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baktun baby

Album review: Spirit Is The Spirit - Baktun Baby (EP)

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
It is practically inarguable to say that Sunflowers by Yellow Walrus sounds like the lost album from Death Cab for Cutie. What is a Yellow Walrus and why am I talking about it?
Two lives ago Spirit is the Spirit was known as the Yellow Walrus (Seafarer one life ago), of whom I had only seen once at the Mainstreet Café. Singer Austen Malone was clad in plaid, standing in replica Woody shoes from Toy Story—yes, even with “Andy” writing on the bottom. Malone’s thick-rimmed glasses draped the bridge of his nose, and the dead-ringer voice of Benjamin Gibbard echoed from his diaphragm at that show.
“Alright, alright, get on with it,” you’re saying. I will.
Spirit is the Spirit—a cog in The Record Machine—added Baktun Baby to their growing discography at the end of March. Baktun marks the sophomore release from the band—the first being the five-track Mother Mountain. And in my ears, as I’m sure it will be in yours, Baktun carries a much different vibe than Mother Mountain.
Plucking in with psych-rock tuned guitars, Spirit kicks off the record with spacy, indie riffs. Crisp, clean drums come in, throwing in the flavor of the four-song EP. A different flavor, mind you, than the first album, which had a more folk rhythm to it. You will not find that familiar sound here. The airy and cosmic dream sequence of home-opener “Only After Dark” will surely ignite your interest.
Don’t be startled, but your dream just took a wildly different turn. “45 Days” comes in fast and bouncy. A twisty and turny and unstable in terms of tempo is everything that “45 Days” is. Composed of synth racket, almost guitar solos, and an eerie effect of Malone’s prominent voice hits you hard and keeps you utterly involved through the whole song.
“I Believe That We Will Win”—a jam anthem. Again, embodying that same synth racket. This third track keeps your interest for a different reason. Sound bytes from public speeches blurt in and out of the first two-and-a-half minutes of the song. Soon enough, ambient, quiet vocals chime in.
“I feel like that train is getting closer,” says one band mate to his band mates. He is answered with a “Shhhh,” before the acoustic strumming starts in, marking the beginning of track four: “Lonely.” The brilliance of the band’s ability to harmonize shines on this track. Bringing a multitude of male voices to the sad lyrics boosts the somberness of the song. A sad way to end the dream sequence of an album.
There is no doubt that Spirit is the Spirit has the talent and ability to create dynamic pieces of work. Intricate instrumentation and the ebb and flow of the tempo ease the songs to an elite class of indie-rock. As I listen to Baktun Baby on repeat, I pick up something new in each song along the way.
Editor's note: Baktun Baby was recorded and produced by Danny Bowersox at Spirit House Recordings in Lawrence and mastered by Joel Nanos at Element Recording. It was released in March with The Record Machine.


Your last chance to see Spirit Is The Spirit is this Saturday, July 27 at Czar. The group is part of The Record Machine Summer Showcase with special guests Palace and Volcano. Facebook event page
--Steven Ervay 

Steven Ervay is super rad. 

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