Danny Baxley - 'Identity'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Danny Baxley, an independent musician hailing from Boston. The 28-year-old songwriter has recently released a new four track studio endeavor, an EP entitled ‘Identity.’ The short collection is a mysterious hodgepodge of experimental themes that hop between several intriguing genre influences. Is it worth taking a listen to? Let’s delve into the four tunes and find out.

It’s worth noting right out of the gate that ‘Identity’ will not be for everyone. This is certainly niche music. Baxley’s sound is a compelling mixture of electronic, lo-fi, and alternative rock soundscapes. “This girl can’t wipe the pretentiousness off her face, and I can assure you it’s worse than resting bitch-face,” Baxley croons in a very matter-of-fact tone on ‘Unfavorable Fable.’ Frankly, his delivery and lyrical style is immensely refreshing. It reminds me quite a bit of the late Lou Reed’s style: blunt and to the point.

‘Unfavorable Fable’ is an interesting instrumental effort, too, with synthesizers bouncing back and forth in an erratic fashion as Baxley scores himself with acoustic guitars and random sound samples. It’s strangely lovable, as if Baxley is channeling a modern, independent version of Laurie Anderson or Kraftwerk. ‘A Twist of Lime for My Scotch’ houses some fantastic jangly electric guitar explorations, too, sounding a bit like a Modest Mouse creation.

There’s actually some pop influence soaked into ‘For When We Fall,’ too, equip with Baxley experimenting with an upbeat, auto-tuned chorus. He sings about social disconnects and people who linger too long on their phones in conversations before the song switches into an entirely different key. It’s the most complex track on ‘Identity,’ offering a fascinating space in which Baxley is simultaneously bizarre, yet easily digestible. It was clearly the best pick for the EP's single. 

The EP closes with ‘Want Fun,’ the album’s shortest, but most tightly executed track. The vocals on the song really drive home the aforementioned Kraftwerk-esque sound, and it’s all chock-full of solid, fantastic beats. ‘Want Fun’ is indicative of a composer who could even potentially collaborate with a hip hop artist at some point. It’s quite a good finale to the EP.

‘Identity’ is rather weird, perhaps, but it’s also rather great. Its oddball, experimental nature makes it feel fresh and unique, and even though one can draw a number of parallels as I have in this review, nothing feel overly derivative, either. It’s well worth a listen, and Baxley is worth keeping tabs on for future releases.