Analogs: The Babies – Our House On The Hill

In Analogs, we’ll be taking a look at two records that share some interesting parallels to an album out that week. Whether it be an album from 50 years back that bears some quiet influence, or an under-appreciated record from last week, if you like the record in question, you’re sure to like its Analogs.

This week we’re looking at analogs to The Babies’ Our House On the Hill. Be sure to check out our review later this week.


The Pastels – Sittin’ Pretty

It’s safe to say that, if not all, then at least quite a bit of the guitar-driven indie pop that’s around these days can trace its lineage back to The Pastels in some way – along their American counterparts, Beat Happening, and British forebears Television Personalities, they would come to define the shambling pop and lackadaisical anti-punk attitude that transformed the roots of jangle pop into the twee pop of the 90s. Perhaps cursed by the nearly militant imperfection that was so crucial to their music, the Pastels lack the name recognition today of their contemporaries and aren’t talked about with the implied reverence that bands of considerable influence so often are.  But rest assured that even if your favorite modest popsters don’t directly cite the Pastels as an influence, there’s good money that their favorite band’s favorite band did. And thus the band’s legacy lives on, distilled throughout the world of indie pop in iterations that are as varied as they are unrecognizable; you’d be hard pressed these to find a young band hearkening directly – an important distinction – back to the original Pastels sound of a record like Sittin’ Pretty.

In the landscape of 2012, perhaps no band that I’ve heard from comes as close to as the Babies do on Our House On The Hill, which is a little funny because they don’t quite sound like traditional Pastels devotees. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kevin Morby (Woods) and Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls) haven’t had a single thought towards the group between them, but their musical collaboration strikes the same chord: raucous, punk-only-in-spirit-but-not-in-attitude pop tunes played by people who sound happily unconcerned with hitting all the right notes. Morby’s vocal style, though not immediately similar to Stephen Pastel’s croon, serves the same confrontational purpose, and Ramone’s sweet, clear female vocals provide the same fulfilling counterpoint as Aggi Wright’s. Sittin’ Pretty isn’t a straight shot for Our House On The Hill – the former’s most essential and massive tune, “Nothing To Be Done”, is too jangly and sweet to be compared to The Babies (short, perhaps, of last year’s “Run Me Over”), and the Leonard Cohen-nodding centerpiece of the latter, “Mean”, is a far-cry from anything the Pastels were doing in’89 – but tracks like “Sit On It Mother” and “Anne Boleyn” more than suggest the two records’ shared interests.

Ryan Stanley


Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Para Vista Social Club

Even from the Babies self-titled debut their lyrics hinted at the beauty of the mundane–little celebrations of the deliverances and dejections of common life, and that spirit has found an apt descendent co-conspirator in the ramshackle constructions of the Australia birthed Scott and Charlene’s Wedding. Their debut record, Para Vista Social Club skews decidedly toward an sly self-loathing that the Babies often avoid, but its celebration of the downtrodden artists lifestyle on tracks like “Rejected” and “Footscray Station” seems quite in line with The Babies similar celebrations in “Meet Me In The City.” I suppose Craig Dermody’s notable departure from the Babies sound lies in the inherent scuzziness of his work; there’s something so endearingly lackluster about his attempts at vocal melodies. It extends beyond the Babies early lo-fi-ness or the nasally timbre of Cassie Ramone’s vocals into a realm inhabited by only Calvin Johnson-esque figures. It’s construction is rough around the edges to say the least, but in the great jangle pop tradition it’s all more lovable for it.

–Colin Joyce

Check out our previous installments of Analogs:
Crystal Castles – (III)
Andy Stott – Luxury Problems
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber
Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
The XX – Coexist
Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t
Swans – The Seer
Ariel Pink – Mature Themes