Middle Brother

February 24th, 2011 by Taylor DeBoer


The likes of Dawes, Deer Tick, and Delta Spirit have joined to form—for lack of a better term—a folk supergroup. Unlike 2009’s Monsters of Folk, this less ambitious effort sounds like a more rootsy Deer Tick album, rather than a combination of the three artists perspective bands. That being said, the album is very enjoyable because of McCauley’s gravely voice, Goldsmith’s soft croon, and the group’s playful lyrics.

Starting off with the mellow and conversational “Daydreaming”, the tone is set. The Simon and Garfunkel-esque  “Thanks for Nothing,” pulls at the hear wires of melancholy, but still slips in a slice of hope—a good folk song accomplishes both. That along with the angelic melodies propels the song past the rest of the record.

The title track, “Middle Brother” is catchy and rambling. Continuing the conversational tone, McCauley sings “Get my nourishment from a punch in the gut,” and “regrets, turrets, I guess it’s all the same.” With honky-tonk guitar riffs the song is jovial and punchy.

“Theatre”, which sounds like Ryan Adams circa Love is Hell, adds a slow and slightly mediocre pace breaker to the record. The interpersonal and imagery-driven “Portland,” is the best example of McCauley’s knack for songwriting—“Shared a cigarette for breakfast, shared an airplane ride for lunch/sitting between a ghost and a walking bowl of punch,” He sings with a his scratchy voice that screams desperation and an SOL attitude.

The harmonic pop blasts of “Someday” help it stand out (along with “Thanks for Nothing”) as a true gem with retro rock n’ roll sentiments. It’s throwback piano chop and grainy guitar lull carry it beyond an album that is meddling between the line of mediocre and good.

The album closes on the simple, but clever acoustic ballad, “Million Dollar Bill.” Middle Brother are an every man’s band, with a simple, but enjoyable every man’s record. Trading vocal duties, but sticking mostly with McCauley makes the record sound like a Deer Tick jaunt with some collaboration with fellow troubadours.  If folk is your thing, then you’ll like, but don’t expect it to floor you.

3/5




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