Full disclosure: I have a big soft spot for stringed instruments. The bigger, the better. And the April 2014 album from Feedbands includes one very large, very present upright bass. It’s just beautiful.
The band, Brother Grand, is a duo consisting of two multi-instrumentalists, and this album, Live from the Burning Room, is, well, live which I initially thought to be risky; there are a lot of variables in a live recording, and it’s all too easy to get a messy sound with high frequencies fuzzing out and vocals getting lost, flaws which a vinyl medium would only highlight. But that doesn’t happen in this case. At all. Better still, the best things about live recordings—the energy, the sense of space, the natural echo—all serve to make this album extremely effective on vinyl.
I was hooked with the opening track, “Record High,” a meandering seven-minutes-and-change composition that opens with simple keyboard chords, then adds layers of heart-wrenching and soulful melodies played on a bowed bass. And then, two minutes in, it pulls a total “Who Killed Tangerine” and seamlessly bounces into a jaunty blues tune with tambourine jangles and vocals that can go from sustained and soaring to rough and gritty, each style as effective as the other.
On some level, Brother Grand sounds like they could be a jam band with the way they go rollicking from genre to genre via multi-looped bridges, but there’s a structure, an intention, that is obviously not improvised. Both band members are obviously exceptionally talented. I’m not sure from Feedbands’s letter if either of them has had formal music training, but for what it’s worth, they sound better than some Berklee School of Music grads I know.
The record is an opaque, marbled mauve called “Purple Haze.” It coordinates quite nicely with the soft Instagrammy cover art. What I love most about this vinyl is that you can look closely at the grooved patterns and see where the music changes. You can see where one genre leads into the next. You can see the absence of a break between the second and third tracks, how one just runs into the next.
Overall, this album is complex yet simple, detailed yet spacious, rambling yet intentional—it’s a pile of delicious contradictions and definitely a new favorite.
Live from the Burning Room by Brother Grand is available at the Feedbands store in 180g Purple Haze (shown here) and standard weight black.