October 26, 2006

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The Baldwin Brothers, The Return of the Golden Rhodes
TVT Records, 2006

The Brothers’ second album for hipsterista label TVT finds them settled down some, positioning their turntablism, samples and jungle breaks around a ’70s curiosity shop reminiscent of Winston Giles in its sang-froid innocence, sort of what you’d get if every decent jingle idea for a 20something-centric TV ad were lined up in a Madison Avenue stock-loopage comp. By that standard it’s often house-DJ-ready, but there are a lot of layers going on, making for a headphone or commute-time experience that’s personal and ultimately just plain, you know, nice. This sort of thing — technically progressive but down-to-earth experimentalism designed specifically for humans — is prototypical of what’ll eventually be thought of as the most salvageable sounds of a musical decade made entirely of spare parts from previous ones and devoid of pop originality; Golden Rhodes does require an honest loosening up on the listener’s part, particularly if your list of low-IQ energy-vampire buds is long, because they won’t get it. Plenty of Rhodes worship here (referring to the keyboard most people will recognize from TV’s Taxi theme), although its amniotic essence is mostly concentrated at the top of the record; the acid funk of “When My Brother Had a Datsun” and several other pieces escort it to the back of the bus, but it’s all good. A-

— Eric W. Saeger