Album Review: Fairy Tales – Bafflegab

Joyously, we have received a pre-release copy of Bafflegab’s sophomore album, “Fairy Tales”.  A year in the works, since their debut “Petnames”, this album shows the growth and amazing development in the band.  Recorded at Cleveland’s own Bad Racket Studios, the album emerges at a pivotal moment in the band’s history, as a changing of the guard takes place on the drumkit.

The album starts off a bit slow and meandery, contrary to the usual whimsical and quirky party in your ears that Bafflegab brings to the table.  “Star Catchers” feels like a space pirate dirge, wandering in deep, abyss-like space.  The track lacks much in the way of dynamics, but makes up for it in fullness of sound.  “Mad Had Her” carries on in this vein, with bestial drumming by Eli Schabes, and classical-inspired basslines by Bryan M. Rea.  The vocals from driving musical force Cassius Blair are lovely, and the entire song feels like something you ought to hear during the part of the movie where someone’s done far too many drugs and needs to spend some time on plush carpeting, reminiscing on life and the universe.

“Kings and Queens” really starts to push the groove forward, with dynamic intent.  The song is gritty, with a fantastic spread of levels and a heavy, meaty bass.  The mix throughout the album is amazingly spot on.  By “Clown Trotting” we’re ready to bounce out of our seats.  The vocal effects, clapping, and jazzy vibe, along with the lyrics, all combine to form a fucked up carnival nightmare of a song.  Clowns will fucking eat you.

“Cursed Ain’t The Word” is the sort of earworm you won’t be able to shake for a few days, at least.  Meowing backup vocals by Mary Meler, and a groovy bass give this song a sense of summer.  You’ll want to put the top down and drive around, even if it’s snowing, because you’ll hallucinate sunshine.  “UFOs” contends with “Appleseed” off “Petnames” for the song that brings the most fun.  It showcases the band’s quirky, cynical Ween-like sense of humor.  There’s a super gritty bass groove and snazzy drums that make you need to dance.

From there, the album gets heavier and rawer.  “Saliva Dali” is angry and dynamic, featuring great leads from Chris Griffin.  Everyone’s tightly in the pocket.  But the angst level pales in comparison to the next track, “Pesticide”.  Screaming vocals, fast and intense pacing, rocktopus rhythm and ten-ton bass all combine into no less than MOSH MUTHERFUCKERS.  The album levels out and swings back down to quirky entertainment with its’ final song, “27 Club”, a rundown hoedown of all those musical legends who couldn’t quite make it to 30.  The song is bouncy and wickedly witty, and the vocal delivery keeps us on our toes.

All in all, Bafflegab has delivered a fantastically well-rounded album, with a great flow of tracks.  Frontman Cassius Blair’s musicality and songwriting ability drives a band with a lot of future ahead.  Balanced, leveled, dynamic and fierce, the music is very much like their live shows.  They keep firmly in the gritty, raw, driving spirit of Cleveland.

Find out more, and purchase Petnames and Fairy Tales at http://www.reverbnation.com/bafflegab

by Samantha Baine

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