown by and much of the music I have been listening to has been from the blog funny enough. This in-turn has resulted in me looking back to an album that filled much of the first half of 2016 for me but I have enjoyed listening to once again. On that note, I was late to the game on this as it came out last year.

I spent much of this past weekend thinking how was the best way to say “Sure he’s in Vampire Weekend, but I didn’t know this until about two months after buying this album and it was best to approach it this way in retrospect. I think I would have been letdown if I wanted an extension of the Vampire Weekend albums that I love so much.”

The fact is that I discovered him through a Coma remix he did and my interest grew from there.

On first impressions it look me a while to get my head around Baio and what he was up to. Electro synths with melodies and at times what I though was over exaggerated 80’s vocals. That in mind I liked it, and soon the vocals that made me unsure became essential to glueing together this album.

‘The Names’ was the track that cracked it for me and strangely watching the video a few weeks after getting into the album was very similar to how I pictured it in my head.

“I was Born In A Marathon’ goes deep into the rave, and I can easily picturing myself losing my shit o this in a festival field. I ‘ve risen my hands to this song on more occasions than I can think in the Car, doing chores at home and and once in the co-op on a Sunday morning with my headphones on. I have read that he used to be a DJ and the 4/4 beats do make a strong appearance throughout this album.

In 9 songs he bounces around a bit on this album. Perhaps it’s the luxury of someone that can do this knowing you can always fall back on your main project.  The versatility of the 9 songs is one of the things I like about this album… It’s got a bit of everything.

Perhaps if I was to talk about the elephant in the room ‘Sister of Pearl’ reflects a Vampire Weekend influence, but hey, it’s not a bad thing. Baio in my opinion is far from hanging his hat on his Vampire Weekend work and has released a fantastic album.

I do hope you enjoy the album as much as me. It’s also worth checking out his EP’s on Spotify.

 

6 comments

  1. misterstory

    I flat out love this. I can’t stop playing it. Its on in my car on repeat and has been since I got it. Its on at home whenever I’m not working (I struggle with anything vocal). My kids love it. I will post a video of Sammy dancing to Sister of Pearl. He loves it so much he moves for every single beat. My boy doesn’t like to waste a beat.

    For the record I don’t think its a work of genius and there are a few things I should dislike about it … but I don’t and its totally irrelevant, I love it.

    I’d never even heard of him. Thanks for the intro Brother Nolan.

  2. whyohwhyohwhy

    Sorry for the late response. My MacBook has been busted and I’ve struggled to get this onto the phone until recently. Added to redecorating it’s all a bit “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” right now. *violins*

    I like it though. It’s pretty much instantly accessible. Bright melodies, good vocals. I honestly didn’t even know this guy had a solo project. There’s some pretty decent bangers in there, and you wouldn’t know it was Vampire Weekend unless you’d been told.

    My only worry is how long the lustre will stay. Its fun, lively and a really enjoyable listen. But maybe not that permanent.

  3. misterstory

    Further update … still love it. I agree with Guy’s point about questionable permanence but I am finding this a very fun listen and I don’t listen to much ‘fun’ stuff so its a welcome change for me ears.

  4. David Allison

    SO sorry for such a late involvement in this – after the flipping month is over goddammit! – but my work has gone a bit nuts (a good thing, but you know…). Anyway, it does mean I’ve spent a fair bit of time with this album.

    I’ll come straight to the point: I think it’s a total dud. I LOVED the Baio summer mix that Nolan posted on this site and listened to it masses. I was really hoping that same eclecticness would be present on the album. And as we all agree on this blog, Vampire Weekend are a really excellent band, a cut above their peers. So yeah, I had high hopes.

    It has so many problems. It doesn’t know what it is, and though genre hopping can be fun, it can also be exhausting (see Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve for a recent example). There seem to be three types of songs on here: 1) The housey track 2) The 80s influenced electro track 3) A rejected Vampire Weekend song. And herein lies the rub. He doesn’t excel at any of them. It reminds me a bit of East India Youth, who’s another plaintive indie boy who’s in love with dance music – and though both EIY records have their issues, not least how uneven they are, they have incredible soaring moments of bliss and joy. There isn’t a second on this record that feels like that.

    So yeah, it’s all very proficient and it all feels very familiar, so it’s not unpleasant to listen to. But after a while, I found myself thinking – is there a stand out moment on any of these tracks? Are any of them really that memorable? Even Sister of Pearl, which I think 6Music played quite a bit, is just a VM album track really, but without the great vocal.

    And this brings me to the other problem. Baio’s voice. A generic indie rasp, drenched in reverb, sometimes with a few Elvisy growls. I think it completely lacks personality. For all Ezra Koenig’s obtuse lyrics, that soulful, clear-as-a-bell imparts so much in it, especially in VM’s more recent work. And he’s done some amazing guest vocals (e.g. Major Lazer) that really show off his versitality. Alas, Chris Baio’s vocals suffer in comparison.

    So look, I don’t hate it, but I’m struggling to feel anything about it. It’s just there, doing what it does, in a reasonably OK fashion. Surely we want music to do more than that?

  5. misterstory

    I think most of what David says is accurate …. but for me it passes the binary test ‘do i want to listen to it?’ … Yes. I still love it and glad it is in my life. Insert ‘smiley’.

  6. nolankane706

    Agreed, I’m with David on many of his points. With that I’m with Joey on this that it’s an album that goes against many of my principles yet it has been a highlight for me over the last 6 months.

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