The Brother Kite: Waiting for the Time to be Right (Clairecords, 2006)
Rhode Island based shoegaze outfit The Brother Kite comes to the table with a new and more matured sound. Yes, it’s not just the change in the name, but the departure actually isn’t a departure at all. For me, this disc sounds more akin to their live show than their former record. It struck me that their live show was more infused with Beach Boys style vox and guitar lines amidst walls of ever so impressive sounds. Waiting for the Time to be Right is their sophomore offering, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. This is early Lassie Foundation ala California meets Lassie Foundation ala Pacifico. Yet, it is their own work. The Beach Boys influence is undeniable as they showcase their incredible ability at harmonization and vocals. Recorded in their very own, brand new studio, The Brother Kite are another band that have fashioned their own work in the genre of shoegaze, proving the genre has so much more to give depending on the artist. A giant helping of shoegaze mixed with a massive helping of pop, this album is just perfection.
“Coat of Arms” begins with the sound of surf and glittery pop guitars. The drums and bass really drive the song as guitar layers run throughout but never lose the melody to the pumped up sound. This is a bit of a reminder of where their first disc left their fans and where they are about to lead them. Jon Downs and Patrick Boutwell’s guitar sounds are exquisite and their tone perfection. About three minutes into this pop-tune, Boutwell’s fantastically brilliant vocals come into the mix and the background vocals evoke days gone by found only on albums like Pet Sounds. The execution is perfect and commanding. This seamlessly moves into “Out of Sight.” All of the background vocals drop as fuzzy guitars fill the speakers with a burst of energy. The vocals are more echoing with solid bass and drums backing them up. The guitars bring in that grand shoegaze feel with a perfect pop formula laid over them. Boutwell has perfect vocalization. I can’t express enough how impressed I am with the composition of these songs and the quality of the vocals. Having seen them live, this is exactly what I expected in terms of their vocal abilities. This is what most bands dream of, that is, a sophomore outing that bests their premiere. Two songs into the disc, it is apparent to the listener that something has happened here, something wonderful.
“I’m Not the Only One” finds its place among the style of their first disc with a heavy dose of chaos and brilliant driving drums and bass. It must be noted that Andrea Mason is a fab bass player. Live she’s amazing and certainly should not be overlooked as the perfect glue between melody and beat in this band. “Hopeless and Unsung” is the first track that has a slight quiet before it begins. Bright, glistening guitars slowly play as bass keeps beat. Vocal harmonies come into the mix that just blows me away. The influence of Brian Wilson is uncanny, but that is not a short coming of this album. In fact, it’s a brilliant mixture of their previous work and the band’s ability to vocalize with the best. “The Finest Kind” is more shoegaze as the vocals float on dreamy guitar tones. Keys float around the melodies like ever present winds floating through vast open fields. An incredibly emotive feeling is communicated through this track and is a stellar central track on this disc. I do believe I heard this song live long before it was recorded and it was fab then as it is now.
“Bring it Back Home” starts with nostalgic keys and then bursts into huge guitars. This gives way to light guitars and great harmonies with perfect drums and bass. This seems to be the anthem song of the album and it’s grand. Bells give it that wintry feeling as the guitars ramp up with great tone. This leads to “November/December.” A brief track, it provides an interlude with flute like music, evoking warm firesides and a good warm cup of coffee in that moment when winter is about to hit. “Get On, Me” is another song that starts with glittering guitars and has great acoustic guitar touches. Vibrating through the speakers, this band has the energy of what should be a huge band. “Waiting for the Right Time” begins with organ and vocals. This tune reminds me of Wayne Everett’s recent work. Just absolutely beautiful stripped down pop. Eventually the rest of the band joins with great vocal harmonies and accompaniment. “Hold Me Down” begins instantly. I really like their songs where they just burst in with the song instead of building them like most band. Pulling that off live, which they do with finesse, is an amazing feat. The cymbals clash as the song explodes even more. “Lay Down Your Burden” begins with an epic feel of bright guitars and grand vocals. If I am right, Downs provides some up front vocals and the drums tap the beat into silence. Then, walls of sound jump out of their instruments with a sudden rush. The guitars are intricate and huge as they overwhelm the vocals to a point of sinking them into the mix a bit. It’s a perfect explosion of energy. The band drops out and gives way to ambient ocean sounds and keys. This bleeds directly into “Never in Years.” This final track is huge sounding and the bass and drum work is intricate. The backing vocals “ooo” in the background as the vocals reach a fever pitch. Guitars shimmer and all the elements of the album come together in one song, at one moment, in one composition of excellence. The keys lead the listener out of this shoegaze/pop extravaganza.
Well, I am left saying WOW! This album has blown me away and will be in my player for many, many months to come. The musicianship, composition, influences, and originality make this a must have album for any shoegaze or pop lover. Amazing quality from this sophomore effort.