Music News

Baptist Generals

It's hard not to giggle a little bit at the end of "Ay Distress," the opening track from the Baptist Generals' No Silver/No Gold. After a perfectly haunting performance of the slow spare tune, someone's cell phone rings in the garage studio. With the spell broken and a perfect take of the song ruined, singer Chris Flemmons goes apeshit, hitting things and swearing emphatically.

The moment perfectly articulates the Baptist Generals' volatile approach: Just when you're vulnerable to the music that's speaking to the rawest part of you, it gets aggressive and makes you damned uncomfortable.

The Denton, Texas, four-piece crafts a purely organic sound that is confrontational in some places (Jeff Helland makes the guitarrón one of the most intimidating instruments ever on "Alcohol") and wearily hopeful in others. For example, on "Feds on the Highway," Flemmons implores, "Don't hold inside your heart the things that trouble you." The writing on No Silver/No Gold makes it clear that Flemmons is a tortured soul; one imagines his alone time is hellish at best, and this is translated beautifully into the music. Throughout the record, the listener is taken from one emotional extreme to the other, from calming serenity to raging aggression.

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Melanie Haupt