Brother O’ Brother, Song of the Day: “Unleavened”

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Bring in the new year with some wild rock energy from local Indy duo Brother O’ Brother.

Happy New Year Lemonwire readers! With a new year comes a time to pause and reflect on our lives. And a new decade gives us the opportunity to look back on the past ten years, and look ahead to the next. But once you’re done reflecting, we all know it’s time to muster up some energy to tackle those new reservations. And what better way to do that than by listening to a song by one of the most energetic bands that Indy has to offer?

There’s a lot to be said about Brother O’ Brother. So before we get into our song of the day, here’s a little more information on them, for anyone who may not be familiar with them.

Brother O’ Brother

Brother O’ Brother is a garage rock duo based in Indianapolis that fuses together the genres of gospel, delta blues, and heavy rock into their sound. Basically, Brother O’ Brother is two guys, and a lot of rock. Chris Banta brings the fuzz-filled guitar and roaring vocals, while drummer Warner Swopes bangs out the rhythm. It’s a simple yet effective formula that works wonders for Brother O’ Brother.

Similarly to The Black Keys, Banta and Swopes have found success by keeping their lineup simple, and their output relentless. For the better part of the decade, Brother O’ Brother have been pumping out quality material through a number of labels including Fonoflo, Grimtale, and Romanus Records. Their first release was a twenty-eight minute live track that came out in 2014, “Live At MSM”. In the same year, Brother O’ Brother released their self-titled, debut album.

Since then, Brother O’ Brother has had over ten additional releases of albums, EPs, singles, and collaborations. Their sophomore album, “Show Pony” released in 2015, followed by “Neon Native” in 2017. In 2018, Brother O’ Brother put out their most recent project, the EP “Monster Truck”. And just earlier last year, they released the single “Cyborg” for another upcoming album.

Unleavened

“Unleavened” is the opening track on the “Monster Truck” EP, and it opens with a bang. The extreme fuzz hits you right away with a steady beat behind it, and Banta’s raw vocals front and center. There’s nothing extremely revolutionary happening in almost anything Brother O’ Brother brings for most of the song, but they sure do know how to nail that heavy rock mixed with delta blues sound.

There is something interesting that happens a little over halfway through the track. The fuzz dies out, and the track skips to what sounds like a different song. Here we get light fuzz and arpeggios with no drums, and Banta takes the opportunity to get up on his soapbox and preach. There’s some gospel influence here in the progression, as well as in the lyrics (kind of). “Let me be clear / Hold your loved ones dear / Everyone has religion in a foxhole they say / But these world leaders are trying / Trying to play wack-a-mole with your very soul”.

The tone takes a drastic turn to reveal a more angry Banta after the guitar cuts out and he belts out, “Well holy terror sure has a way of fighting evil / And say hello!”

After this interesting refrain, “Unleavened” jumps back into its heavy, fuzz-filled riff, this time accompanied by background vocals going “Ooh!”, “Ah!”. This outro rides out for the last thirty seconds or so of the song as Banta takes a solo.

Final Thoughts

Overall, “Unleavened” is a solid addition to Brother O’ Brother’s catalog of songs. There are a few surprises in there, but for the most part, the duo sticks to their tried and true formula. Luckily for them, its a formula that people still can’t get enough of, myself included. I’m a sucker for heavy blues and rock.

If you enjoyed listening to “Unleavened”, you can hear more of Brother O’ Brother’s EP, “Monster Truck” on Bandcamp. To find out more about Brother O’ Brother, you can find them on Facebook.

Finally, for more coverage on the Indy music scene, be sure to check out the LemonWire Music Corner, where we’re showcasing local Indianapolis artists from the community.

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