Broken Baby Celebrates “Late Stage Optimism” At The Moroccan Lounge
LOS ANGELES, CA- To say I was early anticipating Broken Baby’s sophomore album would be an understatement. After they blew my away with their opening act set for Dead Sara at the Teragram Ballroom in 2018, I was hooked. Their live performance was so kinetic that it got the the blood boiling in my viens and had my head bouncing to uncontrollably to their beat. Since that performance, I’ve been catching them live as much as I possibility can, while also religiously spinning all of their new singles.
Their sophomore release, Late Stage Optimism is a killer album. Sophomore slump? Naw, I don’t think so. This album has all the infectoius energy of their live shows, with some really awesome sonic surprises to boot. I was already familiar with a handful of the songs on the album (“Manic Panic”, “Meat Week” and “Madonna’s A Dick” I had caught when they released them as single), but they all hit harder when I was able to spin the vinyl on my record player. Alex Dezen did a masterful job at mixing and producing this collection of of 11 songs.
One of things that I really loved about this album was that I feel like Amber and Alex really honed in on the songwriting, getting really adventurous with harmonies and melody. The vocal harmonies in “He Likes Me”, for example, are pretty damn intricate if you ask me. It really sounds like the duo really spent some seirous time during lockdown to really fill every nook of each song with complimentary sonics. I also love all of the little nuanced touches that the two gave small details in each song. For example, when Amber sings “I hear you sufferin’, but it does not compute” with a robot voice in “Die Die Die”, that little attention to detail really makes it feel like they they left no little stone unturned with the recorded and polished these tracks, while also keeping with that playful attitude that makes them awesome humans.
A song that caught me off guard, is perhaps my favorite song on the album. In a decidedly mellower approach to their music, “Hand Heat”, the last cut of the album, is a track that I can’t stand stop listening to. Yeah, it still cresendoes in the chorus and rips some heavy riffs, and the lyrics are infused with some self deprecating humor (“I’ve got my jellies, slipping off my sweaty fee, and now Ihave to pee”), but it’s about as tender a rock song with the word “pee” in it that I’ve heard in the longest while. The hook is catchy… pop even… and I just cant stop listening to it.
The band was kind enough to let me hang out with them during soundcheck, giving me the chance to practice taking some “behind the scenes” shots. Alex and Amber we being their typical cool selves, and I got a chance to hang with Garret Henritz (drums) and Max (bass). Another photographer, Marcos Manrique, dropped in to take some portraits for another publication, and I just kind of took pictures of him taking pictures of them. LOL. I was just trying to stay out of the way.
What I gleaned during the photoshoot was that everybody was pretty much down for whatever, goofing around with each other and playfully ribbing each other about little things. It’s always refreshing to see a band get along like that.
After their photoshoot, Amber spent some time setting up the merch table and we shot the shit a bit about the music on the new album and how they much they were looking forward to the evening. She teased me proclaiming that she was going to wear a crazy outfit for the show, and piqued my curiousity. I made my way to the green room where Max and Alex were talking about their travels and comparing music scenes from different countries… and also learning that the steering wheel of a plane doesn’t actually steer a plane.
The opening act for the evening was Young Winona. Young Winona is label mates with Broken Baby being signed to Poor Man Records and is fronted by Cassie Gaffaney on guitar and vocals, Nick Gaffaney on drums, and Geoff Maddock on bass. The band relocated to Los Angeles from New Zealand to pursue their music endeavors.
This was my first time catching Young Winona perform live. In fact, this was my first time actually hearing their music. I still need to get more familiar with their repertoire, but I was digging their alt/grunge sound. Cassie’s alto voice was strong and direct, and when she sang it really gave the songs a strong foundation to work from. It gave the music a really forceful edge which I found quite effective.
I don’t know how many different ways I can say the same thing. I’ve said it HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE. I’ll say it again. Broken Baby is awesome live, and if you see them in concert, you’ll want to experience it again and again and again and again, like me.
Wearing a Mr. Body-like swimsuit, and a feathered boa, Amber’s outfit for the show was, indeed, crazy. The craziness of her outfit matched the craziness of the performance. The energy dial was turned up to 11 as the band ripped through their 11 song setlist, covering all of the songs off the album except for “Jack White Money”, and throwing in the fan favorite “It’s My Show” in its stead.
As the band zoned in to make sure the album’s sonics where presented faithfully, Amber let loose on… and off… the stage. She was locked into the audience, engaging friends to go crazy with her, even rolling around on the floor with one female fan as she sang away.
The wild stage antics notwithstanding, a live show means nothing unless the music is good… and Broken Baby’s music is as good as it gets. And with a solid new album, I’m more convinced that Broken Baby is just going to get better and better. Don’t sleep on this band.
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