Let me start this with a disclaimer for readers outside of America. The band is trying to work out a way to make the vinyl and shipping costs affordable for everyone around the world so vinyl is currently only shipping to addresses in America. The band has made a digital two-song single available around the world so I will highlight which songs they are in the review. Hopefully, a label in Europe will step forward for distribution, or the band will make the entire album available digitally. Now, let’s talk about the actual music here.
The Brothers Steve break down the door of the power pop genre with some tasty nuggets influences incorporated at times to make it a bit more rock n roll. These songs really harken back to a different time when life was much more streamlined. I am thinking of minimal television stations with no cable or satellite. You didn’t know what calls you missed while you were away from home and didn’t stress about it. I keep wondering if I went back through American Bandstand if I could find The Brothers Steve playing on the show in some weird time travel paradox. These songs are packed with hooks, diversity, and instant accessibility. They have made a favorable debut album that improves with each listen.
‘Angeline’ (digital single track) gets started with a great up tempo vibe that gets some crunch from the rhythm section of Jeff Solomon (bass) and Coulter (drums). Os Tyler’s vocals remind me almost of a cross between Robin Zander and Jeff McDonald of Redd Kross with the high pitch giving the songs an immediate identity. Jeff Whalen and Dylan Champion both provide guitars and vocals for the band. If you are thinking you know the majority of the musicians here from somewhere else, you would be correct as they at times sound like TSAR as well. ‘Angeline’ representing one of the prime examples, but the guitars also feature some great acoustic work in the mix that makes the song a little softer but just as addictive. Having some confidence (and a dash of arrogance) can work very well for bands with the self-assured ‘We Got the Hits’ coming next. The tempo stays firmly rocking with the diversity of vocals in the chorus creating a cool catchy refrain that would not be out of place on an early Bangles album or the Go-Go’s. ‘She’ comes from a pool of power pop purity with the glossy lead vocals getting some great layered backing vocals from the band. This is a straight forward acoustic track that could have come straight from the late 60’s or 70’s. It has also been a song that has slowly grown on me with each listen. While listening in the car the first few times, this one had a way of passing me by, but this one will get you in time.
The other digital single ‘Carolanne’ slows the pace for a great ballad that was my introduction to the album and created my excitement for wanting to review the album. The acoustic guitar and vocals draw the listener in closer for the first verse before the rest of the guys join to propel it forward. The harmonies are fantastic, and this song should find a place in a summer blockbuster film that carries it (and the band) over to the mainstream. Wrapping up the first half of the album, ‘C’mon Pappy’ brings a harder edge at the beginning before giving way to an uplifting acoustic rocker that again recalls the nuggets of yesterday. It provides a great close to side one and gets the listener excited to flip the album over for what comes next.
‘Songwriter’ keeps the tempo fast and loose with Redd Kross coming to mind. The harmonies shine again, but this is one of the songs with extra bite in the music. It ends all too quickly with an instant transition to the glossy sheen of ‘Carry Me’ leaving me to wonder why artists like Matthew Sweet and the Posies never hit the mainstream big time. While not my favorite song on the album, it is still enjoyable and does not overstay its welcome. ‘Good Deal of Love’ gives off a loose jangly feel with a chorus that mines the same territory that the Gin Blossoms do. The vocals are stunning, and I would love to see this one also become a single in the future. This stands as my favorite from the record right now.
The descriptive ‘Beat Generation Poet Turned Assassin’ constantly makes me think there is an old Beatles movie out there with this song featured in it. This one carries more distortion than most of the songs here. I just wish there was a bit more to the chorus than the title repeated as it loses something in its execution. The acoustic opening strum of album closer ‘Sunlight’ provides a welcoming texture that really feels like the early rays of a sunrise washing over you, which is the ultimate in ironies as the lyrics are completely counter where the person is instead welcoming the darkness and solitude of staying at home. It provides a solid close to the album that makes the listener want to spend more time with these songs.
The Brothers Steve have taken their years of experience to create a very enjoyable album that has awesome harmonies and hooks while also retaining some crunch. This album has been a grower which might actually have more to do with me initially looking for something more akin to ‘Calling All Destroyers’ by TSAR than the material here. If you live outside of America, this might be a great time to make an American friend who can buy and ship the album to you, or you might reach out to some of the distribution companies over there and ask them to get a licensing deal to press it in Europe. In the meantime, grab the digital single and introduce some sunshine into your summer listening.
‘#1’ is released on vinyl on July 27th Here
Author: Gerald Stansbury