Left Brain
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Left Brain

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Left Brain - Bury The Facade
Self-financed, 2007 6.5/10

Speaking of Albuquerque's Left Brain with exactitude is not easy, which is probably the way they like it. This self-described "progressive alternative/metal band" outline their musical objectives in terms that are abstract, trippy, and vaguely scientific-sounding (Odd wording is also characteristic of their lyrics.). Whether Bury the Facade is metal and whether it's a CD or an EP are debatable. One certainty about Left Brain is that Tool is a major inspiration. "Take What You Need" brings both Undertow and Lateralus to mind, while "Arisen" is strongly evocative of the former and "Persephone" of the latter, its melodies, rhythm, and riffing borrowing heavily, to put it mildly, from "The Patient." With the exception of the rather forgettable, bluesy "Limerence," in each song a Tool vibe is present even when other facets of their "orgy of styles," as the band puts it--alternative rock, hints of psychedelia--are emphasized.

Being influenced by one of the few present-day U.S. bands worth emulating is admirable but problematical, in that you're dealing, of course, not just with a highly distinctive sound but with an entire aesthetic. So indelible is the Tool imprint that it basically clones itself, dominating the listener's consciousness, eclipsing everything else. All one can think of is "Ah, Tool." Hell, even the originators have recently been unable to escape criticism for sounding, er, like themselves. Only a presence so subtle as to be barely noticeable and intricately meshed with dramatically striking original and/or contrasting elements allows for significant individualization, and that is not the case here.

A less prominent similarity can be heard in the Maynard-like inflections vocalist Tristin Rogers sometimes uses. Otherwise, he sounds like a thinner, more mewly version of Living Colour's Corey Glover. While the timber of Rogers' clean (primary) voice leaves much to be desired, his growls, quasi-growls, and screams are decent, and he displays good instincts in terms of nuance. He is, in fact, largely responsible for the degree of feeling that pervades Bury the Facade, most affectingly in "Persephone" and in a long interlude during "The Waste," with which I wish they had chosen to end the song, rather than returning to the 3-part refrain, whose identical first and third sections are tiresomely repeated way too many times in the song.

Despite needing to do more to separate themselves from Tool, Left Brain are an adventurous band whose inclination towards "probing for the new," as expressed in their manifesto, should take them in directions where they can distinguish themselves. Some of the less tangible Toolish elements, such as the Lateralus-like, quietly compelling progression of "Persephone" could be achieved in many different ways. They also do some nice things with effects, and I'm intrigued by the experimentation with epic creation represented by the 4-track movement of songs chronicling a relationship ("Limerence" through "The Cleansing"). Left Brain are very young as a band, having formed in 2005, their previous recordings a 10-track demo, on which "Take What You Need" appeared and from which no samples are available, as far as I can tell, and three singles with songs from the demo and Bury the Facade. Already, though, they have established an advanced level of professionalism, as evidenced by the quality of Bury the Facade's sound and packaging (designed by and featuring the artwork of Left Brain guitarist John Allen), and of the band's promotional materials.

written by Maud
- http://www.tartareandesire.com


Alibi Magazine
At Home with Left Brain
Original progressive rock, fresh from the oven
By Amy Dalness

Imagine a metal band at a house party. On ripped-up sofas, overturned chairs, and a floor littered with empty cans and bottles, a crowd moshes wildly as the band trashes its way through the set. A glass vase falls from the shelf, shattering on the tile floor and bringing the party to a halt. The moshers disappear, the sofas are repaired, the cans and bottles are (mostly) gone, but the band remains. When Left Brain rehearses, it’s always a house party. Left Brain started as a jam band, with John Allen on guitar, Steve Keator on drums and Tristin Rogers with vocals. They spent the summer of 2005 jamming until bass player Michael Clifford joined the ranks in September. With the final spot in the band filled, Left Brain got serious about taking their music beyond just a hobby. The first step: moving into Keator's house. "We all live together, we eat together, we practice together," Keator says. "If you're going to go on the road, travel the country and live in tour buses, you'd better start living in a house and see if you can get along."

Shortly after the move, they signed up to play their first gig—a block party that failed miserably. (The host of the event didn't acquire the needed permits, so the party was cancelled.) Left Brain called a friend at Harlow's on the Hill and booked their debut concert, which included other bands from the defunct show. "It was our most valuable lesson," Keator says. "We need to do this ourselves."

On top of each member working a full-time job, Left Brain is continually writing new music, attending shows of other local bands, flyering for upcoming shows, being ever-present in the rocksquawk.com online community and playing their own gigs. They do everything themselves—even putting together their debut album, Bury the Facade , with a little help from Sid Garcia of Sight 16 Studios.

Bury the Facade is the first album Left Brain has released for mass consumption. But in reality, this isn't their first record—it's just the first record they've liked enough to bring outside the studio. Six months ago they completed a 10-song demo CD they weren't happy with, so they took the loss and didn't release it. "The music wasn't as hard as we wanted it to be, it wasn't as deep as we wanted it to be," Rogers says. All this from a band that’s just over a year old.

The depth of Bury the Facade comes in a few different flavors, the first and most obvious being its depth of craftsmanship. The professional quality of the album art--all original work by guitarist, graphic artist and self-declared promotion whore Allen--is a gateway into the equally professional and driven musical story inside. Through haunting bass hooks, forceful lyrics, raging guitar and driving percussion, Bury the Facade embodies hard rock with depth not often found on a debut album. Left Brain has arguably earned the moniker "The Hardest Working Band In Burque" and Bury the Facade is one more piece of evidence.

Catch Left Brain and the release of Bury the Facade on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Burt's Tiki Lounge (313 Gold SW) at 9 p.m. with SuperGiant, Anesthesia and the Ya Ya Boom Project! There's no cover and CDs and T-shirts will be available. For more info, visit www.leftbrainband.com.
- Alibi Magazine


ArmThePit.com Interview
December 10th 2006

1. For the record, who's answering the interview, what is your band's name? How did you come up with that name?

John Allen. I'm the guitarist for Left Brain. I alo do the graphic design and computer nerding for the band. The name "Left Brain" was a intoxicated accident. Our drummer Steve threw it out there and it kinda stuck.

2. So who's in the band and what's everyone's life story in 50 words or less?

Tristin Rogers is the vocalist and grew up singing R&B. John Allen is the guitarist and grew up being a computer nerd and played acoustic guitar. Mike Clifford is the bassist and figured playing bass was much better than getting a masters degree. Steve Keator is our drummer and found himself drumming to get his aggressions out. We all live with each other and eat, sleep and breath music.

3. In a nutshell, please describe your sound.

It's metal when it comes down to it. So the sound is an orgy of styles because we are always probing for the new. It's darker and emotional so it represents the positives and damaging points that developed throughout our zany exodus.

4. Why did you each of you start playing music and was there a turning point from becoming the dream child that every mother and father hopes their child will become before discovering music? Why did music become a career choice for you?

We decided to start playing music because that is what we all loved and understood. Music can create a fantastic soundtrack to life so we wanted to be apart of that compilation. The turning point for us came when we were effected by the awful things going on in life. Domestic Violence, War, Humiliation and Delusion played a big part of it and that's what we are telling about in our music. We know we have something different and we get excited every time we play. It's friggin addicting!

5. What bands have influenced each of you?

All of them, we are all music junkies and are constantly listening to new music. But to sum it up, I'd have to say.. Killswitch Engage, Tool, Rush, Lamb of God and R. Kelley.

6. What makes your band unique?

We all come from different music and personal backgrounds. So that makes it fun.. We talk about the darker things in life rather than how big our rims are or who we fucked. We enjoy crazy Math Metal riffs or smooth jazz break downs.. so it makes for a wild ride listening and watching play live. We try and put 1,000% into what we do and we try and help out our community as much as possible to. Our neighbors love us!

7. If you could hang with anyone, who would it be?

36 submissive Victoria's secret models. If not them then.. Joel from Killswitch Engage. I never really look up to people but his fucking guitar playing is just stupid. He changed the way I play and look at music. Plus he drinks Jack and that makes for a fun session no matter who's drinking it.

8. What instruments do you each play? How did you learn to play, self or school?

I play guitar and I can make some pretty cool sounds come from a keyboard. I learned how to play by watching my older brothers shredding on their guitars. They were sick and still are! I finally moved up in the world and took some lessons in classical/flamenco. Finally settling on the loud stuff and playing everyday for hours.

9. Do you write your own music? Who writes the music?

We write all of our music. Everything comes from everyone thankfully so it makes writing very fun. I used to be the main architect in the writing process but then Mike and Tristin started creating some of the songs and I would take those riffs and put a little John spin on them. I think Tristin is a better rhythm guitarist than I am but he'll deny it and damn it.. he can also play the drums pretty good. Why is he in our band?!?!?!

10. What inspires the songs you write?

LIFE! Goodness I feel like I've already answer this question. Hehehehe.. Domestic Violence, War, Humiliation and Delusion plays a big part of it and that's what we are telling about in our music. The gross stuff. YUM!

11. How long does it take you to write a song that's ready to record?


We are riff machines.. Look we just wrote 5 songs already.

12. Do you do any recording on your own?

Yes, I doodle here and there with sounds and my classical guitar.

13. How would you describe your local music scene? Likes, Dislikes.

We live in Albuquerque so the music scene here is killer. It's a melting pot of everything. You can go out on any night and hear nothing but local bands. The best part is that you don't have to be a "Big" band to play a show. Without the local bands the bars and clubs don't do that much business. Its a win win situation.

14. What would you like to change about your local music scene?

Not much.. Maybe the local venues getting a discount on advertisement. It's expensive to advertise in the papers and on the radio.

15. What is your favorite local venue?

- ArmThePit.com


January 21st 2007

One might easily mistake Left Brain’s new EP, “Bury the Facade,” for a major label release – the artwork and packaging looks that professional. In reality, the CD is a shining example of how attention to detail can produce a DIY product that rivals big-budget releases. But guitarist John Allen’s black, silver and gold-dominated visual art contribution is merely a final flourish, an invitation to experience the music within.

It’s immediately apparent that the members of Left Brain didn’t take any shortcuts crafting the music, either. They have carefully brewed up an explosive, 30-minute mix of mathy progressive rock that alternates pristine, jazzy sections with aggressive, double-bass-drum-driven slabs of hefty crunchiness. Vocalist Tristin Rogers’ voice shape-shifts from clean, nuanced tenor to guttural bellows with ease, adding to the variety of Left Brain’s eclectic sound. The bass lines of Mike Clifford perform a delicate dance, alternately approaching, entwining with, and retreating from Allen’s complex guitar parts while solidly joined to drummer Steve Keater’s polyrhythmic beats. Like the Hydra, “Bury the Facade” rears many heads at the listener as it feints, attacks, contemplates, swarms. Spacious, floating sections morph into densely layered metallic structures and back again – fluxing, refocusing.

From the eerie sample that opens the first song “Take What You Need” to the abrupt conclusion of final track “The Cleansing,” Left Brain changes meter, tempo, and direction with machine-like accuracy, but this band’s greatest strength is blending arcane mathematical formulas and robotic precision with raw human emotion and feeling. The 4-movement final track (Limerance/Hinderance/Persephone/The Cleansing) is a prime example of this, as it morphs through many changes: reggae-tinged guitar and taffy-pull fusion bass tones, tasty blues licks, tribal drums and fuzz guitar undercurrent, soaring vocals over triumphant, clarion-call guitar, pick-squealing metal riffage and outraged roars. Engineer/Co-Producer Sid Garcia has captured the essence of this young band’s variegated sound and harnessed its inherent power. As a result, Left Brain’s “Bury the Facade” is both seamlessly constructed and emotionally accessible, a testament to the quartet’s talent, work ethic and collective artistic skills. Left Brain has arrived.

Alan - Devil Riding Shotgun - rocksquawk.com


Discography

US Radio Play

104.7FM KTEG The Edge
Albuquerque, NM (Clear Channel)

91.5FM KRUX
Las Cruces, NM (NMSU College Radio)

Left Brain - Bury The Facade

Songs
1. Take What You Need
2. Arisen
3. The Waste
4. I. Limerence
5. II. Hindrance
6. III. Persephone
7. IV. The Cleansing

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Our music is a thought process that sometimes delves into the darker aspects of society which are important, yet often ignored. We strive to portray the different dimensions of a story or idea through music to ultimately describe an emotional and intellectual state of being.

Left Brain was formed in September, 2005. In a short amount of time, the band has risen to a prominent position in the Albuquerque and New Mexico music scene, played over 50 shows, and earned a reputation as one of the hardest working local bands.

In January 2007, the 7-song EP Bury the Facade was released and the singles Take What You Need and Arisen have received consistent rotation on 104.7FM The Edge. Another song from the album, The Cleansing, was also featured on GarageBand.com’s Alternative Metal front page because of a high number of favorable reviews on the band’s page.

In April of 2007 Left Brain was voted #2nd Place for “Best Metal Band” and #3rd Place for “Best New/Emerging Band” in Alibi Magazine - Best of Albuquerque 2007.

In May of 2007 Left Brain won 2 New Mexico Music Awards for “Best Rock-Metal” and “Best Artist’s Website”.