Sad Baby Wolf – 8th Level / Survival Guide
After departing The Shins under whatever terms one may assume, lead singer Marty Crandall and a few of his old Albuquerque friends dedicated themselves to a benefit concert for another old friend. Needing a couple of original tracks to round out their performance, Marty, brother Maury on drums, former Shins guitarist Neil Langford and friend Jason Ward quickly and effortlessly produced these two tracks in short order. Under the heading of Sad Baby Wolf, the band are looking to release their full-length debut in spring of 2012. These samples certainly do whet the appetite for more, as unexpected as they are in their style.
Unexpected because, of course, one might expect to hear much of the Shins in the sound of a band comprised of 50% former Shins members. But, to me I am getting a much more aggressive approach from Sad Baby Wolf. "8th Level" is pleasant enough, drifting on a wonderful guitar melody courtesy of Neil while Marty’s sharp voice counterpoints in fine fashion. Very catchy, with some twang and tempo nods to their former outfit, but ultimately different enough to not be considered apeing. "Survival Guide" is the better of the two in my opinion, with an interesting mix of thumping bass and dissonant guitar runs that mesh beneath Marty’s potent vocals/lyrics. Despite the pop-orientation of 8th Level, it is Survival Guide that has "hit" written all over it. It meanders long enough to flesh itself out, and ends on a bombastic and overblown note that has left me absolutely drooling over what might come from this ambitious project.
I highly suggest to any Shins fans that they check these tracks out, which can be listened to and downloaded directly from the band’s facebook page. "Survival Guide" alone has me anticipating what’s to come next, and I think many will agree.