The Baker Family

I’m friends with some of the guys in the Sweet Nuthin, who are completely worth checking out if you haven’t heard them, and thus I try to catch them live on a regular basis. This past Saturday night, they were playing on a bill with the Baker Family at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Having heard tell about the band from friends who had seen them live, I was intrigued to see the group in action. (The bill also included the Dalles, who were also good, but more on them at a later date.)

The set was intriguing. As they set-up, I noticed a banjo and tambourine being brought up onstage. Seeing those instruments being carried by a band with the name “family” in it, I assumed that I was in for some good-time folk music. And in hindsight, I’m not sure if the large, empty beer keg onstage supported that claim or not. Either way, there was a little bit of folk influences in their music, but a whole slew of other stuff as well. There was dance-y Interpol-ish indie rock, heavy percussive sections, and light melodic stuff too. In fact, the group’s latest release, the six-song When the Internet is Down, illustrates that eclecticism perfectly – at times being frustrating in its lack of focus, but ultimately revealing a band capable of heading in many directions.

The Baker Family - 'Channelled Control'

Stu and Liz Baker moved to Austin from Asheville, North Carolina a few years ago, and their sound is reminiscent of the Appalachian hills that surround that placid little community. Songs like “Ten Boom” (surprisingly morbid considered its sound) and “Paper Moon” illustrate that melodic, folkier side perfectly, but still incorporate modern, synth-based flourishes. The two live tracks, “Horse and Whales” and “Clouds of Fire” are much heavier and darker, however. They rock fairly heavily for the most part, and feature more minor and dissonant melodic parts. While good, it’s almost hard to reconcile these as the works of the same band. And yet, closing track “Channelled Control” is where it all comes together. It is more heavily based in the rocking-er sound, but it has the same kind of pretty melody as the folkier tracks, while maintaining the drive and percussion of the other pieces.

The group has a three-song cassette coming out in a short time, and it will be interesting to see where their sound goes. Will it maintain its eclectic nature? Or, will they drift more towards one of their many sounds? It’s fun to watch the evolution of a group, and the Baker Family’s trajectory promises not to be a letdown. In the meantime, head over to bandcamp to grab this EP, and be sure to catch them live so you can witness a bitching keg solo.

– Carter