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Our House on the Hill
A second album from this Vivian Girls/Woods collaboration cleans up the sonics a bit, but leaves the Babies sweetly blurred, folk-garage drone sloppiness intact. Kevin Morby, elsewhere the bass player for Woods, carries most of the weight, writing and singing lead on all but a couple of songs, putting slack vulnerability into even the rawest, most ragged riffs (see "Get Lost") and rasping Dylan-folk style on plaintive "Mean." Cassie Ramone plays along on guitar, chips in airy whoa-oh-ohs and brassy counterpoints, additionally taking the mic on two cuts, "Baby" and "See the Country."
Still, the magic in Our House on the Hill comes when these two merge their two particular vibes, shading country-psych with Velvet Underground-ish murk, sweetening plainspoken lo-fi with giddy girl group flourishes. "Moonlight Mile" is the album's standout, a dense propulsive mesh of jangly guitars, rumbling bass, monochrome punk rants (that's Morby) and swirling wordless swoons (that's Ramone). It's the track on the album that feels least sketched, most colored in; and it, along with Ramone's "Baby" and Morby's "Get Lost," give you a sense of what this band might accomplish as a full-fledged endeavor, rather than a side project.
But there's charm even in the most skeletal offerings, the woozy, reticent romance of "On My Team," the disconsolately folkish "Mean," the back-handed ease with which these two musicians finish each other's sentences in "Slow Walking." Sure this House on the Hill could be more soundly constructed, but one suspects that ricketiness is part of the appeal.
DOWNLOAD: "Moonlight Mile," "Baby" -JENNIFER KELLY