Tag Archives: new release

Dawes, Delta Spirit, Deer Tick Squeeze In Tight As Middle Brother

 They say they ain’t no supergroup, but self-proclaimed “exotic band” Middle Brother is brimming with indie rock’s finest road warriors: soulful Delta Spirit frontman Matt Vasquez, Dawes’ country-folk hustler Taylor Goldsmith and Deer Tick anchor John McCauley. This resplendent synergistic concoction is brought to us curtsey of Partisan Records, home anachronistic female trio Mountain Man and cross dressing miscreants Deer Tick. Drawing from Rock’s bottomless tide pool, Middle Brother’s eponymous LP fuses Mississippi blues, Dixie ballads and folksy Americana, cut with generous globs of quirk and kink.

On single “Me, Me, Me”, Middle Brother fires an opening salvo with carefree, spontaneous yelps and skittering piano lines. Chuck Berry-esque guitar riffs drag us through a lyrical morass, as McCauley conveys an urgent tale of manipulation and egocentrism. Bombarded with questions, he faces fierce competition in life and love: “If he puts lies in your head / if he interrupts a feelin’ / that he cannot comprehend / I guess it’s meeee me me me meeee.” This suave dude chasing after McCauley’s girl may be smooth around the edges, but he lacks an authentic and genuine core: he is hollow. The ensuing instrumental flurry, equal parts sock hop and raunchy carnival, sets up a proclamation of headstrong independence and boiling lust: “I do my very own things these days / I gotta desiahhhhh / I gotta desiahhhhh!’”

Vasquez struts to the mic in “Green Eyes”, backed by Goldsmith’s chiming Rickenbacker, as high standards meet slim pickings: “I’ve been lookin’ for sometime / in a room full of pennies, for my dime.” Dwarfed by chronic loneliness, Vasquez dishes out a densely rendered fantasy, rife with restrictive accent qualifications and the apparent contradiction of wholesome sexuality: “She’s a Southern girl without a drawl / she’s a good girl who wears black bras.” Shuffling tambourine and metronomic hand clapping on title track “Middle Brother” frame denial as second nature. In turn, ignorance is unadulterated bliss: “I know my days are numbered / but I’m bad at math.” Playful riffs shoot from behind the vocals to the pulse of rhythmic excitement. Taking us back to those trailblazing ‘56 Sun Records days, Middle Brother interjects us with Elvis’ throaty, erotically charged “Uh huh,” chased by a cathartic, exuberant “Woooo, wheee!” that would have Jerry Lee Lewis crying happy tears. As the track fades, we hear a faint “that’s a wrap,” followed by Vasquez’s signature schoolyard diction: “we did it motherfuh…” Just in time to keep that family friendly rating.

Country waltz “Theatre” matches Vasquez’s glottal grinding with a deconstructed piano. He delivers coarse, dirty vocals with brutal conviction, frustration, and resentment: “This life will tell you nothing / nothing but lies.” Ripping to shreds life’s unfulfilled promises with the rapture of gospel, raspy howls permeate the track. Covering Paul Westerberg’s “Portland”, tranquil, crisp, finger picking softens McCauley’s pitchy vocal, as his cool disregard is exposed as a poorly masked amalgam of nostalgia and anxiety: “Its too late to turn back, here we go / Portland, oh, no.”

Closing out the elpee with “Million Dollar Bill”, we are reduced to a two-dimensional slip of paper in pursuit of a girl that’s already slipped away. Goldsmith’s humble, pristine voice turns ambition on its head, as he fantasizes: “When it hits me that she’s gone / I think I’ll run for president / and get my face put on the million dollar bill.” But his drive for posterity is neither societal progress, nor world peace, nor any of that groovy jazz, but simply to remain with his erstwhile lover as a mere shadow: “So when these rich men that she wants / show her ways that they can take care of her / I’ll have found a way to be there with her still.” Vasquez finishes the album with soulful quivering that is at once bewildered and bursting with passion, as he wails in merciless yearning for his love’s return. Stuck in the middle with these three? Squeeze me in!

-HJH-

Dodos’ No Color Wipes Pallet Clean

The Dodos’ No Color has founding members Eric Long and Logan Krober trimming their instrumental crew to two, ditching that bloated vibraphone for the atmospheric, luscious backup vocals of alt-country songstress Neko Case. Concurrently immersed in cerebral contemplation and visceral intensity, The Dodos’ fourth LP recaptures the urgent physicality of 2008’s Visitor. And still baby faced on the steep side of 30? Ponce de Leon, call off the flotilla!

nocolor

Released on Frenchkiss Records — home to Silver Lake psych folkies Local Natives and loquacious, verbose indie rockers The Hold SteadyNo Color’s opening track “Companions” kicks off with frontman Eric Long’s blushing romanticism. Delivered with scalding conviction: “Insipid wait and so we play /Companions.”

Propped by raw, caterwauling raillery on “Don’t Try And Hide It,” The Dodos admonish passive embrace of turnkey lives: “Don’t give your eyes to other’s vocations / They are there to keep you in your station.” Offering us exodus from a monochromatic, future: “Don’t try and hide it, don’t try and hide it, fight it!” Throughout the LP, No Color features percussionist Logan Krober’s signature drum rim tapping and “tambourine shoe” to match Long’s escalating vocal prowess.

-HJH-

Spoon’s Transference Streaming

Listen to Spoon’s latest album – Transference – on NPR’s Exclusive First Listen. The album will be streaming for the next week, up until its official release on Tuesday Jan. 19!