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"Rock Sound Ones to Watch 2010"

This Austin, TX quartet create some the most emotionally involving music Rock Sound has heard in a long time. Their songs are lovingly crafted, blending myriad musical styles in an experimental blissfully ambient fashion; in the likes of "Waal", they know how to rock the fuck out, too. Their debut album will drop through Shelsmusic in April, and they'll hit the studio to record the follow-up in the summer.

For fans of: Joy Division, Sigur Ros, This Will Destroy You - Rock Sound Magazine (UK)

"Black Ice review 1"

Austin TX natives Brother/Ghost cite Low, Fugazi, Slint, Sigur Ros, Dead Texan, A Silver Mt. Zion, Earth, Mt. Eerie, Mogwai, & Xiu Xiu as their main influences. If you like any of those bands as well as Cursive, Gregor Samsa, Autistic Daughters, or "Atmospheric-Gaze Rock" in general you will indeed fall head over heels in-love with Brother/Ghost. "Black Ice", B/G's debut release, was recorded between October 08 to July 09. Currently it is a "name your own price" EP available via the band's website (there is mention of a future 12" release). "Black Ice", IS (also), one of my favorite albums of 2009. ..I'm sitting here with my eyes popped open and jaw dropped while reviewing it (I just listened to it 3 times in a row)..

This album almost feels "ahead of it's time" and I really wouldn't be surprised if this terrific EP goes "unnoticed", I would however be sad (for those of you that missed out). 5-15 years from now people will be looking toward this album as the beginning of a new "era" in "dark" Indie music. If it was at all any form of an "acquired taste" I would say for fans of Eclectic Indie Rock with "dramatic" organ & choral sounds, various orchestrated swells, and never over-bearing, but damn emotional Indie Rock vocals. It's not just "Indie Rock" though, it is a whole new sound, maybe. "Black Ice" begins (and ends) with an epic anthem stating "We've been drinking the water you've been poisoning. We drank ourselves half to death but now were listening" over and over while swells of noise and drone build up. Once track 1 starts the "western" sounding guitar rhythms begin, setting the mood for a catchy, depressing track. The remaining songs build and sway from loud and epic, to relaxing and droney. It's sort of a "Post-Rock" experience, but don't be frightened if that genre bores you. Brother/Ghost make "Post-Rock" interesting again by paying homage to those bands mentioned above, as well as adding their own "flare" of unique/gorgeous/precocious sounds.

Get this album now. It's free, and it's a crime for you to pass up something this good FOR FREE (SWEET EPIC FREEDOM!). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Standout Tracks: ALL. I really like "Baby Sharks Pt. One".. -

"Black Ice review 2"

Befitting of their gloom (and ironically enough, their location), I fell in love with Black Ice the first weekend that the sunny, heat-scorching weather Austin had been touting for weeks finally gave way to three days of typical Texas-sized bouts of downpour. The days leading up to this weekend had been particularly lovely so the surprise and enormity of Zeus’ fury kept most of us confined to our balconies, watching the grass turn to marsh. Considering the blur the last month has been, transitioning from a suburban bubble befitting of Deerhunter’s “Nothing Ever Happened” to a vibrant metropolis brimming with, you know, people and stuff to do, the welcome shun from the rest of the world gave the more humble of us a welcome breather.

To say that Austin-based Brother/Ghost’s debut was appropriate for the weather would be rather redundant by now, but it gives the album a proper context to work with; because, for all its trepidation, Black Ice is never depressing. It is the sound of struggle, yes, through longing and love and war, but the end result is nothing if not uplifting. The arc begins as the title track assures us of impending enlightenment (“we’ve been drinking / the water you’ve been poisoning / we drank ourselves half to death / but now we’re listening”), and its war chant mantra hangs heavy over the succeeding tracks, giving the frustrated snarl of guitars that lead and trail “Waal” an affecting comeuppance.

The lull that bridges these segments are disquieting, hinging mainly on a sprightly xylophone melody and the hushed vocals that become characteristic of Brother/Ghost’s appealing sense of space. This is only further exemplified in the album’s centerpiece “Touch Something and Say Dead,” with a crawling drum march that pulls forth the overlying string section and pained vocals, only to break away into acoustic passages of charming simplicity and later reach a climax worthy of their post-rock roots. The second half’s quieter and more deliberately paced rhythm helps to balance out what could have been an overwhelming call-to-arms, and the musicianship on display helps to sway any doubts that the album might not recover from such front-loaded ferocity.

It is perhaps because of this second half that Black Ice is so successful. After such a powerhouse performance, the slow upward climb in “Baby Sharks Pt. One” is deceptively dark, moving trance-like to its inevitable breakdown and opting instead to rest upon harmonic singing and jarring guitar playing. Brother/Ghost leave the heavy lifting for “Pt. Two,” which smartly plays up the most post-punk aspects of the band’s Spiderland post-rock sensibilities and crafts a memorable little nugget of post-hardcore in the process. All at the service of getting Black Ice to its well-deserved finale, the band finding its enlightenment and indulging in it.

The aforementioned Spiderland plays the largest role in shaping the atmosphere here (“spider-y” is as good a description as any), but Brother/Ghost certainly have fun with their influences, extending their reach from Slint to Sunny Day Real Estate, from Earth to Mount Eerie, even so far as to recall Have a Nice Life’s Deathconsciousness. There are moments on “Touch Something and Say Dead” that rival the whole of the Fleet Foxes debut. But never does Black Ice sound like anything but a charmingly assured and singular piece of work, one that still resonates with the spirit one usually gets from a band whose members are still so fresh-faced and young. The kind that is so easy to relate to, to slip into, especially when the world rains large and foreboding, and we take the opportunity to watch the grass turn into marsh. -


Black Ice - 2009 - Mt. Hope Revival (US)/Shelsmusic (world)



You walk two miles every day because you can't stand the look in people's eyes when you're trying to find a seat on the bus, you have daydreams where you purchase a gun and rob the bank downtown and walk out slowly and count to one hundred and wait for the police to tackle you in front of the cameras, you try to think of five more clever ways to spend the money before you reach the next corner, you smile awkwardly at the skinny kid with the twitch sitting on the curb, you find yrself thinking of someone who used to be important but isn't anymore, yr. head gets wet on the inside and yr. ears start to feel heavy, someone is calling you from the next room and it sounds like yr. mother.
-Dayton Castleman