Relax, this isn’t what you think. Your reoccurring nightmare that Alec, Billy, Stephen and Danny Baldwin might follow the lead of the Bacon Brothers and begin releasing horrible, horrible folk records with an annoyingly heavy-handed social conscious has not come to fruition. Yet.
Instead of another entry into the recent rash of uncalled-for movie star albums (Jack Black, you are excused), these Baldwin Brothers are actually a Chicago quartet of real musicians, who, despite anything else, cannot be blamed for “Pearl Harbor,” “Bio-Dome” or “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.”
What these boys are accountable for is their brand new debut LP, Cooking With Lasers, a funky mix of Electronica and 70s lounge jazz. With a sound centered around leader TJ Winder’s retro Fender Rhodes keyboards, the Baldwins have broken down the extended jams of their live shows and rebuilt them loop-by-loop on their laptops, using Sonic Foundry’s Acid program, a relatively straightforward variety of music-software.
The result is a slightly warmed-over collection of grooves that never quite gets around to be impressive as you might hope. The tracks are never unpleasant or unlistenable, only somewhat repetitive.
There is unfortunately nothing here as cool or infectious as the solo records of the Beastie Boy’s extraordinary organist Money Mark, or anything as compelling or innovative as jazz/jam band trio Medeski, Martin & Wood’s work with DJ Logic. Those acts went a long way to capture the depth and soul of master jazz-funk keyboardists Jimmy Smith and Richard “Groove” Holmes, while simultaneously blending in a definite modern edge. But because they follow close in those footsteps, the Baldwin Brothers fail to either match or re-invent those previous efforts on Cooking with Lasers, giving the record a “Haven’t we been here before?” sense of d