Artist: No Babies
Title: Yo No Soy Como Tú
Label: Upset The Rhythm
Catalogue Number: UTR064
Genre: No Wave / Free Punk
Formats: 7” EP / DIGITAL
Running Time: 11 mins 11 seconds
Release Date: May 5th
01. X Plus X
02. Conference Of The Shark
03. Your Lies
04. One Size Fits All
05. In The Great West
No Babies are a free-punk five piece 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 the band return with their "Yo No Soy Como Tú" 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 vocalist, 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 Tú" 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 Tú" 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 Tú" 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.
- no babies