The blues-rock, power duo has become somewhat of a cliche in the rock n roll scene in the past ten or fifteen years. The combination of chunky, pentatonic guitar, growling vocal and kick heavy drums have become to this generation what hairspray and neo classical shredding was to the 80s. After the White Stripes, it’s easy to say The Black Keys have held the keys of the hipster kingdom within the indie blues rock scene, being indie enough to keep their core fan base happy, but mainstream enough to bask in commercial glory. Understanding that might make one a bit apprehensive when it comes to checking out yet another mid-western duo. However any doubt or preconceptions of the sub-genre that previously may have clouded your judgment, vanish in thin air once you give Brother O’ Brother’s Show Pony it’s first spin on your record table.
From Show Pony‘s opening track The Itch, you will hear all of the indie-garage-blues-rock ingredients that’s found in nearly all records of the sub genre, but the big difference being here is authenticity. While bands like The Black Keys are going through a check list of things they have to employ to stay relevant among their target audience, like ‘must have the skinniest jeans’ or ‘must hate every other indie-blues-rock band’, Brother O’ Brother is focused on what’s important to each song on the set list, and delivering on all accounts.
Even though there is plenty of the proverbial chunky pentatonic guitar riffs, and kick heavy beats throughout the record, it’s met with a handful of other influences such as the free-form poise of Jimi Hendrix to the artistic vulnerability of Beck, maybe even a hint of skate punk, like in the song Blood & Cigarettes. With a palette of scattered influences across the board, paired with standard features, Brother O’ Brother still manage to come as a breath of fresh air. The entire album is straight to the point with no down time whatsoever. Clocking in at just under 35 minutes, there isn’t much room for any filler or padding. In fact, upon my first listen, I was little sad to find that I had already burned through both sides of the record. That’s the sign of a good album when it makes you beg for more. The entire record plays like a set list of an opening act who know they are far greater than the band they are opening for, and prove it by ripping through their catalog at a hungry, make-or-break speed, going for broke.
Aside from being one of the more interesting bands to come out of the midwest, they are also one of the busiest. Within a year’s time Brother O’ Brother, have toured the country, put out two full length records, and EP and are hard at wok at yet another project as you are reading this. This sort of drive showcases the kind of passion that most garage bands seem to lose earlier in their career. With that brand of confidence and urgency, this band is getting ready take on much more than what the middle of The United States has to offer.
On the release front, Show Pony is available on vinyl in limited quantities and multiple color records with screened album sleeve variants, making each and every copy of the album personal and collector ready. I own the orange variant not only is the record fantastic to listen to, but it’s also very cool to display. Even though Show Pony
is available to purchase digitally via Bandcamp it’ basically begs to be heard on vinyl. The DIY nature of the album is greatly enhanced by such a classic format of warmth and beauty. Guitars are heavy, but not muddy, vocals (even when distorted) are balanced without being buried in discord mix. Overall Show Pony is one of the finest rock records of 2015 and maybe one the best indie blues rock albums to be released in over a decade, in a genre that loses it’s excitement with every beer commercial. Brother O Brother is a band that I know we will see around for quite a while.
Download Show Pony as well as previous works, on the band’s Bandcamp
Like Brother O’ Brother on Facebook
Buy Show Pony on limited edition vinyl, in multiple color variants on their official store