Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bone Soldiers - Baby Eagle & The Proud Mothers

Bone Soldiers

Baby Eagle & The Proud Mothers
You’ve Changed Records.

SCQ Rating: 68%
In Skeleton Crew Quarterly’s review of Baby Eagle’s 2010 full-length Dog Weather, I identified key factors that simultaneously enamored and repelled my interest as a listener. It was confusing; on one level I continued to listen as if hoping to decode some latent but lasting hooks from the mud, on another level I was marveling at the impossibility of succeeding.

Bone Soldiers, a follow-up credited to Lambke as well as The Proud Mothers (consisting of Marine Dreams’ Ian Kehoe and Grey Kingdom’s Spencer Burton, among others), delivers more blistery rock of the same vein, which again finds me deliberating the merits of Baby Eagle’s musical vision. The critiques remain the same: confrontational, messy arrangements and nasally, conversational vocals dominate the title track. Yet Bone Soldiers’ sequencing presents an increasingly subdued collective, moving from the stripped-back feel of “Old Punks” to the controlled, summer evening pulse of “Hard Truths”, and that intimacy throws Lambke’s unique songwriting into fresh relief. Featuring arrangements decidedly more open-aired than those on Dog Weather, songs like “Rebel Crimes” and “Brave Women” find the group reaching for the same irresistible rhythm – the former resulting in a choral climax, the latter in tightly motivated classic rock licks.

Lambke remains largely disinterested in commercializing his aims, and that’s respectable. Recorded and mixed over three days last October, Bone Soldiers retains Baby Eagle’s livewire impulse of firing out records with the efficiency and energy of a jazz set, frill-free. Whether that approach renders the accessible tracks here as flukes or prophesies, I can’t say, but there’s little denying that Baby Eagle is beginning to worm its way toward my heart – like a hard-fought love or a teasing storm.

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