Review: The Baldwin Brothers

The Baldwin Brothers
“Cooking With Lasers”

I¹m not going to make fun of Alec, Daniel, Stephen or Billy. That would play right into the joke that is the moniker of Chicago’s self-proclaimed Œjunktronic band, The Baldwin Brothers. Instead, I will tell you about the music, which should stand on it’s own, regardless of what it’s called. And the music is remarkably down-tempo for someone claiming to be Œjunktronic. For starters, it’s only mildly funky, although it’s got mad grooves via a vintage 1978 Fender Rhodes electric piano. What’s odd is that these guys actually play most of the music featured here. Not samples, but live. Which you’d never guess, because it’s quite sterile. Like a paint-by-numbers electronic jazz-funk album, the oomph that is expected from ones likened to Medeski Martin and Wood never quite surfaces. What is left is an interesting, but ultimately repetitive mix to play at parties and barbecues. Where the Bros really sparkle is with their sly mix of vocal guests. Miho Hatori bubbles and pops on “Dream Girl”, Frenté’s Angie Hart makes the world seem dreamy on “Deep Down” and Baron Ricks just plain kicks it on “Urban Tumbleweed”. Unfortunately, those are the only highlights. It’s a dangerous place to occupy, being a mostly instrumental funk-based electronic outfit. Groups like The Hi-Fi Killers, The James Taylor Quartet and Critters Buggin all do/did the funk thing and I’m sure some people reading this have no idea who those bands are. And that’s a bad omen.