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BROTHERS REID Top Of The Old Road Fat Hippy Records FH57 REID2 (2011)

Brothers Reid

Brothers Reid belong to that small but perfectly formed cadre of Brit bands who pour all their considerable creativity into harmony laden west coast rock. Their beautifully blended 3 part harmony led sound is never better captured than on the post psychedelic drone of 'Roll On', a track that firmly anchors the band somewhere between Crosby Stills & Nash, Celtic folk/rock and Oasis (don't laugh).

'Top Of The Old Road' is a work of real beauty, natural feel and a celebration of three part harmonies as an exhilarating extension of the instruments. The voices gently rise, float and expand before gently descending and caressing a succession of meandering melodies and long luscious lines that fill the room with a west coast retro feel. This is no more so than on 'Let You Down' as Brothers Reid come close to a long forgotten CS&N outtake, save for the beautiful fiddle line from Rory Commerford. In fact it's a song that contains the band's core tenets of pristine vocals and an understated exploratory instrumental sway, plus in this case an effective twice repeated vocal line in a perfect bridge between 70's West Coast folk-rock and now!

There's also an ever present Celtic feel that always gives the band an extra option. And when they do explore beyond the vocals they imperceptibly segue the number into an adventurous instrumental passage.

'Farmboy Blues' is almost a vehicle for a beautifully nuanced vocal exercise in which words become stretched and vocal swoops drag the verses hither and thither, before (presumably) Michael Reid's guitar expands the piece to its perfect resolution. Then there's the slide intro and Celtic jig feel of 'City Lights' with its distant pounding marching drum, though at times its hard to tell who is doing what as the instrumental work is so closely compressed. But you suspect this is exactly what the band wants allowing the voices to mix into the basic track.

The strength of 'Top Of The Road' lies in the way the band lets the music breathe. The vocals may be an integral part of the arrangement but each song is approached differently though at times there is a distant link between the tracks as on the 'call and response' work and chiming mandolin of 'The Getaway' and the vocal tableau of 'Flea Circus' with its train time drums.

The end result is that the slightest musical drift or nuance is always pursued to its conclusion often pushing a song into an unexpected direction. And when the vocal wash and instruments intermesh as on 'Roll On' the end result is an undulating psychedelic drone, hence the reference to Oasis.

The band fleetingly eschew their wall of sound and rock out on the tension breaking manic rhythms of 'Three Minute Slow Down' albeit once again the track is gradually glued together by a slowly evolving vocal part, before they reconstruct the rhythmic intensity with accompanying whoops, hollers and violin. As on much of the album the production is a mix of the heavily compressed and the claustrophobic, with the close to the mic voices in sharp contrast to the mixed back instrumentation, allowing the band to create a drone like wall of sound that sometimes become interchangeable with the voices.

They finish with the title track, a slide and harp driven Zappa influenced boogie were it not for another subtle vocal palette.

Despite the albatross of a name, Brothers Reid bring something new and vibrant to the music scene. All nine tracks are packed with sparkle, drive, energy, feel and three part harmonies that bring an unexpected touch of class to 9 tracks of real substance. 'Top Of The Old Road' is worth ordering and you suspect there's plenty of more good stuff to come from this exciting new Scottish outfit.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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