Music » Critics' Picks

O.A.R. and the Baldwin Brothers

Friday, Aug. 17; Mississippi Nights

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Unlike the Bacon Brothers, you won't find the Baldwin Brothers spooning up perfunctory bar rock; nor will you find any screen idols in the latter band. Although these Baldwin Brothers aren't named Alec, Stephen and Billy, that doesn't mean they don't pull in a little star power of their own. For their upcoming debut, Cooking With Lasers, they enlisted genius Wilco producer/Pulsars frontman Dave Trumfio and hooked up with an array of guest vocalists, including Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto and wafer-thin Angie Hart, formerly of Frente! (Remember them?) At this year's Winter Music Conference, they brought down the house and made a rabid fan of Boy George.Yet unlike most traditional WMC fare (which tends toward high-octane dance music), the Baldwins (named not for the actors but as a dig at an old high-school teacher) are just a loungey, barely psychedelic funk band that likes to cheat with samples a little bit. It's fairly close in spirit to "Demons," Fatboy Slim's soulful collaboration with Macy Gray, or to the Propellerheads, with their seamless combination of live instruments and turntablism. Their music isn't so neatly structured as that, though. Aside from Angie Hart's poppy and predictable "Deep Down," the tracks on Cooking are looser and should sprout nicely when given some air, especially the dirty "Viva Kneivil," which throws some great guitar into the mix. Unfortunately, moments of Cooking also verge on undisciplined jam-band wandering: The Baldwins, it must be said, sometimes seem compelled to spoil every little idea rotten. Still, you're almost guaranteed to get your groove on and then some; Trumfio makes the synths sparkle like Kim Basinger's teeth, and they have a wider array of rhythms (from martini music to bongwater jams) than Alec has a filmography. And you can bet they won't pull a Pearl Harbor on you.

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