With a psychedelic sixties-style logo it’s no great stretch of the imagination to think that The Brew’s name derives from the Cream classic Strange Brew. Indeed such is the power of band logos you can often imagine what a band will sound like before you’ve even heard a single bar of music. With their new album Control set for release on 20th February 2014, will my suspicion that the music held within will be dripping with retro chic and psychedelic overtones be proved correct or have I been lured into a false sense of expectation?
One of the first things that strike me about the tracklist is that the names of the songs are all commands that can be found on any digital media device. I suppose this also alludes to the overbearing and all encompassing album title “control”, maybe there’s a hidden message in there somewhere? Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it? Regardless of my overactive mind track one, Repeat provides me with a reassuring sound that confirms my earlier hunch that this band sound exactly like the way they style themselves. Packed full of big sounding drums, thick guitars and blues rock vocals the song tumbles and crashes through a soundscape of colour, name-checking more modern bands such as Tracer, Rival Sons and Ocean Colour Scene along the way.
Eject could be an dire hint to stop listening and move onto something else but I can happily report that this couldn’t be further from the truth. It packs a similar punch to it’s predecessor but with a heavier and more pronounced guitar riff. Again Mute could trigger a subconscious action to kill the volume but if you did you’d be missing out on sparkling guitars, driving drum track and memorable melody line that in places reminds me of The Seahorses and The Charlatans.
Pause brings out a more progressive vibe in the band with more time spent concentrating on creating atmospheric blues rock music not unlike Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac. Shuffle picks up some late Beatles inspiration not least from the repetitive but bewitching bassline. Despite trying I could find no hidden message when I played Fast Forward on, er, fast-forward but played at normal speed you can hear bands such as Jet and Crispian Mills post-Kula Shaker band The Jeevas scattered throughout.
By now my running joke of trying to find hidden messages within these songs may be starting to wear a bit thin but track 7, Skip is one to do just that; forward it onto the next one. It’s not that it’s offensive in anyway it’s just that by now what a great album really needs is something that surprises you rather than deliver more of the same. Unfortunately despite a rather promising intro Skip is indeed a ‘more of the same’ skippable filler track.
Just as I prepare to press Stop as my ears begin to fatigue of the same sound, track 8 (yes it is indeed called ‘Stop’) eerily anticipates my predicament and lavishes my ears with a sumptuous acoustic guitar driven track. It may be short and sweet but it does confirm that The Brew aren’t just a one trick poney. Play however is more of the same again but holds it’s own with a strong melody line and memorable lyrics that, presumptively, name check the bands heroes.
The final track Rewind has no hidden message if you do indeed play it in reverse (yes I did try just that) but does cap off a strong album with another track where the acoustic guitar is the star. Control is a good album that, while cliched, delights with good production, strong musicianship and a drum track that tips a nod to Ginger Baker. The Brew make much more noise than their three-piece set up belies.
Released: 20th February 2014
01 – Repeat (single)
02 – Eject
03 – Mute
04 – Pause
05 – Shuffle
06 – Fast Forward
07 – Skip
08 – Stop
09 – Play
10 – Rewind
The Brew are:
Jason Barwick – Guitar, Vocals
Kurtis Smith – Loud Drums
Tim Smith – Bass, Vocals
Control is a good album that, while cliched, delights with good production, strong musicianship and a drum track that tips a nod to Ginger Baker. The Brew make much more noise than their three-piece set up belies.