thebrotherkite
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thebrotherkite

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The best kept secret in music

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"The Portland Mercury"

The shoegazer tag has been applied to far-flung bands of late, with lighter, quieter, and poppier versions of the groundbreaking sound all falling under the tag of the newly rediscovered sound. Providence, Rhode Island five-piece thebrotherkite, however, exemplifies the sonic fuzz, distortion, walls of guitars, and lyrics of love and dejection that first qualified bands such as Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and Catherine Wheel's first album, Ferment, as shoegazing acts--as well as qualifying those on the fringe of the genre like Opal and Felt. "Simply Say My Name" is pounding and full of passion, with female-backed harmonies that rise to percussive explosions, and "Death Ray" is churning and propulsive. The entire album is like a roaring flame that calms to a slow burn and then, like a driftwood fire smoldering in the cold night sand, finds a burl then pops, hisses, and ignites again. - Kathleen Wilson


"Twoblock.net"

It's not a secret that Clairecords has quite a penchant for signing brilliant, shining bands that embrace the sound of the early 90's shoegaze movement, yet offer their own takes on the style made famous by My Bloody Valentine, Lush, and Ride. The debut album by Providence, RI band thebrotherkite is no exception to this. I'd even say that this album stretches the 'gaze limit more originally than most bands of this caliber, irresistably blending an emotional indie-rock aesthetic with blistering, reverbed-out washes of sound, pulling you in further and further until it ends, demanding repeated listens.

“Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight” starts things off perfectly with a slow, easy waltz that introduces thebrotherkite trademarks: blissful chordage by a wall of three guitars, huge (and i mean HUGE) reverberated sound that envelops the listener, and the buried but strongly effective vocals of Patrick Boutwell and Jon Downs. As the song builds up to the chorus, everything gets louder and more passionate. The drums soar with restrained intensity, and the bass is the glue that holds it together. thebrotherkite don't let you rest, as they plunge directly from this into “The Music Box,” which showcases their ability of mixing the finest of pop melodies with a rockin' out sensibility. This particular track kind of reminds me of Ride, circa Going Blank Again, but with a much, much bigger sound.

Following this is the only disappointment on the album. “Mere Appreciation,” at least to me, just doesn't have much of a melody or a convincing presence. Jon Downs' voice is pleasant enough, but at most the track seems to serve as stylistic variety from the sonic onslaught of the other tracks and not much else, being an acoustic-guitar-and-voice-only affair.

Thank goodness that thebrotherkite do not stay in this rut as the rest of the tracks on this album could almost be considered one complete suite. “Simply Say My Name” is pure heaven: a spacious aural delight similar to the way the opening track is presented, but in a much more rock 'n' roll setting. The well-crafted melody and guitar lines — and I shan't forget Patrick's blissfully moving whisper-to-scream utterances — give way to harmonies that don't suck, then fade into a breezy guitar/bass interlude which gives way to “Porcelain.” Wow. This is where it's at, folks. An absolutely PERFECT indie-rock melody that twists and turns, mixed with My Bloody Valentine stylings (think “Sueisfine”) and superbly energetic drumming. It is these drums which become “Death Ray,” a track that alternates between explosive guitar bursts and fragile, yet still driving bass-led verses. An intermission of Kevin Shields-y guitar opens the rocketing “The Blackout.” This track hosts one of the coolest rock riffs I've ever heard (the opening one) and the dual vocals of Jon and Patrick interweaving seamlessly with the rock-out. Though these two tracks are not as engaging as the previous ones, they are still worthy.

Then all becomes calm. What is possibly a keyboard drone (or heavily-effected guitar) is anchored by the bass, Patrick's vocals echoing way in the background. Thus begins the best track of the bunch, the epic “The Way That You Came Down.” Blasting right into a Phil Spector-ish wall-of-sound, complete with tambourine slaps, sparkly guitar arrangements and a Ronettes rhythm, thebrotherkite unleash their strongest melody on the disc. After a beautiful section of guitar flourishes, the distortion is turned all the way up on everything minus the vocals, recalling the more abrasive moments of the Flaming Lips. A great keyboard line accompanies the voice, which stops after a short while leaving Patrick on his own until that Spector section reprises itself, with an unbridled passion not heard the first time around. The disc ends with melodic noise and you are left stunned, wanting more. Or at least a repeat play, which I'm sure you'll have no problem doing. If I had the ability to give this a "high 8," I would. Strongly recommended! - Twoblock.net


"Splendid"

This Rhode Island quartet's run-on name is emblematic of its loud, ringing, cathedral-sized sound. Drawing from the poppier side of shoegaze, these mini-epics swell with lots of grand, crashing chords, buried but discernible vocals, anthemic bombast, occasional prog-synth breakdowns and brief segues that connect one track to the next. The catchy melodies rarely fail to pierce the massive, blurring wall of sound, and you have to admire a band with the cojones to nearly swipe the tune from Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen" (!) for the verses of "The Music Box". Quizzically, they also throw in "Mere Appreciation", a bared-boned, demo-quality acoustic guitar and voice track, but it's an anomaly amid all the glorious noise. This lyric from "Porcelain" makes an apt self-assessment: "Head in a cave / Everything resounds / Trying to keep / from being down." Although it loses a little momentum in its final three songs, Thebrotherkite is ambitious and promising enough to inspire hope for a more consistent second outing (and as we first reviewed this debut in its self-released form two years ago, they've clearly had time to improve). If the "Be My Baby" drum rolls that appear 1:30 into "The Way That You Came Down" are any indication, this is the up-and-coming band with the run-on name Phil Spector should've produced instead of Starsailor. - Chris Kriofske


"Somewhere Cold"

In the last year or so, Clairecords has continued to astonish me in respect to how many records of innovative, shoegazer bands they have been able to release. Highspire, Airiel, Hartfield and Sciflyer have impressed me this past year or so, but now the folks over at Clairecords have certainly hit a homerun with Thebrotherkite, a musical unit hailing from Rhode Island. They are amazingly eclectic with the ability to bring all those disparaging parts into a seamless, meaningful whole. Drawing from 80's pop/post-punk, the Beach Boys, and shoegazer influences, Thebrotherkite hit the scene with their debut self-titled album with a bang!

Thebrotherkite's s/t cd starts with dreamy violins and angelic voices. A short time into "Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight", the slow, syncopated guitars and drums cut in. The vocals on this song are fantastic, not just for the quality of Patrick's voice, but also for the effects that give the vocals a great, shimmery feel. Also, the bridge in this song quiets down and feels akin to Saxon Shore or Early Day Miners. Following upon the heels of "Goodnight" is a raucous tune entitled "The Music Box". This song is, well, a favorite of mine on this disc. It has everything I could ever ask for in a driving, shoegazer song. The melodies are catchy and popish; the guitars driving, intricate, and shimmering; and the percussion is aggressive. It is a perfect mixture of early 80's pop/punk and modern shoegazer elements. Frankly, it's a beautiful song.

Thebrotherkite really changes things up in "Mere Application". This is a song with just vocals and acoustic guitar. It is just a little over two minutes long, but it is great vocally, showing that Patrick is not hiding behind all the effects but truly has a charismatic and wonderful voice. As "Mere Application" fades away on the disc, "Simply Say My Name" kicks in with glimmering, huge guitars layered upon one another. Thebrotherkite is brilliant at allowing their levels of guitar to play off of each other instead of letting them just wash out into one another. It makes for a beautiful sound with intricate melodies. They even throw in some acoustic guitars and beautiful female BGV's by Andrea in this song to boot. "Death Ray" really displays their mixture of 80's pop/punk and shoegazer style because, during pieces of the song, they alternate between the two styles, dropping the layers, and letting the distorted guitars and vocals take over. This song is masterful, brilliant, complex, and has its simple moments all at the same time. Each of the songs on this disc display a sort of stream of thought style in the lyrics, which work wonderfully with the style of music.

"The Blackout" is more of a harder, driving song on the disc. It begins with really off-key guitar picking and moves into full walls of sound and just keeps driving till the end. Once again, the walls of sound drop in this song as well for brief periods, really displaying great guitar work by John and Mark and vocals by Patrick. The final song on the disc, "The Way That You Came Down", incorporates more influences that I don't really hear on the rest of the disc. I hear a mixture of Beach Boys, My Bloody Valentine and The Lassie Foundation in this song. There are beautiful Beach Boys melodies in the vocal parts and some of the guitar, some sections with walls of sound and also melodies akin to early Lassie Foundation. There are fantastic Richard Swift style organs in parts, Echo and the Bunnymen sonics, and glorious noise in this diverse, yet coherent song.

There is a lot going on in Thebrotherkite's self-titled debut, and it shows that their diversity and talent has been brought together into a masterful piece of shoegazing beauty. [5 Stars] - Somewhere Cold


"KEXP"

This Providence, Rhode Island band debuts with an impressive album of shoegazerish psych-pop, combining ringing, soaring guitars with buoyant pop melodies. - Don Yates


"FAC193"

Those who love Florida’s Clairecords label have, no doubt, some expectation as to what you’ll find on their roster. A pleasant and unique surprise comes in the form of Thebrotherkite, a band from Rhode Island who lean more towards the smart indie rock of groups like Death Cab For Cutie than the miasmic guitar of My Bloody Valentine.

Their self-titled debut does contain elements of dreaminess, but Thebrotherkite excel at keeping their music at the breaking point where you’d expect them to break away from the song structure and launch into a wall of glorious sound at any moment. “Simply Say My Name”, in fact, ends with that very thing—note, though, that Thebrotherkite tend not to be as abstract as many of the shoegazers currently roaming the planet. As openers go, the epic “Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight” is as good as they come, and other highlights include the raucous “The Blackout” and a most moody closing number, “The Way That You Came Down”.

Talk about something to turn you on your ear! Thebrotherkite was not what I expected from this label, but it’s a welcome surprise filled with songs that demand to be mixtape favorites.
- Jack Alberson


"Delusions of Adequacy"

Is shoegaze back? Did it ever go away? I don't profess to know, but I can say with certainty that The Brother Kite is a shoegaze band. All the ingredients are there (In leiu of the technical names of the following effects, I've made up my own terms): the washy guitars, the soaring vocals, the shimmers, the quakes, the squiggles. It just all sounds like you're floating in space weightless and suspended in the soupy production mix of the music.

When a song like "Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight" comes on I feel like I should be asleep and dreaming of floating somewhere in between Mercury and Venus waving to the nice space folk I see waddling by me. Either that, or I feel like I should be high playing a really stellar game of Galaga, killing some wicked space bird ass. It really doesn't matter because regardless of what I think I should be doing it's anything other than sitting at my desk typing on a keyboard. Good shoegaze music has that ability to make you transcend your current time and place. And certainly much of this disc has the ability to do that.

Though the group's sound is firmly planted in the realm of all things shoegaze, its also interesting to listen to where else the group has grabbed some influence. Strip away all the production effects on "Music Box," for instance, and it's really nothing more than a mid-90s power pop song, maybe something like Teenage Fanclub. Wherever these musicians are getting their ideas from, all of this disc is entirely British. They are indebted forever to pioneers like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and Swervedriver. However, also poking its head in sometimes is the danceable pop of the Stone Roses.

This is a good record. What my short-attention span likes most of all is the The Brother Kite's ability to head off tedium before it starts. Most bands like this would try to lull you into a repetitive and tiresome sound-wash jam, just to show you that eight minutes of loud music can actually make you fall asleep. Though there are the trippy repetitive episodes, none seem over-indulgent.

So that said, who cares if shoegaze ever went away or not. The Brother Kite is worthy of the term keepers of the flame, bringing some innovation and enjoyable tunes to the genre. - Dan Williams


"Hybrid Magazine"

I am a shoegazer. You all know that. You all know that my musical diet has long consisted of copious amounts of Catherine Wheel, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and the like. It should be absolutely no surprise to you then, that I love thebrotherkite. This band has managed to capture the essence of the early 90's scene and merge it bombastically with the more indie elements of most of their contemporaries. Hard edged shoegaze, or emo-gaze-core, are things that I would most certainly refer to this music as. Edgey, deliberate, orchestrated and noisy, thebrotherkite's debut record is a sonic wonderland.

"Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight" starts the album off in true wall-of-sound shoegazing ecstasy, very reminiscent of early Ride. The vocals are prominent, while being washed out to the point of genre acceptability. The My Bloody Valentine-ishness kicks in fully on "The Music Box". The song differs in tone from those glory days of Kevin Shields, but contains many of the same sonic traits that endeared a generation of listeners to his work. The evidently slowing guitars and steady drumbeats pay homage to MBV, without being derivative or contrived. The more modern integration begins to creep in on "Simply Say My Name". The music trades a bit of its noisy character for the chiming, monotonous guitars of indie rock. Which I don't mean to sound like a bad thing- the song is full of tranquil tensions that build slowly to a keyboard-heavy groove that leads back into the more sonic territory that this band seems to do so well. "Porcelain" makes my soul yearn for the days of Chapterhouse and Adorable. It is a fast paced race thru territory that seems immediately familiar, while remaining very much its own sound. That is the key to thebrotherkite. The music is strangely familiar, even though you've never heard it before, but is indisputably its own monster- with its own horns and gnashing teeth. Recognizable, yet completely individual.

…And do yourself a favor. Listen to this record LOUD. I'm pretty sure that's the way it is supposed to be heard. All the good music is. - Embo Blake


"Lost at Sea"

To my knowledge, The Brother Kite have managed to do something that no other band has successfully done: they've made a record that legitimately passes for both a shoegaze album and an emo album. Mineral always toyed around with wailing delay and tremolo, The Appleseed Cast came damn near close to blurring the same line with their Low Level Owl discs, and you could argue that Ride and Catherine Wheel both injected their fair share of undergrad-level mope and angst into their blissed-out guitar torrents, but this album balances both halves of the equation perfectly. You'll actually hear The Brother Kite transition from hazy cloudbursts of pedal-drenched beauty to snappy Jimmy Eat World-esque palm-muted verses, and you'll probably be as surprised as I am that it actually works.

Okay, let me amend that statement - it works to a point. On their best songs, The Brother Kite make a very immediate connection; when your songs essentially amount to an unlikely cross section of Murmur, early My Bloody Valentine, and American Football, it only follows that they'll feel personal and instantly familiar. It's very easy to get caught up in the tugging melody of a song like "The Music Box," what with all of the emoting and the massive guitars and the sheer drama and Big Rock Magic of it all… but then, when the band turns down their amps and attempts to let their songwriting do the talking, they fall flat.

Just compare the acoustic "Mere Appreciation" to the two rave-ups that surround it and you'll understand The Brother Kite's problem. Structurally speaking, all three tracks are nearly identical, but "Mere Appreciation" stands about because A.) There are no pulsing drums or cascading layers of fuzz and B.) It's exceedingly boring - and I'm pretty sure that B is a direct result of A.

Whether their shoegazer affectations serve as a crutch or not, the indelible mark that half of the tracks on this record leave attest to the fact that The Brother Kite do know what they're doing. I'm sure that this record's marriage of shoegaze and emo is, in and of itself, enough to capture quite a few listeners' imaginations; if they can beef up the actual nuts and bolts of their songs next time around, The Brother Kite may very well capture mine as well. - Phillip Buchan


"Aversion.com"

With their debut record for Sacramento-based Clairecords, the four cats of Thebrotherkite are not only able to express their disdain for proper punctuation, but, as an added bonus, managed to produce eight tracks of ambient shoegazin’ pop-rock for our listening pleasure.

What we have here is just more than 40 minutes of well-executed pop-rock with a slight overemphasis on atmosphere and ambience. Both impressive and distinctive, the band’s obvious strengths can be found in its maximalist, wall-of-sound antics. Each and every track on this debut has a decidedly soothing, warm-bath-for-your-ears quality. The rhythm section takes care of any remaining sonic real estate without a hitch, employing a tight, yet simple, approach that contrasts with the guitar work beautifully.

As thick and pleasant as the instrumental mix may be, Thebrotherkite ran out of space for the vocals and tried to cram them into the mix at the last minute. Not particularly bad so much as out of place, the vocals sound like they were recorded through a tin can and some string while standing smack dab in the middle of a room approximately “too big,” in size. Gross.

Vocal production issues aside, Thebrotherkite manages a mostly delicious debut offering. Thebrotherkite isn’t exactly the soundtrack to which you’d operate heavy machinery, but it’s a very mellow listen from start to finish. A 40-minute run time and eight tracks might make some listeners balk, seeming a tad long-winded for a pop-oriented indie-rock disc. That said, however, if you’re due for a time-released dose of quality, quasi-depressive pop-rock, by all means pick this up.
- Justin Baker


Discography

thebrotherkite (Clairecords 2004 LP)
Split 7" Record (Losing Blueprint 2003)
thebrotherkite (s/t demo self-released 2002)

Photos

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Bio

Providence, Rhode Island's thebrotherkite have been recording and performing their unique style of rock and roll since 2001. Founding members Patrick Boutwell and Jon Downs began writing and recording original material as a duo, until they were joined by bassist Andrea Mason and guitarist Mark Howard in 2002. As a quartet, thebrotherkite released a split 7" record with Ocean State mates Vaguely Starshaped on Boston's Losing Blueprint Records. In early 2003, the band began recording their self-titled debut CD-LP. Their fear of conventional recording studios and methods left no doubt that they would record the album in their modest home studio, and on their own terms. Upon the album's completion, thebrotherkite found their fifth and final member, percussionist Matt Rozzero. As a quintet, (and with the help of a carefully programed Apple iPod) they were finally able to successfully recreate their layered sound in a live setting. Their self-titled debut CD-LP is a stirring rock and roll experiment that is as catchy as it is challenging.