Baptist Generals return with sophomore album after 10 years

The Denton, Texas, alternative band Baptist Generals return after a decade of absence, bringing alt-rock that's not exactly religious.
BY GENE TRIPLETT etriplett@opubco.com Modified: June 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm •  Published: June 19, 2013
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“So we worked on the record from late December of 2011 until August (2012), just on and off,” he said.

A new approach

And this time, Flemmons knew that if the album was going to be completed, at some point he was going to have to let go of the master tapes and trust his bandmates to add the finishing touches.

“Well, it was something that I learned at the festival,” he said. “I was far more of a control freak 10 years ago than I am now. Yeah, I had particular things that I wanted, but at the festival I learned that you have to rely on other people. It's too large a production to like try to do everything yourself, and you have to put your trust in other people and trust that they have an understanding of what you're trying to do.

“So it wasn't that they had to wrest the album from me. ... I told them if we're gonna make this, you guys step up, and you all are the ones that schedule the times. I really just wanna show up and feel it and work on what I'm supposed to work on. And the album production's been a whole different experience for me. It's been really positive. It's the first time in the studio that I didn't feel hamstrung by time considerations and production concerns and stuff and, yeah, everybody stepped up. Like it was somethin' that they cared about, you know?”

Thanks to producer Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, Cat Power, The Walkmen, Modest Mouse, The White Stripes), co-producer and collaborator Jason Reimer and longtime Generals guitarist-keyboardist Peter Salisbury, the production is cleaner, the rough edges have been smoothed off a bit, and the general tone of the album is more upbeat than the first record.

Yet the arrangements remain eccentric, adventurous, unpredictable and habit-forming, with the usual variety of exotic instruments (guitarrons, vibraphones, waterphones, marimbas) enriching the textures of every tune, from the vibrant strum and drive of the opening instrumental “Machine en Prolepsis,” through the Crazy Horse-grunge of the rollicking “Dog That Bit You,” the primal rhythms, orchestral swell, spacey keyboard effects and crystalline acoustic plucking of “Turnunders and Overpasses,” the glittering vibes and thundering drive of “Broken Glass” and the ambient feedback and noise that gives way to the peaceful, folky, unexpectedly tender love ballad, “Floating.” There's even a mellow, coffeehouse-style acoustic cover of Barry Gibbs' life-affirming “Morning of My Life” that makes one suspect Flemmons has started popping potent antidepressants.

‘Love' album?

The Sub Pop press release accompanying the album quotes Flemmons as calling this his “love” album, but he denies ever labeling it as such.

“It's a bunch of relationship songs, but ... I don't necessarily call it a ‘love album,'” he said. “I mean, I know that's what's in the publicity but ... These songs, I'm really excited to finally go out and play 'em live, because I think the record has kind of a subdued quality compared to the last one, in a sense. The last one's got a little bit more drunken bombast to it, you know?

“But these songs have a lot of life in the live presentations that I can't wait to get out and show that part of it.”

The fans have certainly waited long enough. And he promises Oklahoma City — or maybe Norman — will eventually be added to The Baptists Generals' tour schedule.

“We've played in Bricktown before, yeah, years ago. We did that two or three times. We usually do Norman or Oklahoma City, and we did that several times during the cycle for the last record from like 2003 to 2006. So I'm fairly certain we'll be coming through there.”