Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cassie Ramone of The Babies

"Hey, we should start a band." How many times has this declaration been uttered during late-night hangouts and road trips, never to come to fruition? Well, thank the gods of indie rock, or Brooklyn, or band collabs, or whoever's responsible for the sincerity of former roommates Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls) and Kevin Morby (Woods), when they decided to team up four years back to form The Babies. Ramone and Kevin Morby pictured center.

"We would play guitars together sometimes," Cassie said on the phone, on their way to a show in Portland. "Then [Kevin] moved out and started playing in Woods and I was playing in Vivian Girls and that took off too, so we wouldn't see each other that often. Then one day I saw him at a party, and we were walking to this other party and we decided to start a band. It was kind of a haphazard joke at the time, but then we got together to play a few weeks later and it sounded really good so we kept doing it."

Four years and two albums later, The Babies are thriving. Their most recent release, November's Our House on the Hill finds the band with a matured, defined sound come to life as its own entity, much more than The Babies' initial birth as a side project. While the first record, The Babies (2011), took two years to lay down, the recording for Our House on the Hill saw a radical shift in the process.

"We recorded the first record with our friend Jarvis Taveniere (of Woods) and we recorded it in Brooklyn. That record took probably two years to record because me and Kevin would always be on tour with Woods or Vivian Girls, so we could only get together for a day and record three or four songs. So the first album looks more like a compilation of stuff we recorded over our entire span of being a band thus far, at that time."

"On the new album we wanted to make something more cohesive. We did it in two weeks flat. The first record is like a patchwork quilt of material and the second record is trying to be more of a unified thing."

The album artwork depicts the cartoonish, but highly intense youthful romance that dominates The Babies' sophomore effort. "It's a desert wedding, like a Las Vegas wedding but more in the middle of nowhere. It's a diorama I made, like a kindergarten project built inside a beer bottle case. I made it without the intention of using it for anything really, but then we decided together to use it as the album cover."

The strength of The Babies' writing style lies in its simplicity. On "Baby," Cassie repeats a gorgeous, short and sweet "I got a lot of true love in my heart now," Shangri La'ing her fragile voice over muddled guitar and an in the pocket back beat. And the strength of Our House on the Hill lies in its variety, showcasing an eclectic mix of one-man guitar-jams, heartbroken singles, and cuts lead by both Cassie and Kevin, making for an undeniably catchy concoction of garage and pop.

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