Boytoy: Night Leaf (PaperCup Music/Stolen Body/Burger Records)
Brooklyn band, named after Madonna’s belt-buckle (!) release their second album – laid-back and groovy, ordinary yet extraordinary, says Ged Babey. For Fans of the Velvets, Bangles, Waitresses, Shangri-La’s, Beatles, Stones….. and Josie & the Pussycats.
The first “all-girl” band I ever loved were Josie & the Pussycats... and for some bizarre reason listening to Boytoy dredged up the memory from 48 years back! By some kind of freaky coincidence one of Boytoy mention the fictional animated band in an interview here!
I only got this album because one of La Luz was involved – and I’m infatuated with them- their sound/songs/music that is – I’m not some weird stalker. They sound nothing like La Luz at all though. Well, maybe a tiny bit on one song.
On first listen I kinda thought ‘Meh!’ Mentally noted they reminded me of the Bangles – but more laid-back, the Waitresses – without the ‘novelty’ songs, and that All the Leaves are brown and the sky is grey song by the Mamas and the Papas They sound like a garage band who started off with the Velvets ‘Loaded’ as their main inspiration but dig a bit of Gram Parsons and alt-soft-rock as well. Not really my bag.
Boytoy is a summer-time strut down a New York City sidewalk as the sun slips behind the horizon where cement meets the shore and waves crash on pavement. Their sound ebbs and flows between natural harmony and destruction—embodying the bright grooves of the 1960’s with heavy guitar riffs snatched from the Lower East Side of the 1970’s.
Their forthcoming sophomore LP, Night Leaf, was born on a ranch in Topanga Canyon, California, surrounded by three dogs, two pigs, nostalgic tones of warm tube amps, analog tape machines and a slew of old trucks, RV’s, and surfboards.
After a couple listens, an unexpected bit of hot weather engulfed the South and bus-journeys to wage-slavery became a joy with Boytoy as the soundtrack. Lazy, nasal Noo York vocals, a lackadaisical groove -part Velvets, part Headcoatees, part-I dunno .. but it just seemed right. The titles New York Rip Off, Static Age and I Get Distant made perfect sense. This is music which doesn’t seem to Try-Too-Hard, And it’s Easy-Listening but With Atitood. That was when the Josie & the Pussycats thought entered my head…. something to do with a travelling girl-band having adventures… one song Juarez finds them “In an RV/straight thru Texas / to El Paso / where the show is… and inadvertently over the border into Mexico. Then they’re in New York, “with a backpack full of stuff that I carry around” until they are ripped-off….
Asked what their song lyrics are about in the brilliant soundigest interview from last year, Saara replied with a superb soundbite.
“Dreams, loves, flings, current events, the human and the mundane. Anything that tickles our pickles.”
That should be the title of the next album…. OK, maybe it’s a bit too long. Here’s more proper info.
With a fresh collection of genuine tunes and contagious rhythms, founding members Saara Untracht-Oakner (vocals, guitar) and Glenn Michael Van Dyke (vocals, guitar), were joined by Chase Noelle (drums, ex-Thelma and The Sleaze) and Lena Simon (bass, La Luz), to record at producer Kyle Mullaky’s renowned Pump House Studio. Mullarky is well known for his work producing and recording California bands including The Growlers and Allah-Las.
I like it when an album which seems ordinary and laid-back worms its way into your consciousness and becomes extraordinary and groovy. Boytoy give the impression they are slackers or stoners who have accidentally made a great record, but it’s probably part of a subtle masterplan.
It’s a fine, fine rock’n’roll album, but the closing ‘Cold Love’ – a six minute epic, is a classy piece of timeless, tearjerking songwriting, worthy of the Brill Building greats. (I don’t believe in cryin’ no more …. But I do… wish the best for you). Mellow enough to be a Radio 2 hit, but cool enough to be taken to the hearts of hip-kids and lovers of rootsy-retro cool.
Night Leaf is an album which will fall under the radar of most popular culture commentators as it was made for love and for fun rather than for money and sales….. but, get these songs on the radio, TV and it would be the beginning of a new golden age for proper Pop music.
UK tour dates
MAY 13 SUN Lock Tavern, London
MAY 14 MON The Moon, Cardiff
MAY 15 TUE Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow
MAY 16 WED Mike’s Sticky Frog, Brighton
MAY 17 THU Cobalt Studios, Newcastle
MAY 18 FRI The Crofter’s Right, Bristol
MAY 20 SUN Shacklewell Arms, London
All words by Ged Babey