Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Southern Black Sheeps

Long-haired, good-humoured, not interested in taking it all too seriously. Also noteworthy: capable of tearing down any hole-in-the-wall bar with their knee-slapping energy and blunt, comedic Southern stories. That, in a nutshell, seems to be Middle Brother.

I recently stumbled upon this band and grew more interested in them after checking out their live Rolling Stone session which included punchy commentary, collaborative country vocals and dirt-road acoustic melodies. These guys have what it takes to leap onto the alt-country bandwagon that's making runs across national borders on an hourly basis these days.

A lighthearted mix of jangly Bob Dylan-style folk and Band of Horses plain narrative, this wild country jamboree is made up of Americana musicians and songwriters John J. McCauley III of the Deer Tick, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit.

A few tunes worth discovering are "Blue Eyes" (below), a Southern love song about a 'good girl who wears black bras' that picks up with summertime strums and strained, soul-searching country vocals piled on top of each other. Happy acoustic licks dance alongside the lyrics, “Just to look at you makes my heart skip/ And to think of you, it does jumping jacks/ Told myself you’re the one and I told you I could get you back/ …I’m so tired of runnin’.”

Middle Brother” seems like a running joke between a group of wrestling country brothers or a lazy jam for some down-south sweltering road trip. Coats of warm vocals and playful bar brawling acoustic riffs lead the way as they tell us about learning to fly a plane, getting good grades and making Mama proud.

Thanks for Nothing” is, as they put it, ‘a song about damaged goods’ sung through stripped down Wilco or Griffin House-reminiscent vocals. Backed by a melancholy and lonely hook, this vulnerable song about parting ways is for when the party dies down, the bar lights come on and the truth comes out. “I got off the plane OK, and now I have the city to myself.” A pretty thought, but a sad one.

To bake up a little taste of country goodness as the weather warms up, check out their self-titled debut full-length, available in stores and on their website now.

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