Baboon – Face Down in Turpentine

5 out of 5

Label: Grass

Produced by: Sam McCall, Baboon

Are Baboon famous?  Or, like, indie famous?  If so, why aren’t they mentioned in the same breath as those other various dinky indie favorites, and if not, why not?  In other words: I dont believe whatever you say, and baboon should be at the top of every Best list, every genre.  Possibly an exaggeration.  Still, I can’t understand how the energy on Face Down hasn’t become the comparison point for any given snarky rock / punk / noise disc that came after, or seen as the pinnacle of what came before.  The woild is unjust, I tells ya.

Or maybe fellow loud Texans The Toadies just went home with the rock crown first.  And sure, I’d allow that Baboon’s Andrew Huffstetler has a similar throaty delivery to Toadies’ Vaden Todd Lewis, and they both certainly go for the “pummel the listener” approach and blow up your speakers with big ol’ riffs, but whereas Toadies’ debut sounds very of the time grunge/rock, Babs shift things into a less classifiable realm that jumps between proto-emo and punk and thrash and skronk.  And it never feels like just a kitsch thing, even though you can picture the scraggly horn line on Step Away coming about after finding the instrument discarded in the trash or some such nonsense and immediately implementing it into the song.  Baboon also has a leg-up on lyrical material over many of their peers.  The cast-off jokiness that seems to inform tracks like Master Salvatoris is countered by the relative balladry of a track like Tool, or the commentary and great visuals that are shouted out in closer E.  That most of this occurs via blazing speed drumming and fleet-fingered riffing makes the expansiveness of the song selection impressive, the sound fully serviced by the album’s punchy production, which captures all the nuance amidst the rush while also allowing the band to get fuzzy and loose on a track like KamiKaze.

There’s also the seals-the-deal mark of this being a great album: Even after one listen you’ve sort of “got” the songs down, and by listen two, your toe is already tapping along and the choruses sung along to.  Power of music, man.  But this is power delivered along a unique channel of straight-up anarchic rawk.  Baboon was a bunch of manic geniuses  who deserve your praise.  And to think that this was but the first of several never-lost-the-gift releases…