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Brother George – Big Piney
A great album does far more than take us to another place; It fits us into someone else’s shoes. Then, after we walk down a stranger’s memory lane for a mile, we realize that their path is a reflection of our own. The Chicago-based Brother George have written us all into the stories of their debut album, Big Piney.
With heartfelt lyrics, dreamy harmonies, and masterful musicianship, it feels like they are showing you a slide show of all your growing pains and triumphs. Their ability to connect on such a deep level with the listener is a powerful force, echoing through all of our memories, shaking them gently back into focus. Yes, they know just how it feels, and it’s comforting to know someone understands.
“So Many Arms to Hold Me,” the first track on the album, gently invites us into introspection with dreamy strums of guitars. Sagan Jacobson’s diverse guitar work and vocal range is made clear by the first song and his voice blends beautifully with Neal Neumann (bass) & Ryan Culbertson’s (rhythm guitar) backing vocals. The always energetic drumming of Zane Scott shines under the lively chorus. Our empathy is gained right away in that honest, universal question:
“Got so many arms to hold me.
Could it really be?
Could it be love?”
The sincerity of Brother George’s lyrics throughout the album’s entirety, acts as a trail throughout the musical landscape that their music crafts with clear continuity. The fork in the road offers enticing routes to the meaning of the song. Sometimes, they speak directly to a character to demonstrate a feeling and we learn from witnessing, such as “Olivia Oh Yeah,” and “Caroline.” It’s as intimate as a letter from a lover when the vocalist’s speak directly to us with that degree of openness.
“Truly Yours,” proves their admirable vulnerability with its love poem lyrics:
“I drink in the street and break my glass.
To hold her hand, I’d walk on it.
To hold her hand,
I’d walk a mile of broken glass.”
Definite nods to Bright Eyes’ & Elliot Smith’s style of heart-in-your-face emotive indie rock are clear in this track. The reference is appreciated.
That ability to mingle with different genres and retain their own signature sound is an impressive quality that adds a subtle depth to their music. “Nothing,” and “Icicles” get downright surfy with their reverberating guitars, groovy bass line, and a little crooning from Jacobson. “Dead Yet” plays on country, piping in with some rocking guitar riffs. An inspired folk mentality blends all the elements which gently aids each song.
Another of Big Piney’s great achievements is its impeccable pacing. The actual progression of tracks had a great deal of thought behind it and one should really listen to the album in it’s original order. Every note, every word, and every swell of music has a special meaning & purpose. That attention to detail is not lost on the kindred spirits who will let the music transport them to the band’s upstairs Chicago apartment. When their catchiest songs inevitably get caught in your head, like “Keep U Mine,” that warm fuzzy feeling of inside jokes with your best friends will radiate from your tapping feet.
Brother George have created a lifetime companion in their heartfelt, exposed, and beautiful debut album. Through their psychedelic-tinted glasses, we can look back on the good times and gaze down the winding road into the uncertain future. With its ebbing harmonies, ever-surprising guitar riffs, crashing cymbals, and stories of real people, Big Piney leaves you with an unshakable optimism. Songwriting like this proves that we are really not so different. Music like this says all those words stuck in our throats, so we might be brave enough to the next time. This is a great pocket album. Place these songs close to you, carry them wherever you go, and whatever situation or place you may be in, one of them will be the perfect score for your feelings.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars!
Album Name: Big Piney
Release Date: August, 2012
Location: Chicago, IL
Band Members: Zane Scott, Neal Neumann, Ryan Culbertson, Sagan Jacobson
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This entry was posted in 2012, 4.5/5 Stars, Albums & Singles, Artists, August, Brother George, Chicago, Cover Story, Featured, Folk-Rock, Genre, Illinois, Indie Folk, Indie Rock, Local, News, North America, Rating, Release Date, Reviews, Rock, United States and tagged Big Piney, Bright Eyes, Brother George, Elliott Smith, Neal Neumann, Ryan Culbertson, Sagan Jacobson, Zane Scott. Bookmark the permalink.