Review: Brother Earth – Positive Haywires

Brother Earth are a collaboration between former Guided By Voices, Circus Devils and Kramies multi-instrumentalist/producer Todd Tobias and The Library Is On Fire vocalist Steve Five. GBV were renowned for racing through songs in double-quick time and Brother Earth perform similar magic here.

Brother Earth Album Cover

The songs within ‘Positive Haywires’ were recorded between 2008 and 2013 and as such the album is all over the place stylistically and apparently sequenced accordingly. ‘Sunny Side Of The Street’ and ‘Cortez The Cuddler’ proffer psychedelic rock and roll in a similar vein to White Album-era Beatles. There’s also ambient pop (‘Lady Of The Lake’), space rock (‘Hidden Valleys (Of Tomorrow)’,’City Of Gold’) and thrilling dEUS-like curiosities to behold (‘Girl With the Crystal Tears’, ‘Claustrophobic Headspace’).

Yet for all the invention, the slower songs perhaps merit the most attention. The first single, the creepy, menacing ‘Out Like A Lion’ makes the spine tingle with its simple brooding melody and Five’s sinister turn. For the similarly eerie likes of ‘When I Have Fears That Cease To Be’, ‘Candles On The Beach’ and ‘Both Meeting Somewhere We’ve Never Been Before’, the twosome’s slow burning tension clearly benefits from the longer song format too.

‘Positive Haywires’ keeps the listener on tenterhooks with its almost disorientating shifts in genre. Yet beneath all the weirdness and experimentation, Tobias and Five find common ground to find music which successfully mines psychedelic gold from both the past and the present.

Web Sites:
Brother Earth Bandcamp
Hidden Shoal Recordings Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Dawn Of The Replicants, dEUS, Guided By Voices

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