On The Download: Middle Brother
First Published: March 8, 2011 8:15 PM EST Credit: Amy Hobbs
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Sometimes it’s difficult for me to write reviews when I like a project way too much. I don’t want to come off as a blathering, ranting and raving fan. This is one of those times due to the debut, self-titled disc by “supergroup” Middle Brother, comprised of John McCauley of Deer Tick, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit.
I am a huge fan of all three groups so anticipation for the collaboration was high, which can sometimes be a bad thing. John McCauley actually told me about Middle Brother when I interviewed Deer Tick well over a year ago, and at that point the album had already been recorded. That’s a long time to wait, and I have found that usually something that highly anticipated is destined to disappoint. Not in this case; the Middle Brother album truly lives up to the sum of its parts.
All three members trade off vocal (and instrumentation) duties on the disc, sometimes even on the same song and they really play on their own strengths. McCauley’s signature heartbreaking rasp, Goldsmith’s subdued perfection and Vasquez’s ragged Neil Young-esque howl all work perfectly on their respective tracks as well as combine to harmonize on beautiful choruses destined to be engrained in your mind for days to come.
Album opener “Daydreaming” and “Mom and Dad” find a road weary McCauley lamenting on loves lost and booze fueled heartbreak, while he channels Buddy Holly and the Crickets on the rocking title track.
Vasquez shines above the off-kilter beat of “Theater,” and the Doo-Wop laced “Someday.”
Taylor Goldsmith gets deep lyrically on the folksy “Wilderness,” and really lets loose on the aptly title “Blood and Guts.”
They make the sole cover song on the disc (The Replacements “Portland”) truly their own, singing on the chorus “It’s too late to turn back here we go…” summing up what I for one hope is a long future for them together as a group.
It’s rare that you find an album, especially this early in the year, packed wall to wall with gems, but here it is, 12 brilliantly well-written, concise diverse tracks, already my vote for album of the year.
A true rock record, not alternative, not adult pop, alt-country or singer/songwriter… Rock at it’s finest. Damn, there I go again with the ranting and raving.
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