The Bbys are a quartet of sloppy looking young men from Milwaukee. Their self-titled album is also a joyfully sloppy affair. This is praise. Y’know how in Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, Robert Redford (Sundance) was a super-cool killing machine with an incredible kill-ratio? No? Well, there’s a scene in the classic western where Redford’s character is given time to consider his target; to line up his shot, and squeeze the trigger. He misses of course. Sundance couldn’t shoot for shit unless he shot from the hip. When he relaxed, followed intuition, and let the lead fly he would fuck shit right up. Well, that’s a nice little analogy for the music of The Bbys.
This self-titled album is loose as hell. It shoots from the hip. These sloppy looking gentlemen, who we assume smell of beer and Dorito dust, have landed an album of genuine character – every track finds its target. No one here is trying to reinvent the wheel. There’s no allusion to high-art, and yet there’s something deeply artful about the ten tracks.
From the outset, everything is distorted. Guitars, vocals, drums, bass. Polish is nothing to be proud of. The boozy urgency of Dylan Shanahan and Clyde Veleke’s guitar work blisters across the face of things. There’s structure here, somewhere. We’re in the paradox of musical looseness – where everyone knows what they’re doing, and tracks are felt through, rather than performed. Yet, this isn’t jam band territory. No such indulgence of ego. This is the raw energy of garage/punk/surf/rock that knows it’s limits, but doesn’t really give a shit for limits.
The energy of this album isn’t simply delivered by strummed riffs and the sense of community. Yes, it’s most likely that The Bbys have had more than one house-party gig, brought to an end with the audience on stage, collapsing into the drum kit. But there’s lyrical weight here too. Populated with heavy puns, and a kind of private language, we’re all invited to take part of the in-jokes.
‘Leather Heather’ may well be a person known to the band. She may well be a totem for something else. Actually, she may be some kind of political perspective. But the track, bringing a gentle respite to the rest of the chaos, sounds almost like a ballad. Careful, the guitar hook is almost delicate. We learn of lipstick, starry nights, and a lady that The Bbys claim to never have met. Throughout the album there are moments of zen-like simplicity where internal and external landscapes are brought together to produce something entirely true to the nature of intent.
‘MEGA MAGA’ is an explicitly political track. The temperature drops, we’re at rock bottom. Lyrically things are a little raw. Instrumentally we strut through the process. Whoops, there’s a guitar lick that sounds like Robbie Krieger dropped something in the Kool Aid. And perhaps there’s an insight to the process. For all the casual rolling, there’s an awareness of traditions that extend beyond the garage. Jazz progressions bleed in. There’s still no shine, but something here reveals an illuminated center.
With their self-titled album The Bbys have offered a clear picture of themselves. Inviting, intelligent, and weighty; they carry themselves lightly, but handle their art with deep regard. It takes unusual control to relax the eye and see what’s really there. Somehow, in this relaxing of grip, The Bbys have gained incredible control of their vision. Unadulterated, bright, and engaging. Great stuff.
HURRY – BUY – THE BBYS MUSIC