July 07, 2006

Baby Calendar "Gingerbread Dog"

When I first glanced at the promo sheet for Baby Calendar’s new album, Gingerbread Dog, I was overjoyed to see Rainer Maria and Mates of State in the “R.I.Y.L.” section. It looks like someone else agrees with me that they sound like pretty much the same band, except Rainer Maria mainly uses guitars, while Mates of State favors keyboards. People sometimes think I’m crazy when I tell them that...

When I first glanced at the promo sheet for Baby Calendar’s new album, Gingerbread Dog, I was disappointed to see Rainer Maria and Mates of State in the “R.I.Y.L.” section. I thought this was supposed to be a Happy Happy Birthday To Me release, and HHBTM releases are supposed to be cute and twee. What gives?!

Well, the Rainer Maria/Mates of State comparison is quite apt. Baby Calendar features much of the same kind of vocal stylings, with a male vocalist and a female vocalist belting out their lyrics in an “emo” (for lack of a better term) manner on top of each other.

So, is this album still worthy of having the letters HHBTM printed on it?

Surprisingly, yes, this album has things that are sorely lacking on Rainer Maria and Mates of State releases, namely cuteness and a sense of humor. The cute dog featured in the album artwork and HHBTM label are not a false advertisement at all.

It’s not a pure twee album, though. It’s more of a hybrid of the Rainer Maria/Mates of State style of emo (let’s face it, the only reason why most people don’t consider Mates of State to be emo is their emphasis on keyboards) and HHBTM twee. Really, it’s an interesting bipolar relationship. Part of the time, they sing about serious reflections on life, and in other parts, they let their humor and cuteness shine through.

There are a few moments of the album where the bipolar nature of the album is really evident. One is in the introduction of “Traffic in the Tropics”. The intro alternates between a semi-ethereal emo guitar line and a bouncy twee guitar line accompanied by handclaps. That perfectly sums up the album right there.

Besides that, there’s the hit song, “The Way of the Samurai”. (Okay, it’s not literally a hit, it’s just what I feel is the best song on the album.) The first part of the song is the singer reminiscing about being picked on and taken advantage of in elementary school just because he was a gentle soul. The second part is about him and a group of friends retreating into the forest to practice martial arts skills and train for the day that they’ll get revenge on those bastards. Nunchuks and windmill kicks, yes! “Way of the Samurai” is so inspiring that it makes me wish that I had the discipline to join them as they practice their ninja moves in the forest. We’d put the drop on them with such precision that they wouldn’t know what hit them! Yeah, Baby Calendar clan ain’t nothing to eff with!

And if you do want a song of pure cuteness, they do have a catchy acoustic ditty, suitable for campfire singalongs, called “Skibbledeebee”. It’s just a light, fun song about staying up all night and rocking (or indiepopping?) until the break of dawn.

Anyway, if you’re like me and wish that Rainer Maria and/or Mates of State wouldn’t take everything so seriously and maybe even be cute and fun every once in a while, you’ll want to join the side of the Baby Calendar clan, too. Maybe they could have renamed this album A Better Version of Rainer Maria...

Artist website: http://www.babycalendarmusic.com
Label website: http://www.hhbtm.com


Eric Wolf said...

So, what I didn't say in the review was that after hearing Baby Calendar, I decided to listen to Rainer Maria. I ended up listening to "Artificial Light" over and over again for one weekend. So, I've actually changed my mind about Rainer Maria.

Really, I've just been getting more emo lately.

Joseph Kyle said...

I'm glad you posted this! I've really dug this record, too. It's really...groovy!