Baxter House – Please Baxter, Don’t Hurt Them (CD)

The rough sound placed out by Baxter House is not really linked to any other specific genre of music; its raucous sound reminds one of Apocalipstick, especially when one considers the very atonal and loud singing of Rachel’s vocals. A track like “Fat Gross Cowboy” has guitars that are linked to the middle nineties, back to a time when bands like L7 were popular. The fuzz on the track is pretty heavy, and it acts as a smoke screen hiding the somewhat simplistic arrangements that dominate this track.

In a sense, “Fat Gross Cowboy” could conceivably make it onto current rock radio, as there are distinct hints of bands like 10 Years and Disturbed hiding through this somewhat-retro style. What really seems to be an impediment to the band achieving even greater success is the rough style in which “Please Baxter, Don’t Hurt Them” was recorded. It is not as if it is necessarily poor, but there seems to be a little too much of a hollow echo present on the track. Baxter House seems to simultaneously play the roles of weary bar-veteran band and idealistic act that is ready for the radio; the tracks on “Please Baxter, Don’t Hurt Them” deal with this tension to create something that while not necessarily innovative, is fun throughout. Another dichotomous relationship happens during “Dissociative Personality Disorder”, where a Donnas-like pop-punk sound mixes with a more stoner, grungy type of sound. The atmospheres present on both styles of music morph together to create a very poppy but brooding type of track, almost as if Alice in Chains and Faith No More had a child.

The entire disc is twelve minutes on the dot, so even at six tracks individuals do not really feel as if they have a full understanding of Baxter House’s sound. The jury is still out; the band plays some fun and catchy tunes, but the group dynamic is still a little shaky and the production values are a little low at this point . There are hints of a number of bands here, but the one thing that Baxter House cannot be fault is that they are not creators of their own sound (and holders of their own musical destiny). For a band that was created this year, Baxter House has their shit down in a nice way; here’s to hoping the next album comes out a little stronger while ignoring some of the weaknesses of “Please Baxter, Don’t Hurt Them”.

Top Track: Fat Gross Cowboy

Rating: 5.4/10

Baxter House – Please Baxter, Don’t Hurt Them / 2005 Self / 6 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/baxterhouse / Reviewed 17 December 2005

[JMcQ]

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