Sad Baxter - So Happy

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2018-07-20
Sad Baxter - So Happy
Sad Baxter - So Happy

A tumultuous relationship lays the groundwork for Sad Baxter - a Nashville duo who at one point were dating, but unlike Jack and Meg, never pretended to be brother and sister for publicity sake. No, all they did was just overcome their disagreements and continue on as a tight tandem. Deezy Violet handles lead vocals and guitar while Alex Mojaverian provides backing vocals and drums. Sad Baxter follow in the long line of throwback bands that are harnessing the 90s for great impact. Their newest EP So Happy continues this tradition as it's littered with Courtney Love-esque melodies, crunchy guitar riffs, and direct lyrics that punctuate a common American theme these days in all forms of art: things suck.

That's not to say that this is just a Hole rip-off, it's far from that. Deezy is her own presence, and doesn't emulate any artist 100%, and in fact takes vocals to a more dangerous place than most similar acts dare tread. She doesn't show resistance to screeching and screaming when the mood strikes her. This leads to mostly positives, but some negatives where a croon might be more appropriate. Whereas many other similar artists like to keep their sound safely in the confines of "does it hurt people's ears?," Sad Baxter don't care, and they thrive because of it.

Sad Baxter definitely calls upon 90s rock but isn't as blatant or shameful as others in the genre. Vocals bring to mind Stephen Malkmus a few times, but it's not the dominant influence. If anything, Deezy writes lyrics more confessional than her peers, unabashedly describing the nastiness she's endured. "Sick-Outt" is the only track that the influences overcome the band, and it's like a Bleach B-side as Deezy invokes Cobain all over the place. the track stands out, but not in too much of a positive way. It has energy no doubt, but at times seem reminiscent of the pitiful ripoff grunge bands of the early 2000s like Three Days Grace or Future Leaders of the World.

Elsewhere, on "Baby" things get groovy and power-poppish, almost like a Weezer cut that Rivers shelved because he didn't want the world to know he could still write good songs. And that's what Sad Baxter displays here more than anything - the ability to harness raw energy and emotion and actually put it into meaningful prose, like Mr. Cuomo used to be able to do. Still early in their career, only a 2016 album and this EP to their name, but there's enough heart on So Happy that establishes Sad Baxter as a legitimate act worthy of a following.

The brisk "Blow" is the main highlight for me. It sounds like ripped jeans, flannel, and warm beer at a basement show where the walls are padded with mattresses and cushions so the neighbors don't defecate a brick from the punishing sound. "Believe Me" is the ripper that will get most people excited due to it's hooky intro, and pop-punkish chorus repeated over and over. So Happy manages to be tight but sloppy at the same time, and this comes with the territory when you record over a 3 day period. It doesn't suffer too much from being rushed, but it does feel a little incomplete. On the plus side, they have a lot of room to capitalize on with So Happy, and their sound is timely, channeling the emotions so many of us have been feeling lately.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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