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Baby Woodrose | Money For Soul | review | rock | Lollipop
Money For Soul (Bad Afro)
by Brian Varney
Garage psych is a very tricky thing. There are approximately six million bands who've been impressed enough with whatever Pebbles/Nuggets/Boulders/Back from the Grave compilations they've stumbled upon to pick up an instrument, practice for two weeks, and decide to form their very own garage band, a cycle which has produced much of the stuff to see release on labels like Get Hip, Estrus, Empty, etc. etc. I suppose the ratio of crap-to-good stuff is fairly low in any genre, but it seems as if garage music is particularly slanted in the direction of the toilet. For such a seemingly simple, easy to play music, success seems to be particularly elusive.
For those of y'all who, like me, are a fan of this type of music when done well but have stopped buying it because you're tired of wasting money on lame-ass crap like the Makers, Baby Woodrose is here to redeem your hope. The band's first album, the self-released Blows Your Mind!, was actually a one-man studio project rather than a band - just a guy and his Chocolate Watchband records churning out murkily-recorded but catchy (if unabashedly plagiarized) bubblepsych nuggets in his basement studio. Since the release of that elusive-but-worth-the-search gem, Baby Woodrose has become a real three-person band, signed to Bad Afro, and recorded a second album in a real studio.
This sort of shift is the real litmus test of a garage band. Often, the transition to a real studio is the death of a band like this, the newly-clear production making glaringly obvious the band's lack of talent and songwriting chops. The fact that this is not at all the case on Money For Soul should tell you that Baby Woodrose is for real.
Though there's something to be said for the charmingly rudimentary recording and playing on the debut, Money For Soul is the better record in every conceivable way. It's not as if the band's M.O. has drastically changed - you're still in for fuzz pedals, Farfisa organs, and enough flangers to cause vertigo in the those so inclined. They've simply grown as songwriters, something absolutely necessary to the continued survival of a band playing this kind of music.
If you're looking for proof, the place to start is "Carrie." Someone really smart once told me that the true test of a rock band's staying power is how well they do ballads, and "Carrie" is Money for Soul's "one for the ladies" and, lemme tell ya, it drips outta your speakers like marmalade off the band's fingertips, oozing that indefinable frequency that makes the girlies involuntarily shiver. Just so's you don't get the wrong idea about 'em, Baby Woodrose follows this up with the "we ain't no fancy boys" frenetic rockin' of the title track, which recreates the sound of hundreds of lava lamps being thrown at the keg, the resulting goopy mess creating a jagged, flailing pigpile as the frantically pogoing boys slam into each other and fall, beer, blood, and bitchwax being the aftermath of the band's brand of devastation.