The Babies | Our House on the Hill (Woodsist)

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cd babiesThe album might not be anything particularly new or overly creative, but it is a really solid example of what indie rock is and should be.

There was a time in indie music that it seemed like super groups were made for the future, and it made a lot of people sick. While I agree that the idea of two or more musicians, from two or more of your most favored bands, joining forces sounds like it could be an incredible expansion of the two sounds, it often is not. So while bands like Dum Dum Girls have failed for me in the past, The Babies have not. It is most likely just personal preference, but The Babies have something more than other similar super groups. Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls) and Kevin Morby (Woods) didn't start this band to be popular. In fact, the idea was to have a band to share ideas, play house shows, and basically just take a break from the pressures of being in a "real" band. The thing is, they were too good.

The 2011 debut album, self-titled, caught a lot of people's attention, including my own. So, while we have been experiencing a stagnation of music, I expected the second full-length from the group to be rather similar; however, with a good deal of attention, you can see some major growth.

Our House on the Hill is not necessarily a step in any new direction, but rather is a better definition of what the band has become. After a full-fledged tour, including a stint overseas, the group decided to record their latest full length away from their Brooklyn homes—in Los Angeles, to be exact—and it shows. The California influence is there, but with the same angsty sort of Brooklyn attitude you would expect.

The album opens with "Alligator," a simple track with a guitar-only intro, slowed to add percussion, and then sped back up, like waves coming in on the shore and then retracting back slowly, only to crash back on shore again. "Life is lonely, and it's a drag, but I don't care," says it all, though. Maybe we have been moving forward, but we still have our roots; we still don't care, it's not cool to care, and we don't. Welcome back to Brooklyn. The highlight of the opener is really the ending guitar solo, though. It is solid, simple, and just plain toe tapping.

That is sort of the feel throughout, just good, old fashioned rock-and-roll basics with a lyrically depressed overlay. The formula works, but is composed in such a way that you don't want to stop, because it doesn't sound forced in any way. Take "Mean," the fifth track on the album. The song breaks the mold, acoustic and vocals only, but somehow it fits right into the album. It doesn't seem out of place in any way, even when you pick back up with the following track, "On My Team."

Our House on the Hill does seem to have a clear single, though, in "Moonlight Mile." The most pop-driven song, organ and all, stands out as the stereotypical anthem of an album like this—but I don't want to insult it in any way. I don't mean that it isn't welcomed, but it does stand out from the rest. It is radio friendly, it is easy on the ears, so I assume college radio will make it a regular, as they probably should. The only problem is that, for me, the strongest track on the record is "Wandering." It closes the album with reverb, stings, acoustics, and haunting vocals. "Now that I'm wandering out on my own, it takes more than a family to call this place my home" are the last words sung on the album, and it sends it off in the most perfect of ways. As a listener, I am almost sad that it is over as I feel like, through these songs, I formed a sort of connection to the band.

Our House on the Hill might not be anything particularly new or overly creative, but it is a really solid example of what indie rock is and should be. It should have some variations, it should be easy and fun to listen to, and it should have the same creative aspects that set it apart from the regular Top 40 tracks we have all come to expect in the 21st century. I say pick this record up; you won't be disappointed, and if nothing else, it makes for a great record to drive to. A | Alex Hodschayan

RIYL: Wavves, Best Coast, Vivian Girls, Woods

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