Today I have a featured article from Lovely of Cerulean’s Love of Music. From time to time Lovely will be writing about music for Urban Jacksonville. Her first article is about a local band named Baker Act.
No, They Have Nothing To Do With Baking
But Somehow Beer and Shout Detergent Figure In
When my friend Cher at work (usually referred to as “Cher” by her close friends) let me hear the fabulous demo by a local band called Baker Act, my first question was to ask her if they had a website. They don’t (yet), but they have a Myspace, which means I can hear the songs again and learn more about the band. For instance, I’ve learned that they formed in mid-2005, they’ve had a few line-up changes, and their main influence is beer (ahhh…I knew I felt a deep connection…)
Copies of their demo are available when they play live (or by mail–just message the band for information), but you can hear it on their Myspace. Their type of music isn’t easily labeled–“Ignorance Is Bliss” and “Psycho Chick” are closer to punk rock (with the emphasis on rock) than the other two. This rock is more Sleater Kinney and The Donnas than your average modern rock.
When it’s not rock, though, it leans toward the atmospheric, slow build-up of Siouxsie Sioux or Concrete Blonde. “The Story of Faye” builds gradually, as if the guitar is climbing out of a bank of heavy fog (or the place where it passed out drunk from too much Red Stripe). Like ye olde Bauhaus, (and some Cure songs, too) the guitar/bass intro is deliberately slow and methodical, creating tension until the vocals pick up the dynamic. The song then explodes with all the force and urgency expected from a song about being put in a mental institution.
“Institution Girl” also starts off slow, gothic and introspective, but lyrically and musically, it’s a little less despairing than the other similarly-themed song. It speaks to the subject, instead of from the subject’s perspective; therefore the anger, though still there, isn’t the focus. This is more a love letter to the girl in the institution, rather than a rally cry against the institution.
Baker Act will undoubtedly be better known for their two songs “Psycho Chick” and “Ignorance Is Bliss”. All of the songs are equally good, but these two are more “in your face” and consistently loud, as opposed to the other more subtle, layered tracks. These two are more likely to be remembered by drunk frats the next day.
“Psycho Chick” most definitely has the funniest lyrics (“I’ll be your stain, so shout me out!” and “I’m moody as hell, but I’m not in jail”). I asked the singer and songwriter Danielle where the “shout me out” lyric came from and she said it was inspired by a cleanliness-obsessed former girlfriend who always had shout wipes with her. Heh–must be the ultimate shout-out for the ex, then (pauses for awkward, forced laughter). “Ignorance Is Bliss” is the most straight-up rock song. It definitely has the American Punk feel of 70’s New York and CBGBs, with a bit of early Hole (before the massive bank accounts and rights disputes overshadowed Courtney Love’s music)
Dannie and Mel (the drummer) are the only two original members. Elise came on as bass player after a few misses with other bassists. Finding the guitarist became easier after they found out that Elise’s brother Red played. They waited for his tenure with the military to end, and they had a complete band.
I asked Dannie why “scarf magician” was listed underneath her picture on the band’s page. Sadly she doesn’t do magic tricks with scarves or make origami scarf creatures. She likes to play with scarves on stage and that’s how she got the nickname. I guess it’s better than playing with fire or knives on stage…I mean, I’m sure she’d be good with them, but I’d be a little hesitant to be in that front row if she did. Each member has a personal Myspace account, accessible from Baker Act’s page. I now know that Elise really likes horror movies and The Muppets and that Rudy trained to be a nurse.
Baker Act (fittingly, a term referring to being involuntarily institutionalized) plays regularly in Jacksonville and other cities in Florida. November 17th they’ll be in St. Pete, and on Dec 1st they’re playing The Pit here in Jax. They’ve recently played shows at The French Quarter and Fuel Coffeehouse.