Formed in Chicago in 2002, the band Baby Teeth was short-lived but full of raw emotion and energy. Compared to such artists as Elvis Costello, Andy Pratt, Manfred Mann and even Queen, this Midwestern indie-rock band found a niche at Chicago’s Hideout and Schuba’s Tavern.
The band also played a wider circle, touring to New York, Florida, Minnesota and even the United Kingdom. Here’s a look at the quirky style of music the band played, the musicians who made up the band and Baby Teeth’s achievements over the years before breaking up in 2012.
Described as indie-rock or indie-pop, Baby Teeth was originally composed of three musicians before adding a guitarist in 2007. The music is a sliding, grooving mix of soulful piano riffs and funky bass lines, combined with the crooning drawl of lead singer Abraham Levitan. There’s a retro feel to many of the songs, a feel that’s reminiscent of the old classics of fifty and sixty years ago. The band stayed committed to a sound that was emotionally charged, with lyrics filled to the brim with wry irony.
Baby Teeth was initially composed of three musicians. Abraham Levitan, known formerly as Pearly Sweets because he thought the name sounded more fitting to New Orleans, took center stage as lead singer, songwriter and keyboardist. His voice ranges from deep and crooning to a screaming falsetto. His songs take listeners on an emotional, soulful experience twisted by wry humor and ironic lyrics.
Levitan was joined by bassist Jim Cooper. Cooper’s bass lines featured a greasy funk feel that intertwined well with Levitan’s keyboard tickling. Baby Teeth’s backbone was drummer Peter Andreadis. The band was completed in 2007 by guitarist Michael Lyons.
The band experienced a variety of achievements before breaking up in July of 2012. The artists released a total of four CDs together in ten years, as well as three EPs and two singles. Additionally, Abraham Levitan headed a special project called 52 Teeth, which was a collection of single songs released once a week for a year. Baby Teeth also played with a wide variety of other bands, including the Fiery Furnaces, Silver Jews, Bobby Conn and All City Affairs.
The artists of Baby Teeth challenged themselves to write both music and lyrics separate from one another. In these challenges Levitan, Cooper and Andreadis would work alone on separate songs and then come together and share their songs with one another. The first of these challenges resulted in the bands first EP, “For The Heathers,” which included all three “Heather” songs written by each of the musicians as well as two more songs to fill out the EP.
They again performed the challenge with the word “boss” and produced another EP from the results. This method produced an eclectic variety of songs that, while focusing on a theme, highlighted the artists’ unique voices and musical abilities.
Baby Teeth performed for the last time as a band in July of 2012 at Lincoln Hall in Chicago before bassist Jim Cooper moved cross-country to California. The band came together in July of 2013 for a reunion performance at their favorite hangout, The Hideout in Chicago. Old fans reunited one more time for this performance that featured all of the old band members.