Babe Rainbow – The Organic Band
Turn your gaze up. The naked stars are out. The boombox is cranked to 11, salty air on the fresh breeze, and cool sand squeezes between your toes. You enjoy friendly conversation at length and share some laughs. It is “Smile Time”…so much so that your jaws hurt. Find the cooler covered in wet sand and grab some cold beers. Time to wax up the Hobie longboard for tomorrow A.M.’s rally, and gather ’round a warm fire dug into the sand. After a long sunny Saturday in the surf, that sounds epic to me. Now picture this vibe in album form. That is the newest effort from Babe Rainbow, The Organic Band, wrapped in a tight wetsuit. It is Saturday Night.
Hailing from the picturesque beach community of Byron Bay, New South Wales, The Babe exudes mystical transcendence and natural experiences in pure blissful exaltation. This LP simply oozes beach party vibes. The band, in their 5th studio LP, continues in their own distinctive way to weave a rich tapestry contrasting earthly pleasures and interstellar detours. Lucky us, as this album was originally set for release in early 2023. If there was ever a critical time when we needed more carefree grooves in our lives, it is now.
One spin through the latest release instantly took me to the Gold Coast and got me thinking about my own relationship to my community of friends and our connection to nature. If there is one thing that the Australian quartet does well, it is their inherent connection to and appreciation for simple times, natural atmospheres, and sincere connections. As echoed in the seminal novel, One Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka,
“Fast rather than slow, more rather than less-this flashy “development” is linked directly to society’s impending collapse. It has only served to separate man from nature.”
The Organic Band gives us a healthy dose of the opposite.
This same vein of thought is thoroughly revisited on the band’s track Things are Different Now specifically, with its rising harmonies. In fact, there are many parallels between the bands alter-realities in their own natural, farming backgrounds in Australia and the latest effort. Rooted initially in the purest of surf pop and psych-rock from the fuzzy era of the 60’s and 70’s, their sound now continues to evolve bringing in the more deliberate traces of funk, dance, and afro-pop. One thing is clear, it is simply impossible to be in a bad mood listening to the Babe, as infectious rhythms abound.
The band was formed initially in 2015 by guitarist Jack Crowther, aka “Cool Breez”, vocalist and drummer, Angus Dowling, and formerly, bassist Lu-Lu Felix Domingo, on a backbone of fairly one-dimensional stoner rock and psych-pop. That mix only took the trio so far, including through their one and only tour through our Capitol City in 2017. Through their handful of full-length releases, losing Lu-Lu, and picking up bassist, Elliot “Dr. Love Wisdom” OReilly, and artist / drummer Miles Myjavec, the quartet has now taken their craft to a higher level into “Inner Space”. Originally signed to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard‘s label Flightless Records, there is a consistent theme to the Australian compatriots. Infectious pop sensibilities paired with a fair share of psychedelia influence are the repertoire du jour.
Now, onto the music and the first track, Inner Space sets the tone early on with its driving beat and funky bass line. “Space and sky never end” we are told, as the interlude rises to the sky. “Hare Krishna” they harmonize together, whereas everything that exists, exists right now, as it is said. A slight change in vibe is reset in Smash the Machine, with its Vox overdubbed vocals and pop-driven chord progression allowing the listener to wrap your “pleasure in the theme of the day”. All the Power is really when the party really begins, opening with a synth and funk guitar rift, it is Saturday night ala Daft Punk. This is The Babe Rainbow at a point in their career that we have not seen before, it takes all the best of what we have seen thus far and ties it all together in a neatly polished collection. Springtime in Australia is in full bloom, on now to Summer! Naxos allows the rhythm section in O’Reilly and Myjavec to shine alongside the introduction of a vibraphone (first credited on the fantastic Live Levitation Sessions LP release from April 2022) and the continued subtle appearance of flute. In this track is the initial bass line that caught and demanded my attention.
The warmth of sun-soaked beaches of the Mediterranean reminds us again of who we are dealing with. Sweet lyrical phrases drip like an I.V. of serotonin including “summer sun and sleeping in” and “run across the beach of love”. Feel that endorphin rush and we arrive back at the sunny, swinging, Sixties. Wild About Harry and Flashback continue this theme of slow harmonious tendencies, with acoustic support in the former.
It is within the last quarter of the album where The Babe takes it up a notch starting with Open Up Your Heart. What comes through is a call to arms to the world for authenticity. Reignited reverb and vocal tapestries wash over the listener on Fantastic Listener, and the aforementioned Things are Different Now reminding us again to slow down. That leaves us with arguable the best track on the album, Sunshine and Shadow. In it shows a darker vibe, striking more immediacy and intimacy, where Dowling croons, “I feel the real you”. And I you.
“It is generally thought that there is nothing more splendid than human intelligence, that human beings are creatures of special value, and that their creations and accomplishments, as mirrored in culture and history are wondrous to behold”
…continues Fukuoka. To that I say, crack open a Fosters, dig in on some fresh Pomelos and Soursops, and enjoy all that we, as a human culture, have to offer. I will catch you on the waves!
Don’t miss the gents at Levitation Fest alongside Sugar Candy Mountain and Seventies Tuberide on October 27th at Antone’s. It is a sold-out show (obviously!), so I hope you snagged your tickets. It is sure to be a magical evening.