If you like Vampire Weekend, you should listen to their bassist Chris Baio’s new solo album, The Names. If you don’t like Vampire Weekend, you should still listen to The Names. Heck, if you just came up from that rock you’ve been living under and have no clue who Vampire Weekend are, you should still listen to Baio’s masterpiece, The Names. That’s because Baio’s first full length album isn’t just a Vampire Weekend side project: its 5 years of work, the product of which is uniquely Baio. Here are ten things to think about while listening to The Names:
- Once you start listening you’re never going to want to stop. I would describe The Names as a mix of strong pop songs and experimental electronic. It’s danceable and fun, but also has enough fascinating depth that you’ll want to listen to its entirety over and over and over (etc).
- He’s been thinking about this solo album for around 5 years and spent all his time off busy Vampire Weekend life learning about the technicalities of creating a song. He even took a mixing and mastering course!
- The addition of lyrics also makes his music immediately more accessible, especially when they are so clever. You shouldn’t take that gloomy lyric from Endless Rhythm “I’ve never heard a lyric that I really liked/ every lyric I’ve written is a lyric I despise” so literally. When asked about this line he says
“I was thinking how the process of making a song represents frustration and roadblocks. Living life can feel infinite. Life can feel infinite and language by its very nature is limited. It can’t fully express what it’s like to be alive. So there’s already a limiting theme and then writing a song lyric is even more limiting. You’re trying to fit into three minutes. You’re trying to make it rhyme. You’re trying to make it fit rhythmically. I think that can be a frustrating thing when you’re writing a song but I don’t actually feel that way. It’s more of a metaphor.”
(Ironically, that reasoning makes it one of my favorite lines ever)
4.Baio used to be a college DJ during the less than popular time slot of 2-4 am. Even though there weren’t many listeners, Baio says this was an important time for his musical tastes to form.
5.Baio used to dislike his own voice! In this interview with Nick Offerman from 2013 he said “I mean, you haven’t heard me do much singing, so that might be unpleasant”. I’m glad that he found enough confidence to sing on the record since I find that his almost intimate vocals add something special and unique to his sound. Despite what he used to think, his voice is very lovely!
6.If the title “Sister Of Pearl” sounds familiar, you’re not crazy, it’s actually a pretty explicit reference to Roxy music’s “Mother of Pearl”. Baio often lists Bryan Ferry as one of his favorite musicians and the title is a kind of shout out to him. With its infectious guitar riff, simple piano, and moving bass line, Sister of Pearl is the best example of Baio’s ability to write catchy creative pop tunes
7.The album title may also sound familiar since it’s named after Don DeLillo’s book “The Names”. After finding out that DeLillo grew up in the same small suburb as him, Baio went through all his work and liked the universality of the title “The Names”, deciding to adopt it for his record.
8.Endless rhythm is written for a painting of the same title that he would often visit when writing the album. Since Endless Rhythm is a strange name for an art piece (It’s more like the title of a song) Baio thought it would be neat to write music to accompany it.
9.We have the beautiful city of London to thank for this album- Baio’s not sure that he would have ever made an album if he hadn’t moved to London!
10.Baio has two other instrumental EP’s, “Sunburn” and “Mira”. You can hear the influence of these tracks on the full length, but once he puts his vocals on top it changes the vibe completely.
Check if Baio will be playing a show near you here