Middle Brother: Middle Brother

Middle Brother: Middle Brother

B+

Middle Brother

Album: Middle Brother
Label: Partisan Records

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A compendium of some of the best, young roots-rock songwriters to emerge in the last several years, Middle Brother pools the considerable talents of John McCauley of Deer Tick, Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit, and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes. Typical for a “supergroup,” Middle Brother sounds more like a collection of strong musical personalities crowded into the same space than an actual band on its charmingly ragged, self-titled debut. McCauley is the craggy one, showing a sentimental soul and a drunkard’s disposition on the affecting album-opener “Daydreaming,” where the sound of a couple making love next door underlines his loneliness. (McCauley pays proper tribute to the dean of beer-soaked romanticism, Paul Westerberg, on an appropriately wizened cover of “Portland.”) Vasquez is the rambunctious one, shredding his vocal chords on the smoldering show-stopper “Theater” and holding together the erratic, juke-joint groove of “Blue Eyes.” Finally, Goldsmith is the sensitive one, with a penchant for winsome weepies like “Thanks For Nothing” and the ravishing “Blood And Guts,” a statement of purpose about the burning desire to be great and the process of figuring out how to get there. The friendly competition of Middle Brother pushes McCauley, Vasquez, and Goldsmith one step closer.

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