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Photographs 1 - 3 by Nick Coultas.
Photographs 4 - 5 by Miri Matsufuji.
Photographs 6 - 7 by Adam Neal Gochnauer.
Photographs 8 - 10 by Laura O'Connor.

BIOGRAPHY

NO BABIES are a free-punk group from Oakland, California. Since forming in 2008, they've worked tirelessly to develop a unique 'new punk' sound influenced by jazz, art music and hardcore, not unlike Old Skull playing Schoenberg, while Magma heckles from the audience.

In 2011, Upset The Rhythm released their debut self-titled album to rabid acclaim. They have since followed that up with a number of tours and singles released through Isolated Now Waves, Gilgongo and Folktale. Now they're back with their second album proper entitled 'Someone To Watch Over Me'.

RELEASES

'SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME'

The Weight

UTR104 | LP / Digital | 13 tracks, 25 minutes | Buy

'Someone to Watch Over Me' is released on March 2nd, available on 180g blue/red marbled vinyl and digitally. The album follows on from the band's debut LP and its successive fleet of impoding 7"s and EPs. Victoria M. Ruiz (of Downtown Boys) provides backup vocals on 'The Weight' and 'Internalized', whilst 'Hazia' features a quote from Ursula K. Le Guin's 'The Farthest Shore'.

"Oakland, CA's No Babies return with their second LP, another furiously ecstatic exploration of the overlapping margins of punk, hardcore, and no wave. The pieces we've come to expect are all here: Jasmine Watson's invectives against capitalism, binaries, police; Ricky Martyr's inimitable and always surprising stop-start guitar; horns of all stripes breaking through the noise (Misha Poleschuck on tenor sax, clarinet); a nimble and powerful jazz-influenced rhythm section (Laura DeVeber on bass, Sean Nieves on drums). Their particular brand of composed/improvised noise/music has never been chaos at all (they've always known exactly what they're doing), and this time around the band seems more at one than ever, aided by the crispness and brightness of Jack Shirley's able production. These are walls of sound, something like a runaway train, or a writhing sea serpent, and we are along for the ride. This is music that feels necessary. These are songs that sound vital to survival. We must play them or we will explode. We must play them in order to explode.

California in 2018 is a place that feels difficult to survive in. Our friends and neighbours are murdered by the state and its negligence; our homes could crumble or be stolen from us at a moment's notice; capital is bearing down in new and even more unimaginably cruel ways. The land itself is telling us that we shouldn't be here: fire, mudslides, earthquakes. 'Someone to Watch Over Me' is a reminder of the twin powers of sorrow and strength, noise and melody, anger and joy. "Joy / Joy / Joy / Joy / Joy / Joy / Joy / Joy" Watson screams at the end of the album-closing titular song. Joy may be the only way out of this fresh hell - No Babies make joyful noise and for that we should all be grateful." - Grace Ambrose

'YO NO SOY COMO TU'

UTR064 | 7" / Digital | 5 tracks, 11 minutes | Buy

Now the band return with their 'Yo No Soy Como Tu' EP, featuring new members and new instrumentation, but with the same joyous and chaotic intensity that has long been the band's signature. This new five song record for Upset The Rhythm (and Gilgongo in the US) rapidly shifts between catchy melodies and jarring atonality, creating a sound that is simultaneously chaotic and controlled. Happy and angry, beautiful and abrasive.

"X plus X", the record's first track, is a preview of things to come as the song opens in a simple, rhythmic conversation between a discordant guitar and a nervously shrill saxophone. Pounding drums and melodically dissonant bass interrupt to join the dialogue, each taking the rhythm put forth by the guitar and saxophone and warping it into their own unique variation.

Soon after, the vocals kick in and the other instruments become a cohesive platform underneath Jasmine Watson's furious lyrical confrontation with the male saviour complex and the myth of the helplessness of women.

"Conference of the Shark" continues this dizzying tug of war between melody and atonality as we hear the vocals disturbingly croon behind the rapid-fire, agitated rhythms of the sax, bass, guitar and drums. This soon gives way to a harmonically dense and playfully catchy array of parts each changing quickly and building in intensity until the instruments reach a rare moment of unification in the song's powerful conclusion.

While all of 'Yo No Soy Como Tu' demonstrates No Babies' evolution from past efforts, track three, titled "Your Lies", is especially convincing of the band's diverse sound and eclectic influences.

Slow and sludgy, with the guitar taking a more textural background role, the song focalizes the vocals and sax while the bass's gritty low end and the drum's deceptively repetitive beats add a musical weight to Watson's lyrical attack on rape culture and victim blaming. "Your eyes, your mind. The blame's on you. See it through my eyes," Watson shouts as the instruments culminate towards a heavy, rapturous ending.

Side B opens with "One Size Fits All" - a mocking criticism of society's standards surrounding beauty and success. Blisteringly fast guitar, sax and drums introduce a series of melodic variations, each dynamically interspersed within sections that at times incite unexpected frantic urgency and at others grind the song's pace to a near halt. This song is a particularly fine example of No Babies' ability to structure songs in a way that is both interesting and thoughtful while also maintaining a frenetic punk energy.

The final song on the EP, "In the Great West" is in many ways a summation of the band itself. Guitar and drums dance joyfully alongside Watson's musings on animal companionship and the happiness and fear that that can bring. This erodes into a harsh and brutally honest critique of western medicine and its tendency to favor profit over people.

As the lyrics delve deeper into this horror, the rest of the instruments dash between various moods and rhythms until all themes and ideas come crashing down into an explosive barrage of noise before dwindling away into a small, yet defiant ending.

"Yo No Soy Como Tu," says Watson softly as the instruments quietly explore an uneasy nervous tension. "I am not like you," Watson whispers before she and the rest of the instruments scream in defiance of a white supremacist, heterosexist and misogynist society.

Recorded and mastered by Jack Shirley (Comadre) at the Atomic Garden,'Yo No Soy Como Tu' is No Babies' best sounding recording to date. It eschews studio polish in favor of a punk sound but retains a clarity required by the music's sonically dense nature.

The record condenses a love of jazz, hardcore punk and no wave into nervous, thrashy fun that serves as an invitation for you to embrace your anger, sadness, and frustration, and to collide that with your joy into something that gives your life movement and meaning. Limited to just 200 copies in the UK and Europe.

'NO BABIES'

UTR047 | LP | 10 tracks, 20 minutes | Buy

No Babies' 10 song debut LP is entitled 'No Babies'. Recorded by Steve Touchstone (KIT, xbxrx) and mastered by Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers, xbxrx), this record captures the band's frenetic and idiosyncratic compositions perfectly.

From the moment the insistent snares and up-and-down rhythms kick in on the opening track "Tanuki", you are keenly aware of sinking into the topsy-turvy parallel world that No Babies thoughtfully weave through. Their ability to craft tonally and structurally complex songs brimming with cheer pushes them leagues ahead of typical punk rock fare.

In no time, you are caught up in the exuberant cavalcade of "Blurred Or Double-Vision" and the herky-jerky stops, starts and stabs of micro-song "196 Crayons". Every step of the funeral dirge "Morlocks Take Manhattan" is steeped in myrrh, until the song collapses into a dense dementia punctuated with pangs of guitar and soaring saxophone. The Lovecraftian-inspired "Bells" rumbles from disjointed archipelagos of sound into a rolling machinegun vortex of reeds and percussion.

The lyrics, at once abrasive and positive, range from harsh criticism of American imperialism in the Hawaiian Islands to evoking the exhilaration and unease of childhood and the triumphant power of friendship. This record is a portent of a band with an adept sound and endless potential.

LINKS

No Babies bandcamp
No Babies facebook

PRESS

EAST BAY EXPRESS

Feature

20 JAZZ FUNK GREATS

Track mix

TINY MIX TAPES

'Yo No Soy Como Tu' Review

THE QUIETUS

'Yo No Soy Como Tu' Review