The Brother Kite: Thebrotherkite (Clairecords, 2004)
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 The Brother Kite, 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, The Brother Kite hit the scene with their debut self-titled album with a bang!
The Brother Kite‘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.
The Brother Kite 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. The Brother Kite 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 Jon 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 The Brother Kite‘s self-titled debut, and it shows that their diversity and talent has been brought together into a masterful piece of shoegazing beauty.
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