Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Baxter Special - new LP from Thank You Mr. Keating

Released in July of 2010, The Baxter Special [Ø Records] is a full length by Thank You Mr. Keating, the alter ego of New Milford, CT native Travus Palmer. A visit to The Baxter Special website brings you into a world of Guided By Voices collage and Shock Cinema schlock. Using a late 70's TV show called Gemini Man as a take off point (or more specifically, the record is a retelling of the incoherent movie version Riding with Death), the record is basically a story about a heroic race car driver. (I suppose since Gemini Man was based on the H. G. Wells science fiction novella, The Invisible Man, The Baxter Special is yet another chunk in our cultural backwash). The LP comes close to being on par with a Circus Devils concept album. Serious or not, the lyrics are strong and clever, there's nothing annoying or inane about them. Tough to believe Palmer did this based on a movie once spoofed by MST3K. Or maybe this is perfectly believable to anyone born to love bad movies.

Almost every single tune on this record makes me think of a cross between Tynan Cooney's songwriting from Werewolf Police and post-Nirvana Dave Grohl. Another local band, Dead Wives, comes to mind, but The Baxter Special is more refined, even for what is essentially a lo-fi power pop record. The guitars have the same beefy buzz of the Rentals, but the Moog hooks get replaced by straight up muscle. With very few exceptions, all songs are stripped down, no intro, get-in-and-get-out efficient. Only one song sneaks over the three-minute mark. Vocals are buried, but there are some hazy harmonies in there that shine through. The momentum mimics the pace of a seventy-something Dodge Charger burning rubber around ever turn. The title track is oddly buried halfway through the b-side, and even more odd, turns out to be more of a lullaby than anything like the crank-able beasts on the rest of the record. Songs like Elusive 1 and The Understudy get a little lighter, too, switching off the fuzz, but still they keep the energy high. The acoustic-based Warning is a highlight of how mindful Palmer is about what he's doing. It builds and builds with staccato urgency into a song that feels like Sebadoh when at their most heartfelt.

Buy your copy now: CLICK

Takes off at around the 0:30 mark:

1 comment:

Ovlov said...

Best album of 2010