Review Summary: Brothers shoots for the money.
I have a confession to make: I write my girlfriend love notes plagiarized from mid-level Top 40 artists' lyrics. I know that’s terrible, but it’s just too hard to resist; the performers write – or have others’ write, in some cases – lines just profound enough to not be considered mere clichés yet simple enough to be easily understood by a woman that likes the simple things. She really loves my poems, sonnets, etc., and I love the benefits such odes to her greatness and how much I need
her bring me - but in the end I feel terrible. I’ve tried to give her my own junk, but that never ends very well; and I’ve tried to transition what little talent I have at reviewing albums into some literary move to the art of amor
, but I fail. Anyway, I quit doing such garbage about several months back, partly because I totally stopped listening to the radio, and partly because I became a better person in general. To my dismay, however, yesterday I wrote her a poem that’s contents are completely stolen – the names are not, mind you - from Cary Brother’s new song, “Belong”.
I just couldn’t resist.
Cary Brother’s knack for relating the Relationship
topic is his main redeeming quality as an otherwise run-of-mill adult contemporary artist. That, and he’s so, so
consistent with his material. Rewinding back a few years and you’ll find that his 2007 debut, Who You Are
, was a light, love-longing record that, from front to back, hit all the melodies and minor chords just right, bringing the accessible emotions to many-a-television-and-movie soundtrack, without having made a big hit on the radio format. Despite this relatively small media impact, Cary Brothers has racked up a fair number of Myspace plays – four million, as of recently – and he’s even collaborated with DJ-record producer Tiesto – who has worked with Sigur Ros. His road to renown and acceptance has been slow, surely, but he’s obviously getting there. Second album Under Control
will all but assure this.
Thesis and point of review: Cary Brother’s Under Control
is the mainstreaming of indie-label Who You Are
. The melodies and consistency of those heart-warming songs are still here, but the difference is primarily heard in the sky-high production values. Now, take that at your own risk; in losing some of the rougher edges of his past work, Brothers loses some of his innocence, too, and more importantly for the music in question, long-lasting, staying power. This is clearly a financial move to further cement his potential as an airwave-traffic director – all of which’s attention, in theory and hope, will flow back to his songs. That seeming to be the case, second album Under Control
is aptly titled, crafted in such a way that these piano-chorus-centered radio ballads are fully revolving on a money gimmick and agenda; and you know what? It generally works out in practice for Brother’s benefit.
Opener “Ghost Town” comes custom-tailored with this piano line and chorus hook that’s destined to score Mr. Brother’s a few more spots on evening-set television dramas, as well as will hopefully make a much-needed hit on radio. “Break Off The Bough” and “Alien” are, likewise, the perfecting of a type of Fearless
-male Taylor Swift product; the prior is readying my pen as I type for another stolen love note with lines like, ‘What’s the point of going insane? / Looking for solace but nobody came
’. It’s good to see that Brothers is keeping the focus on what he’s best at – that being, the solemn verse, more passionate chorus routine. The only points where he slips up on us are, however, on the places where we begin to realize
this particular routine he always uses, and how it’s basically just being repeated from song to song on Under Control
For instance, “Someday” borrows The Police’s “Every Breath Youth You Take” intro, but fails to grip and comes off as wishy-washy and too contrived. “Over and Out”, too, is a black spot on an otherwise competent radio-made album. These song actually work to damper the strengths of Under Control
: when you realize the cookie-cutter elements here, you begin to see them in the rest of the album as well. It’s a game that artists like Cary Brothers have been playing for years, where a few homeruns, if that much, come from an album that is often full of these like-minded homerun deviants. In essence, all of the tracks are trying
to be hits here, but only a select number of cuts actually reach their goals. This is another reason why artists such as Mat Kearny and Matt Nathanson are better fit for the radio: they are good at making the track, not the album. Cary Brothers is beginning to fit nicely into such a group of artists.
Even though I have to be careful with which songs I choose to craft my magnificent poems from, Cary Brother’s Under Control
is generally a strong album that carries over the strengths of his past, generally rougher releases into something One Tree Hill and the like will most likely destroy and devour - as well as Billboard too. Much in line with Mat Kearney’s last release, City Of Black & White
, Under Control
is everything a forty-year-old mom wants playing on her radio - the hooks and sentiments are immediate, sweet, and inoffensive; and the music is solemn and dramatic - and for that, with all the future love notes that I can base off these songs aside, Cary Brothers succeeds. Expect to hear more from this guy very soon.