World Cafe

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Middle Brother - Middle Brother - Partisan

Just about a year ago, word of the indie-rock collaboration that would evolve into the band Middle Brother began to make some noise – literally. After a performance at last year’s SXSW festival, we learned that Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) and John McCauley (Deer Tick) had more in store for us beyond their one-off jam session. The three band leaders had actually been writing material for what would soon become the band’s debut album Middle Brother. Carving out some time this winter/spring, the three will release their first album and hit the road for the first time as Middle Brother.

It’s fair to say, musically speaking, that each member brings their distinct personality to the collection. All three play on each other’s songs, and if you’re familiar with the work of any of their three bands it’s not difficult to draw the line to who penned which songs. With that said, the album resists favoring one songwriter over another. The balance in both the quantity of material and the actual performance across the board is stellar. “Daydreaming,” the album’s first song, is one of McCauley’s contributions. For fans of Deer Tick, McCauley’s vocal growl is unmistakable, and even sweetened up a bit with harmonies from Goldsmith on this lullaby for a hangover. Speaking of Goldsmith, his shining moment comes in the pensive “Blood and Guts” that marinates to perfection over its 6 minute run. For Vasquez, the Delta Spirit frontman brings a little old soul to the collaboration with his doo-woppy “Someday.”

With each member invested to their respective bands, it’s hard to imagine that Middle Brother will progress further beyond this collection. With that said, it’s rare to three rising stars take on a passion project at this point in their careers – with the stress on the passion part. That’s what makes Middle Brother. perhaps most compelling. There’s a simplicity here that boils down to three prolific young songwriters (who admire each other’s work) making music together for the sake of just that, making music. And that’s welcomed.