I don’t know what’s the deal with Louisville. There’s something in the water supply, the atmosphere, the soil, somewhere, that has given us so many classic bands over the years. Slint, Shipping News, My Morning Jacket, Ruckus and many, many more. Many genres are tackled masterfully and probably loads of gallons of alcohol are consumed.
So, when Old Baby announced an album called Love Hangover, radars were fine tuned and directed again to that town put in the map by several bands, Hunter S. Thompson and a film by Cameron Crowe (which I do enjoy.)
When you listen to Love Hangover, you get two initial responses: “loving the seedy vibe of this!” & “this is a slow burning affair, just like the underground fire in Centralia!”
Okay, that second one might be more of a personal judgement, but it rings true that the blues rock that Old Baby create in Love Hangover is nowhere near the fast, jam sessions you get from other blues musicians. No, Old Baby took a few tools from the Book of Blues and mix it with something else. Something creepy, full of drawn-out instrumental passages that seem to mix post rock with blues very well. The result? A creepy atmosphere you could technically stomp your feet to. Just be mindful of not waking an Ancient One.
You don’t have to explore too deep into this wild land called Old Baby to find rich, thick atmospheres and groovy licks. Album opener ‘Into the Earth’ mixes a tribal drumming with a sweet guitar riff that are spaced together well enough, just preparing the mood to let the rest of the instruments fall down like a torrential downpour. ‘Young’ relishes on drones to create a dark, psychedelic ride through someone’s psyche. I do not wish to meet this person but feel like buying him/her a beer.
Every album has a “moment” where it all falls together beautifully and ‘Tired’ feels like one (of two) moments where Old Baby just nail it so great they might as well shout “bull’s eye!” Dark, brooding and atmospheric, both the musical proficiency of the band and the mixing make it a proper journey through Astral Planes. It will get even trippier in ‘Magic Wave’, the mojo heavy track that will follow soon and eerily ends with a few keyboard notes that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
The second “moment” comes in the fantastic album closer ‘Weight of Love’. Worry not, the title is misleading, as this is a mix of psychedelic droning, jamming and even some 70s pop sounds (that vibraphone-like sound.) The drumming is quite deceptive; the easy pace likes to jump around from time to time. “Weight of love” is repeated like a mantra as the song slowly goes quiet, ending in a very stark, ominous note.
The roster Old Baby has probably earns them the moniker of “supergroup”, but let’s forget about that, this feels like a fresh start for all members involved and Love Hangover has them very comfortably settling in a definite sound, one they don’t mind playing with just to fuck with your minds. And that’s the beauty of this album, which has been mixed and mastered to a very pleasing level.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López