steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Billy Baru

"Nice Tea" CDR

Agriculture Records

Genres: indie rock, lo-fi, indie pop

e-mail the band

Dec 9 - 15 2002

(Note: This album only worked properly on some cd players; on others it was plagued with a bizarre "sound waivering" thing that gradually got worse as the album progressed. On the cd players on which it worked, the last few songs were affected with skips and errors.)

Nice Tea is the first album by lo-fi indie band Billy Baru, who obviously know what they're doing. Released on the newly-formed Agriculture Records (of Dayton, Ohio), this is an extraordinarily promising debut.

With lo-fi recording equipment and a catchy rock sound, the songs on this album are fantastic. "Zero to Hero," for example, is a punk-influenced rock song with a dangerously hummable chorus. "The Fireball Pt 1 & 2," meanwhile, is more pop-based, with strong, complicated melodies that are as infectious as heck. "June 17" brings things down a notch, succeeding as a calmer, emotional pop song that boasts some real heart-warming hooks. "I Found The Floor," meanwhile, has a strong resemblance to Mercury Rev's "Nite And Fog" (listen to one after the other, you'll know what I mean - the similarities are uncanny).

"A Missed Opportunity" is another gem, made successful by the use of an eerily dark atmosphere that's definitely got some Nirvana-esque grunge influences.  "The Fire Burned Out" then warms things up with a joyous, almost carefree feeling that acts as a vehicle for a fresh, wonderful chorus.

As far as history has dictated, lo-fi music has succeeded best under the pop banner (Pavement, Guided By Voices, The Microphones). And while Billy Baru have a considerable amount of accessible pop stylings in their repetoire, they still come across as being primarily a rock band. Hopefully this won't hinder the way people look at them as a lo-fi outfit, however, as they're bloody good.

The end-of-the year top 20 list is coming soon, and Billy Baru shouldn't be surprised if they find themselves on it; Nice Tea is an exceedingly successful lo-fi experiment.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 12 tracks; distributed by the label; released 2002]