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Total Babes: Heydays


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It always strikes me as unfair when one group is overshadowed by another just because they share members, and this applies especially to Cleveland quartet Total Babes who it seems have already been sentenced to life as Cloud Nothings’ little brother band due to the fact that Jason Gerycz – frontman for the former – also plays drums in the latter. Moreover, one of the main selling points for their second album Heydays according to the press release (and every subsequent website article repeating the announcement) is that Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi guests on the record, even though the sum total of said “high profile” contribution amounts to him playing saxophone on just one track. That’s not to say there aren’t certain undeniable similarities between the two. Both groups clearly owe a large debt to the fuzzier end of the ’90s alt-rock spectrum, but while their “older siblings” spit bratty punk vitriol Total Babes are decidedly less angsty, employing a looser, melodic power pop sound more in line with Superchunk or Sugar; indeed, Gerycz and Christopher Brown started Total Babes as a vehicle for material too accessible for their other, noisier band Swindlella, and a few tracks here – most notably ebullient closer “Can I Turn You On” – revolve around the kind of hooks that wouldn’t sound out of place over the opening credits of some comedy show about a group of young, apartment sharing New Yorkers. Emeralds man and Spectrum Spools label head John Elliot adds sparkling synth lines and thick, warm drones which envelop these otherwise relatively straightforward rockers in a slightly “off” otherworldly sci-fi gauze, and it’s touches like these – and Baldi’s sax skronk on the tremendous “Circling” (think free jazz-tinged Oi! punk as played by deranged Krautrock loving robots) – that serve as Total Babes’ distinct stamp. A solid and assured offering, and one that proves big brother isn’t this family’s only success story.
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Heydays is out May 19 via Wichita Recordings; listen to “Circling” below.
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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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