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Review: Brother Keep – Patchwork Walls

Review: Brother Keep – Patchwork Walls

When listening to Patchwork Walls, the latest album from Brother Keep, it becomes clear that the band takes influence from several classic indie bands. You can hear the lo-fi aesthetic of Guided By Voices, the jangly guitars of R.E.M., and the minimalist atmosphere of Galaxie 500. Unfortunately, the album, while certainly decent, never rises to the level of any of those legendary groups. What we get is a solid album that falls a bit short of being great. Album opener “Casual Waters” begins the album on a soft, quiet note. At times, modern technology betrays their attempt to create a lo-fi sound. The production certainly isn’t as ultra-crisp as most mainstream releases, but it lacks the fuzzy charm that makes this sort of music work. Still, the band has a strong sense of melody, and that propels many of these tracks. On the third track, “Pulse,” the band gets as close to bombast as they ever could. The song has a bigger chorus than anything else here, and if they’re looking for a potential single, it would certainly get my vote. The same could also be said of the title track, which closes the album. These are the rare tracks where the band abandons their minimalism, and tries to write a big catchy rock number. They succeed in creating something fairly memorable, but I doubt either number will break into the mainstream anytime soon. Which is probably how Brother Keep wants it. One of the biggest problems here is repetition. There isn’t a single track here that I actively disliked, but at the same time, they all sort of blend together. The songs tend to feature the same guitar tone, and really the same general style. As it stands, the general sameness of this album brings it down. That’s not to say there aren’t a few really quality moments. The best song here is the soft, ballad-like “Anti-Joy,” which brings in a pleasant keyboard sound to switch things from the typical  guitar tones. It ends up working beautifully, sounding a bit like the gentle lullabies you’d find on a Brian Eno album. It’s the one time the band really comes out of their shell, and it produces a truly great moment on this album. If only they’d been a bit more ambitious. For all its flaws, Patchwork Walls is hardly a bad album, and certainly worth listening to for anyone interested in the future of indie rock. Brother Keep is a band with a ton of potential, and while they don’t fully realize it here, they certainly have a bright future. The band already has solid songwriting skills, and if they can diversify their sound, or just keep things from getting too generic, they could end up creating something truly special. —john hugar

  • otto

    Some quite nice bright moments. A little Daniel Johnston and Sex Clark Five influenced as well.

  • Vicki vacanti

    I agree they have a great future ahead of them, since starting out playing in a basement. the music and songwriting is excellent. the proof of a good album, is if you find yourself playing it over and over again,and also hear people sing along to it. that is what will sell and make people want to see you. I found people listened to their album once, and then ask where are they playing? their sound is catching on quickly. as will be seen in NEXT/ Buffalo News