Baby 81 is an ambitious, powerful, guitar-driven rock'n'roll record that's guaranteed to get people jumping and thinking. Sonically it's a far cry from 2005's rootsy, acoustic Howl, Baby 81 was born only minutes after the final track on Howl was completed, when Peter Hayes (guitars/vocals) and Robert Levon Been (bass/vocals/keys) were rejoined in the studio by drummer Nick Jago after a brief break up earlier that year.The band's journey to Baby 81 started in the mid-'90s, when Hayes met Been in high school outside of San Francisco. After they were later joined by the British Jago, the band named themselves after the gang in the cult film "Wild One" and started playing gigs. For two albums - their 2001 self-titled debut and 2003's Take Them On, On Your Own - BRMC became known for their psychedelic fuzz-rock, a mixture of droning vocals, athletic bass lines, and bluesy guitars. During an August 2004 European festival tour, tensions and excesses tore the three apart, and Jago walked away. When they returned to the States, Been and Hayes turned out Howl - a quieter, raw, soulful collection that stripped the band's raucous grooves down to their essential elements - and after the gang was reunited, they played Reading and Leeds in 2005.When the Howl tours were completed, BRMC made trips to rehearsal studios armed with tapes of jams tentatively titled after the cities they were created in (though the hypnotic, bluesy "Berlin" kept its original title). They tinkered, wrote, scrapped work, and recorded again. And together, these 13 tracks are Baby 81 - songs born into conflict that represent hope for the future, much like the LP's namesake, an infant admitted to the hospital in the wake of 2004's tsunami that was claimed by nine different mothers until it found its way back to its own family.Baby 81 is a driving rock'n'roll record that still maintains Howl's folky core. "I see it kind of as the sister of Howl," Hayes says. Lyrically, the group lasers in on a theme they've explored before: "Personal revolt. It's gotta start somewhere, and if it ain't on a personal level, it's too easy to beat the crap out of governments with words," Hayes explains. "Start with yourself and hopefully you get enough people doing it on their own and we can all come together."Ultimately, Baby 81 captures Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the most crucial time of their career. "I think we all took a leap of faith a little bit more on this album, writing more current songs," Been reveals. "We used to hold on pretty tight to new songs, but it kind of feels like people are finally going to hear where we're at right now - we're much more in the moment."
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