CD Review: “The Names”- BAIO

by Camilo Arenivar

There have not been a lot of full length music releases this year that have really grabbed my attention. It could be because I am a little bit of a musical snob with specific tastes. Baio’s “The Names” has grabbed my attention. Its nine songs are a sonic journey through sound and harmony. I think it helped that my first listening was on headphones while at the gym.

Baio is Chris Baio, the bassist from the wildly popular alternative rock band Vampire Weekend. Fortunately, this set of work does not make me think of Vampire Weekend at all.

How do I describe this collection of songs? It’s eclectic electronic dance grooves shimmering with melodic hooks and a good voice. I will say Baio’s vocals make me think of the late 80s/early 90s version of singers like Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan or Cause & Effect’s Rob Rowe.

The opening song is really musically out there, I mean all over the place with a guitar sounding effect(it very well may be a guitar) and a hypnotic dance beat and weird sound effects and vocals too. But somehow, it is eclectic in a perfect way. The peak of excellence doesn’t become apparent until track 4, “I Was Born in a Marathon”. It starts off as a cascade of fast beats of varying sounds and then at 2:03 it comes to an abrupt halt. Is the song over? No, not according to the time counter. Then slowly, the music fades back in but different elements of the first 2 minutes are present and then, the singing finally beings. “I was lost in a marathon, now I am lost at sea…” This brilliantly executed song if you could call it that then bleeds into my other favorite track, “Needs”. “Sister of Pearl” is the initial single off this CD, and it is indeed the most “ready for radio” track and that does not in any way indicate it is any less excellent. “Needs”, “Matter”, and “Endless Rhythm” would also fit well with alternative radio.

The 9-song collection that makes up “The Names” also includes 3 instrumentals and ultimately leaves you longing for more. And that’s in a good way.

Sister of Pearl:

I Was Born in a Marathon:

Endless Rhythm: