Brave Tin Soldiers
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Brave Tin Soldiers

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Black Snow Angels EP is the debut release from Chicago-based Alt Rock band Brave Tin Soldiers. For the time being, the band is still unsigned (noted on their MySpace that they would like to change this). The band is made up of long-time friends guitar player Pete Alexander, bass player Jason Kedsch, and drummer Patrick Szczypinski.



Track listing:
1. Paranoia from Insomnia
2. Ruby Drops
3. Breathe
4. Black Snow Angels

The EP itself is quite short, but it is an EP so I expected nothing more in terms of length. The band says in their bio that they “take cues from Muse, Radiohead, and Steroephonics” - this is very easy to hear. Don’t worry, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It definitely works very well to their advantage, especially given the timbre of Pete’s vocals. Most of the vocal lines seem as though they could have been written by Thom Yorke or Matthew Bellamy, but somehow still manage to be quite unique. During the song “Breathe” however, they have a very “glam rock” vocal feel, straight out of the ‘80 sunset strip stuff.

The next item up for bids is the guitar work (also Pete). This is VERY different from the styles of the vocals, which is refreshing. At times I hear something like the Smashing Pumpkins, at other times it floats around to some old Radiohead guitar, and also hits the Muse style repetitive picking melodies (each one of these is represented quite well in the song “Black Snow Angels”). For there being only one guitarist, the guitar parts are very full. I am not sure whether to attribute this to great writing, great production, or both. The dynamic and change in tone/timbre of the guitar is fantastic on this EP. It matched perfectly with what the bass is doing at every moment without mirroring them, or stealing the bass player’s spotlight (one of the bonuses of a three-piece band). Speaking of the bass player, Jason did not have a whole lot of spot light as far as technical bass playing goes, but he always have groove to spare. This extra groove goes for miles in the song “Paranoia from Insomnia” and moves the track along (the only instance I noticed where the bass line was the driving force).

The drumming on the album is average. This could be due to many things, however. This style of music does not lend itself kindly to impressive technical playing, nor does it lend itself to very creative drum sections without strange time signatures or phrasing (neither of which I noticed on the EP). The drums to their job, and do it well. They sound good, and don’t ever steal the thunder from the great melodies. Patrick does a great job at doing what needs to get done, and nothing more.

All in all, this EP excites me a lot. The band is currently in the studio recording their second release, and first full-length album. From the great potential I hear oozing out of this EP, their debut album should be a good one, and should aid them in finding a label.

Track pick: “Black Snow Angels”

Overall Score: 8/10
(Sorry, not metal enough for my usual devil horns, and I could not think of an item to represent this style of music)

For anyone interested, check out their myspace. You can get the EP for free, or pay $3.00 to a good cause and get it. I highly recommend it. - Jordan Munson


nterview with members of Brave Tin Soldiers
By TONY MARTIN
Brave Tin Soldiers are quietly becoming one of DeKalb's most prolific rock bands. Aside from their gigs in places like Phoenix to Chicago, they find their way out to DeKalb enough to frequent Otto's and the House Cafe.

The three-piece band features Peter Alexander on guitar, his brother Pat Szczypinski on drums, and NIU alumnus Jason Kedsch on bass.

Formed in 2006 as a one-man project for Alexander, Brave Tin Soldiers put out a self-titled EP with their old lead singer who has since left the band. They also re-recorded without him, and their newest release, the "Black Snow Angels EP" is four tracks of self-produced rock and roll. The release itself can be found for free at any Brave Tin Soldiers show.

I arrive with the band to a small office in the middle of a corporate office park in Schaumburg to watch them practice for Thursday night's gig at The House Cafe, opening for the Rikters. The guys tune up and discuss how they will incorporate a new platform into their set – a box with the band's name on it and a light coming out from inside.

"It's our 'ego box,'" Alexander said, "You can obviously see we are down-to-earth guys."
He laughs as we discuss guitar solo possibilities.

Shortly after, the guys plug in and are ready to go. Kedsch and Alexander practice their two-part harmonies on a song called "Breathe," a song that would fit in perfectly with the first Muse record.

Throughout their rehearsal, the band absolutely tore through their set list, playing songs both new and old with an intensity reserved for rooms with more than one person in them. Pat's drums shook the walls of the entire building; Jason's bass grooved and thudded at the same time, and Pete's guitar howled as he ripped through some of his face-melting solos.

Afterwards, the sweaty guys were willing to talk with me a little bit about their band.

Northern Star: What do you feel is the Brave Tin Soldiers' dynamic, and how do each of you fit in?
Jason Kedsch: I like to think that since we all listen to different styles of music, we all have to keep in mind what everyone else is doing. Pat somehow always manages to be a strong backbone and still be creative, while Pete throws together outlines of songs and we all have to decide how to create something as individuals that works for the big picture.

NS: What was the worst gig you ever played?
All (in unison): The Red Line Tap in Chicago.
Kedsch: The other bands were terrible.
Alexander: Nobody came out, either.
Szczypinski: Also, nobody got drunk, which was a disappointment. Since nothing really bad has happened to us, this was the worst because there was no energy in the entire room. As Jagerbomb drinkers (endorsement deal?), we expect a certain level of rowdiness from the crowd as much as they do of us. It was not there that night, so everybody suffered.

NS: Why should NIU spend its Thursday night with Brave Tin Soldiers?
Alexander: NIU is essentially a home gig for us, and the line-up is amazing, but there is never any other place around where you can get the same amount of rock and roll for your money than the House Cafe.

NS: What CDs will be in the BTS van on the way to the show?
Szczypinski: The album "Wisconsin Death Trip" by Static-X. It is just relentless ... it is energy in its most condensed form.
Alexander: The new Ours record is fantastic. It was produced by Rick Rubin, who just turned it into a great sounding record.
Kedsch: I would have to say it would be Fugazi's "The Argument." There is no band I would rather listen to right before we go on stage than Fugazi.

NS: Closing statements, sell me on Brave Tin Soldiers.
Jason: Who wants to get their face rocked? Oh, and bring girls.
Szczypinski: When you leave our show, you will take it with you.
[Alexander waits a few seconds, and collects his thoughts]
Alexander: We have egos, but only when the time is right. On stage, it is all attitude. We want to make you listen to us, to look at us and to love us. Rock and roll is just a state of mind, so dress however you want, drink whatever you want and do whatever you want. It may just be an attitude, but we know that we've got it. - Tony Martin - NIU Northern Star


Discography

Brave Tin Soldiers - EP
Black Snow Angels EP
Black Snow Angels

Photos

Bio

Brave Tin Soldiers is a Chicago based rock/alt rock trio consisting of long-time friends guitar player Pete Alexander, bass player Jason Kedsch, and drummer Patrick Szczypinski.

Taking cues from such bands as Muse, Stereophonics, and Radiohead, Brave Tin Soldiers brings energy and excellent songwriting back to the spotlight with a heavy hitting rhythm section and piercing and unrelenting melodies. BTS brings a seriously thick tone to many of their songs and tastefully blends dynamics, sections of all out power and drive, and torn down sections of songs to make a truly unique and well thought out kind of musical experience. Their live show is truly something to behold. Where most trios find it difficult to provide a full sound without using programmed backing tracks, BTS is able to give the listener a complete bombardment of sound while being able to utilize the trio size to give heavy weight to dynamics and raw sound.

This band brings the rock.