Penicillin Baby “Jams: Vol. 1” EP
Published in Blog Archive, Break on a Cloud. Tags: Music, Nashville.
Having evolved out of Magic Veteran, Penicillin Baby is a Nashville-based four-piece comprised of former MV members Jon Conant (vocals) and Anuj Pandeya (drums), as well as Charlie Davis (guitar) and Deep Machine’s Brennan Walsh (bass). We Own This Town called their sound “psychedelic space-y jams” but in catching up with the band via email, Jon Conant added a broader context for their direction.
“Jams Vol. 1 was very much inspired by me relocating to Nashville. I altered the sound of what was Magic Veteran (jammy psych blues) into what is now Penicillin Baby, which is a bit more focused in the songwriting approach, and puts more emphasis on high energy material that white kids can dance to. While writing this material I became very influenced by late ’70s/early ’80s punk and new wave stuff: bands like Modern Lovers, Echo and the Bunnymen, [and] Television. Also a lot of psych music from the ’60s like 13th Floor Elevators. This is the stuff I was listening to while writing these songs.”
The group’s sound is a pleasing blend of influence and exploration, without falling into psychedelic traps of drowning in fuzz or wavy feedback experiments. Complementing the instruments nicely are Conant’s vocals which he insists are really there to just increase the musical complexity of the group’s songs rather than add any lyrical depth.
“The lyrics (which are purposefully unintelligible) simply come from my everyday experiences, no philosophic BS or anything; I just write about shit that happens to me. I try not to put a huge emphasis on lyrics, and focus on creating energy that people can partake in. That is the main difference [between] this band and my last one.”
One of the most telling aspects of Penicillin Baby’s depth is that by the end of the three track EP, the immediately urge is to simply press play again. It’s one of my favorite methods of releasing music — a single song or select few tracks rather than a full-length release — but as Conant mentioned, the strategy was a direct result of some terribly unfortunate circumstances. In speaking to the pending release of Jams 2 & 3 he explained,
“[Jams] 2 will be done in the next week or two. We’ve had all of the songs for those EPs written for a few months, we just decided not to do a full length album and do three EPs instead for several reasons: 1) We recorded an entire full length record in January and the files mysteriously disappeared from the studio’s computer — I guess it was fate; 2) We like to do small releases to keep fans interested and be constantly releasing material; 3) As we play the songs more in a live setting, we change them and tweak them ever so slightly so we don’t record a song until we’re fully sure it cant get any better. Spacing out the releases gives us a chance to take everything in small steps and make sure the songs we want to put out are perfectly fine tuned.”
The delicacy of “Jean Jam,” the post-punk sounds of “Thought it Couldn’t Be This Way,” and the straight-forward rocker “Hecklers” speak directly to this fine-tuned approach: Nothing here is rushed, and each track seems equally well crafted and carefully produced.
Keep your eyes and ears open in the coming weeks for Jams 2 and 3, as well as a split 7″ release with Megajoos, which are all in the works to drop via Conant’s Favorite Face imprint.
[This article first appeared on Break on a Cloud.]