No, I’m not talking about the four troublesome actors. I prefer the unrelated musical duo. Actually, The Baldwin Brothers aren’t even brothers at all. Jason Hinkle and TJ Widner both met in high school in Indiana in 1983, both being musically inclined since a young age. Hinkle had proficient knowledge of guitar, bass, and drums by the end of his high school career, while Widner was a fantastic piano player since the age of six. When Hinkle heard Widner play, he invited him over for a jam session in his basement, which was virtually a recordng studio (Hinkle was born into a musical family). They decided on the name of The Baldwin Brothers (‘baldwin’ was an inside joke to them, meaning someone who was “in-the-know). After a few recordings, the two went their separate ways and attended college. Sure enough, they met again ten years later. Fate, perhaps? Hinkle and Widner immediately began to write music together again, with more musical comprehension than they had in high school. Widner has main control of the Rhodes, which is “an electric piano and my main ax,” says Widner. Hinkle takes care of the entire rhythm section, while newly recruited Dan Gottesman and Angry Skinny contribute in various ways.
The Return of the Golden Rhodes marks their second album on New York’s TVT Records. They define their sound as ‘junktronic’ — a diverse mixture of several musical styles, notably acid jazz, hip-hop, dance, and funk. “I don’t think you can peg us to an era,” Widner says, “I think our sound is timeless.” ‘Leave the Past Behind’ plays smoothly like a 70s soul love ballad, with a nice dance variation midway through. ‘A Matter of Time’ is the Baldwin’s take on hip-hop, mixing together jazz elements with modern hip-hop melodies to create a surprisingly catchy song, enhanced by the brass samples. ‘The Party’s Over’ borrows the talents of Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) to create a melodic and lush display of strings, more implemented brass, and a simple acoustic guitar stitched over the deep and emotional vocals. The Return of the Golden Rhodes is full of diverse and memorable songs and is probably the group’s most impressive release yet.