Over the past few years, I’ve talked about Brother O’ Brother a whole lot. The Indianapolis duo of Christ Banta and Warner Swopes have given me a lot to talk about. Their ferocious live show, mind-bending vinyl releases, and their brand new record label Romanus Records. Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to sing the praises of such things, but to me, the most important thing about Brother O’ Brother, is the music. We’re all in luck too! A brand new album, Neon Native is about to be unleashed upon the world.
Out of this world, vinyl variants are nice but what’s on them is the most important!
With all the talk about vinyl and their explosive live show, it’s a complete disservice not to talk about just how good Brother O’ Brother are as a band. Banta’s frontman persona is like if Jimi Hendrix possessed a televangelist in a Tim Burton film. His vocals go from cool and collected to teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown in each song!
On the rhythm section of Brother O’ Brother is Warner Swopes. Despite being a complete madman on stage, Swopes holds all the chaos together with his impeccable knack for keeping a perfect beat. That’s not to say he’s the Martin to Banta’s Lewis. Swopes approach to drumming is a combines Keith Moon’s abrasiveness with the gentle intuition of Brian Chase.
Banta and Swopes are a match made in Heaven’s finest garage.
Neon Native gives Banta and Swopes a little wiggle room to stretch out musically. All of the swampy blues rock that made Show Pony special, is here in all its glory. Guitars are crunchy and thick, playing both lead and rhythm simultaneously. Drums are crisp and fat, sometimes battling the over-the-top vocals for the spotlight (like any crazy drummer should). But the experimentation is what makes the album unique.
“16 Flowers” gives us a glimpse into the rarely seen punk side of Brother O’ Brother. It would be next to impossible to listen to this song while driving and not get a speeding ticket. “Sunshine” flirts with Collective Soul-esque power pop. “White Noise” fuses an acoustic country riff with an almost hypnotic kick drum. And I don’t even know where to begin with the unexpected “Life On Mars” cover.
Neon Native could be considered a hypothetical proving ground for Brother O’ Brother.
With a million miles, multiple releases, and record sales behind them, Brother O’ Brother uses Neon Native to prove they’re far more exciting than any other blues-rock duo in the indie music scene. The album utilizes the momentum set by Show Pony and tightens up every single element. It’s the same sound we’ve all come to know and love but now expanded upon.
If the already-sold-out RSD variants are any indication, there’s no doubt in my mind there will be plenty of wild versions for sale if physical copies are your thing. Some filled with sand or liquid, some glow, some look like they’re straight out of Norse mythology. Whatever the case may be, Neon Native is clearly one of the most interesting indie releases of the year. It’s the kind of album that makes me even more excited for the future of Brother O’ Brother!
For more information on Brother O’ Brother, including tour dates, please visit them on Facebook
Neon Native will be available on May 26, exclusively through Romanus Records