Monday, December 7, 2009

Bowery Boy Blue and Lesser Lights - Now We Will Be Brothers

Ah, Bowery Boy Blue! Despite being located individually all over God's creation, the fearsome foursome sure do make a nice sound when they are in the same room. It's been a good year for the Boys. Their debut full-length Stalk This Myth dropped about a year ago on Space Photo Records to almost universal regard. Short tours over the last year were exceedingly well-received and showed the Boys that are both Blue and of the Bowery to be one hell of a force on the stage. Live, the Stalk songs took on dimensions that the recordings only hinted at, boding well for the band's future.

Now We Will Be Brothers is the product of the last days of the historic Looking Glass Studios in NYC. Bowery Boy Bluesmen Zeb Gould and Sam Crawford brought Lesser Lights proprietor Nate Baker to see the space while the SF-based Lesser Lights proprietor was in town playing shows. As luck would have it, the fabled Studio A was open for the afternoon and BBB ended up backing Baker for the two tracks that appear here. It seems to have been a happy coincidence for both parties. Bowery Boy Blue play wonderfully, but their backing is unobtrusive to say the least. Crawford adds wonderful vocal backing to the opening Waving At Trains That No Longer Run, but for the most part the Lesser Lights tracks feel a little bit more solo songwriter. Baker's vocals here show a warm sonority that is equal parts unsettling and engaging. Think Mark Kozalek or Kurt Wagner, maybe Tim Barry on an exceedingly good day. The two Now We Will Be Brothers tracks are a nice introduction and I like what I hear. Suffice to say, I'm excited to hear the EP that I hear is coming in the new year.

At the inception of Bowery Boy Blue, Zeb Gould arguably filled the role Baker holds in Lesser Lights, wherein he would bring songs to the table and flesh them out with players as needed. It lent a Jason Molina meets Neil Young vibe to the proceedings that was wonderful to listen to, but didn't do justice to the BBB live sound. The last couple of years have found Bowery Boy Blue coalescing into a band and fostering a new direction that incorporates a lot more Pixies/Cake rock quirk into the sound. The two songs here show both sides of the band. Now We Will Be Brothers shows more of the early sound, with violin and steel adding texture. It's wonderful, but the closing Give 'Em What They Want melds an arpeggiated guitar riff to a gritty lead that should make waves in eardrums from dorm rooms to home theater systems all over. It is a track that lives up to its name.

As does the record's title. Now We Will Be Brothers pairs two great up and comers in Bowery Boy Blue and Lesser Lights. These are artists that are two sides of a single coin, players that come closest to capturing whatever is still relevant in the increasingly nebulous term that is Americana. Now We Will Be Brothers is American music in the truest sense, combining classic elements of folk, rock and country music with the alternative sounds of their collective youths to form something beautiful and new. You would be foolish not buy this. Get Now We Will Be Brothers from your favorite digital retailer or grab a hard copy from the good folk of Space Photo Records. Tell 'em JS-NYC sent you. Look forward to both parties being out on the road in the new year and keep an ear out for the second Bowery Boy Blue record coming next year.


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