What is Baked paying off with their latest release, Debt? Is it school loans? Overdue karma points? The penalty for breaking a lease in New York City? Formed from the foundational crew behind fallen Brooklyn DIY venue Big Snow Buffalo Lodge, Baked undoubtedly shared a few unofficial sets during the Big Snow days, and some members even play together in other projects like Lost Boy? and Leapling. This particular line up of R.J. Gordon, Yoni David, Jeremy Aquilino, Isabella Mingione, and Davey Jones as Baked has actually been around since 2012, releasing their self-titled cassette less than two weeks after the accident that led to Big Snow’s demise last summer.
A year later, the album that was tracked during the Big Snow heydays is finally unearthed from its ashes to deliver an engagingly chill full-length debut. Debt‘s high points arise in its breakdowns, and usually on the coattails of Yoni’s driving cymbal crashes. R. J. Gordon’s vocals, at times, come in with a listless passion. Like on “Don’t Trip” as he and Isabella echo “It’s the second comin’ of Christ”, the words get caught in a humid August haze. They sound painfully restrained, garbled and suspended in the thick summer air a foot in front of their mouths. The percussion keeps chugging along though, pulling the whole album together.
The two standouts “Mick Jagger” and “Hungry Ghost” pull you in with their respective grooves—a dry hand drum on “Mick Jagger” and a steady snare and tom tap on “Hungry Ghost”. It’s the bridge, however, that begs for another listen. The immediacy of David’s drumming—a man who just 13 months ago was told he may never drum again—grounds the delay-rich guitar and languid vocals from the rest of the gang. The way David rocks the cymbals so hard on “Mick Jagger” and “Hungry Ghost” they don’t get a chance to ring through before crashing into his sticks again, that’s what brings you back. It’s unbridled passion and a certain staccato thrash that pulls off the couch and out of your mellow-zone to turn that record over another time. And makes you wonder how physical therapy three times a week has played into a distinctly driving drumming style.
No doubt the term”debt” refers in some way to the closing of Big Snow Buffalo Lodge. Whether it points to the financial obstacles of Big Snow’s closure or positions the record as the group’s expression of gratitude to the community and the venue David, Gordon and Aquilino co-managed, is hard to say. Debt‘s sound, though disparate, doesn’t suggest disjointed. From the lo fi pocket recorded buffer that opens “Cramsey”—before jetting into a fuzzed out high-speed rock n’ roll car chase—to the drippy funky groove on “Codec”, Debt pulls in parts of charging rock, chilled psych-groove, and even neo-salsa beats through its echoey wall of quick delay.
Overall, the nine-track album, doesn’t hang around without your help. Coming in under 30 minutes, Debt is easy to repeat. With each listen, the seams fade farther away until the album’s smattering of influences—like the Grizzly Bear-esque cavernous guitar strumming, wipe out-ready surf rock bass runs and the rippling psych-groove moments akin to Tame Impala—becomes a fluid sound that alternately revs you up and lulls you into a happy daze. On first listen the album’s seams may be apparent but after a few spins, they become a subtle, ripply reminder that each song is part of a bigger whole.