By Kai Shuart
Sad Baby Wolf is the Albuquerque-based result of the collaborative efforts of Marty Crandall and Neal Langford, formerly of The Shins, Marty’s brother Maury Crandall, and their friends Jason Ward and Sean McCullough. To test the waters, the newly formed band has decided to take their show on the road. They played the Noise Pop festival in February, and are slated to play several music festivals this summer. To whet everyone’s appetite, the band has released their version of the Neutral Milk Hotel tune “Everything Is” to the public.
Having listened to both versions in the writing of this review, I gravitated to the Sad Baby Wolf version just a bit more. While the trippy synths and echoed vocals of Neutral Milk Hotel’s original have an absolute ramshackle charm, the Sad Baby Wolf version replaces them with a much more streamlined, straight-ahead rock instrumentation of electric guitars, bass, and drums, as well as vocals that aren’t nearly as mixed under as they are in the original.
For me, these changes translated into a much tighter and more immersive listening experience. Being able to hear the lyrics without a bunch of echo to distract brought to light just how happily absurd the lyrics are (the prime example of such being a line about old men playing kazoos and beating drums). Also, being able to hear the guitar unadorned brings into focus just how powerful the melody is.
All in all, I was quite impressed with what I heard and look forward to more information as to where the band will be playing this summer.
Sad Baby Wolf’s debut album will be released later this summer. Listen to and download their cover of “Everything Is” here. Be sure to check out their debut single, “8th Level”/“Survival Guide” and visit their website for more info.