The first thing I noticed about this disc when I received it was the highly imaginative cover artwork. Usually, covers are a bland mix of a wavy band photo and something scrawled across the top in Sharpie. This one actually seems to have thought behind it. The whole package is covered in “news stories” and strange catchphrases. A partial picture of Pluto (now demoted from full planet-hood) peeks through and spreads onto the disc itself. Kudos to Kudzu Graphics.
The Bros. Marler call themselves Independent/Alternative/Roots music. While I have major problems with people identifying music as “alternative” or “indie” (those are states of being, not musical genres!) it sort of fits these guys. I’d call them more along the lines of old country rockabilly than anything. Bits of jazz and call and response are thrown in, allowing the Brothers a pretty wide range.
“Devil’s Summer” is a great jazzy start to the album. It’ll grab you and make you sing or at least hum along.
“Promises” starts with Bob Dylanesque harmonica and piano/guitar. Some straining vocals puts you right into the middle of a smoke filled bar on a Thursday night, staring into your drink while your significant other chatters on.
“Little Aries Girl” is an interesting track with a lot of stops and starts, always throwing you off when you think you’ve caught the rhythm. Wonderful vocal work though.
“Kerouac” next. A sparser track with soulful vocals and a return to the Bob Dylan feel. Nothing quite as lyrically satisfying, but okay.
“Doctor’s Orders”. Darker from the squawking guitar. The album artwork really comes into play here. You hear both a supernatural drone in the background while staying rooted with guitar and light percussion. Why does this remind me of Bowie?
“Hurricane” begins with a juuba chant. Sounds like it came from the early Beatles cutting room floor. Then flows back into a harmonic chant for the chorus.
“The Lion’s Share” has more drums than any song so far on the album. Still sounds subdued. Very scratchy washboard guitar and half chanted lead vocals. Sounds great. My favorite from the album.
“Bulletproof Liberty”. Is it a requirement that all American albums have a political song on them now? Regardless, a moody and trippy track.
“Falling From Grace” is where the Brothers show their jam tendencies. Nearly eight minutes of guitar and yelping country vocals. Very Widespread Panic-y. It would benefit by being a little shorter but it’s probably really cool live. Have to make a note about that.
“Flakes” closes the album with a soft guitar ballad. Very nice to listen to. My second favorite on the album.
So, overall rating about 7/10. Recommended for long walks and quiet nights where you need something playing in the background. But that’s just my opinion. Listen for yourself.
Happy Labor Day,