Review Summary: Kick ass rockin' tunes.
In "old" times(as far as Rock and Roll is considered) it wasn't uncommon to have a full band all capable of writing songs, rather than just one "genius" spearheading the entire project which you tend to see a lot more of in current music. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young were all brilliant songwriters who each brought their own flavor of music to the table, and the entirety of the rest of the band would adhere; only to add more personal flair to make a unified and beautiful final product. Brook and River clearly took note of this on their debut LP Inside Voices
. Like the greats before them, both Grady Bell and Michael Hiller write their own song, reflective of their own personalities, and having the other add a dash of greatness to the skeleton of said song. Sean Erickson is the ideal drummer for Brook and River as he clearly understands when to play the understated rhythm when it calls for it, rather than just beating the hell out of his toms in an effort to be heard; yet he has his moments throughout that are clearly technically precise and intelligently written.
Inside Voices begins with a single acoustic guitar spanned across both sides of your headphones creating an instantly intriguing and haunting melody. Like many of their songs, there is an additional other instrumental touch added just at the right moment to create a swelling crescendo of guitar, trumpet, and vocals. The title track is an excellent foreshadowing of the rest of the album, as it displays a fun yet experimental approach to the indie genre. It is clear and honest songwriting, not masked by reverb heavy vocals and silly metaphors about foxes and birds.
Throughout the album the main vocalist position is traded off between Grady and Michael, with five songs fronted by Michael and three by Grady; a clever approach seeing as they both have unique voices, but harmonize with the other spectacularly. Michael's songs possess a more dreary sound with a droning and thin sounding guitar, commonly obeying classic song form of either AB or ABC, which provides a poppy catchiness but without the fluff or monotony of indie-pop bands. Both Lucy and Shadow Gallery are carried by Michael's vocals and are the best examples of the "Michael songs" on the album. Lucy is a haunting tune about yearning for a past love, but dealing with the present in an effort to forget the past. The chorus is a simple yet "ba-ba-ba" vocal instrumentation, sure to get stuck in your head for days on end. The guitar solo is an incredibly identifiable sound to Michael's playing, one that is based around the melody of the song yet cleverly alters it to add a wonderful contrast to the song. Grady's songs on the other hand have an entirely different feel than Michael's. He seldom uses classic song form (except on Blue Daniel), he leans more toward a clever continuity of where the song sounds like it naturally has
to go. Grady's talents lie in his unbelievable matchup of both song and lyricism. The songs The Song of Lonely Me
and Free Me, Queen Bee
have a delightful jingle-jangle feel to them, both with incredible displays of mood and tone. Free Me, Queen Bee
is a brilliant tune about misleading a girl and yourself into thinking that you felt much more for her than you ever truly did a situation anyone under the sun can relate to. The chorus "My God/Sweet fraud/I miss my time alone." says it all, it's the horrible schizophrenia that comes with the feeling of stringing a seemingly perfect lover along.
The entirety of the band are incredible musicians on their respective instruments. Michael is a phenomenal guitarist as displayed on The Song of Lonely Me with his clever country influenced solo work, or in Collector's Box with the fun yet messy solo that ties together the fun feel of the tune. Grady displays his excellent bass and piano work on the songs Blue Daniel and Vacancy, with understated yet carefully crafted melodies that just add a perfect dynamic to each song. Sean is consistent and incredibly solid throughout, with every song showcasing his talent and clear attention to what the songs moods are designed to be, making Collectors Box and Vacancy incredibly fun listens. Each song is entirely different on Inside Voices
and the only fault is that there are just eight, and there could be twenty and I'd still want more. Brook and River did it ever so right, adding an excellent addition to the already great 2010 roster of albums. Listen to this album, it is well worth your time.
The Song of Lonely Me
Free Me, Queen Bee