by Kat Harding (@iwearaviators)
Brooklyn’s Baked is back with a new album, Farnham, from Exploding in Sound Records. With their full length debut, Debt, now two and a half years behind them and a new line-up, the DIY indie rock collective’s latest album is an awesome variety of heavy-hitting tracks. The new lineup features RJ Gordon (Titus Andronicus) on vocals and Jazzmaster, Isabella Mingione on vocals, Casio, and Hammond, Jeremy Aquilino on bass and vocals, AJ Pantaleo (Bueno) on drums, and Steve Hartlett (Ovlov and Stove) on Jazzmaster. The fuzzy indie band has a louder, heavier full-on rock sound. Featured performers on other tracks bring instruments such as lapsteel, piano, Wurlitzer, organ, and vibraphone to the mix, giving listeners an album that has something for everyone: tracks range from classic outlaw country, R&B, stoner punk rock, and even ballads.
The album title is the last name of RJ’s roommate from SUNY Purchase, where he and Ken Farnham lived together their first two years of school. The two dead mice on the album cover and the monster in the liner notes are both Ken’s work. Ken passed away from brain cancer in 2010; many of the songs were written to help RJ work through the loss, with the effect of creating a wonderful tribute to a dear friend.
The album tears open with “A.A.” which balances it’s understandably downer lyrics “yeah, I’m never going to figure it out/ so why don’t you forget about it” with such energetic mosh-pit ready guitars that you leave the song feeling not quite as bad as expected. RJ on death: we can’t figure it out, we never will be able to, so we might as well put it out of our minds for the moment. Isabella’s vocals climb through distorted guitars and crashing cymbals on “Stay,” singing as though from the end of a tunnel, coming in sweetly in the distance. The contrast between her soft voice and the heavy, angry guitar will you have listening to the track over and over, pledging not to go anywhere. Twangy guitars and hopeful lyrics including “but now I’m fine/ it just took a little time to figure out” ease your mind on “Them.”
“You Know San Francisco, Don’t You?” is one of the heavier tracks on the album, an almost metal tune that bleeds into “I Win,” another dense and guitar-filled track with Isabella singing. Closing out the album is “Tolex,” named after the vinyl covering many musicians use on their amps, a nearly seven-minute long track that slowly winds the whole album down, a thoughtful power-ballad about searching, changing, and being stuck, with the vocals mixed low and quiet.
Despite the heavy material, the album is a fantastic listen: often uplighting, with anthemic refrains and a variety of influence to keep all listeners engaged.