I had a dream I hung out with Paul Kostabi. Wait, this has nothing to do Strange Babes’ A+ performance for the sparse Satellite crowd on Wednesday night.
That’s the point. It’s a lot like a particle. According to early 20th century physicists, you can’t properly perceive ANYTHING because your own perception will itself disturb what you’re observing.
Bands and press are no different from physicist’s particles.
So, if you’re a member of Strange Babes – STOP READING THIS IMMEDIATELY –
That’s because Strange Babes are doing the damn thing and the thing their doing is damn good. Proof is in their quiet Soundcloud release of “Holiday”.
Careful. This track will fool you. Strange Babes originated in December 2012 as a New Zealand based collaboration between vocalist/guitarist Sam McCarthy and producer Jaden Parks. The project crossed an ocean, relocating to Los Angeles where it cross-pollinated with members of fellow New Zealandified (that’s a word now) projects.
And this butterflies a-bloomin’. SB is heading out on a national tour with Naked+Famous later this month.
An anon source told me Wednesday night that preliminary SB jams explored more traditionally “psych” territory. And that seems believable, since SB’s live set eerily resembled Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Which brings me to physics failures like What The Bleep Do We Know (any academic will call the pseudoscience pseudoscience). That intellectual/CGI catastrophe loved basketball analogies.
So, think of Strange Babes as someone facing North, shooting a three pointer. Then, through a sequence of events they inadvertently toss the ball over their shoulder, south, and…
That’s Strange Babes. Their live set included 10 pop tunes EQUALLY memorable to “Holiday” – a fucking remarkable achievement for any band, especially one still in larvae phase.
The only problem with Strange Babes is that they aren’t strange. And their quest for “psychedelia” might have ripped a proverbial wormhole in our own field’s nomenclature. At least with regards to their live show, there’s none of the microtonal Eastern sensations of poppier BJM, none of the maniacal howling that trails out of “Panic in Babylon”.
And, speaking of NZ strangeness, even The Verlaine’s most regarded song “Death And The Maiden” (1982) explores far more bizarre terrain during its Vaudeville-ian bridge.
Although their set opener “Hermit” danced dangerously close to The Hollies “Jennifer Eccles” (maybe too close, but observing the crowd, no one seemed to mind). And yes, Wikipedia classifies The Hollies as “psych pop”. But, given the proliferation of local bands self-identifying as such (Allah Las, Mystic Braves, Jeffertitti’s Nile – of which SB guitarist/ backup vocalist Wade Ryff is also an auxiliary member), SB bare limited resemblance.
Instead, and Strange Babes, remember the physics analogy — READ: DON’T READ ANY FURTHER — you wind up with a band who, based on my personal conversations, wanted to sonically equivocate with strange, aural expressionists like Black Angels/Brian Jonestown Massacre… but who wound up being exactly what, given their history, you’d expect, i.e. Californized New Zealand indie pop.
But McCarthy’s not fucking around. As a bandleader, he performs effortlessly, a requisite for pop enjoyment. And he’s presenting material that if released in the mid 90s could displace many many many “pop/rock” singles ingrained in the minds of cusp-millennials (i.e. those unfortunately raised on Star 98.7, like me).
You can sing along with SB choruses by the second pass. You can hum them to yourself while walking out of the show. Today, that’s a serious feat.
So kudos, Strange Babes. Maybe you’ve been reading your Hegel and are intuiting the inevitability of negation. Either way, consider your achievement remarkable. You’re the best kind of band. You’re not copping the immediate success of peripheral bands. You’re easy to imitate. Yet you’re impossible to recreate.
Wait — that is kinda strange nowadays.
STRANGE BABES is currently on a U.S. tour to support fellow New Zealanders THE NAKED+FAMOUS:
06/03 | Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theatre
06/04 | Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
06/05 | Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
06/06 | Brooklyn, NY The Striphanger
06/08 | Richmond, VA @ The National
06/10 | Orlando, FL @ The Beacham
06/11 | Miami, FL @ Grand Central
06/13 | Marfa, TX @ El Cosmico