Saturday, September 14, 2013
Up From the Underground : The Como Brothers Band "Baby Steps"
It's easy to get tied into a genre or scene, especially in New York, where music community is tied into their local pockets. Yet the city holds a rich musical history and diversity and that diversity is what the these two brothers bring to their album "Baby Steps" . Getting their start in a Long Island based Beatles Tribute band with Andrew as George and Matt as John, and the traces of the Fab Four still linger in their leap to original music, but is not hampered by it. The Beatles themselves employed a great deal of stylistic variance and that sense of adventure is what the Brothers took from that.
The funk packed into the album's opener is pretty impressive, with a Stevie Wonder swagger that hits as pretty legit, even if its counter balanced by a more pop inflected take on the vocals. Where someone might Justin Timberlake takes on a colorblind affectation to adapt his vocal style, these guys seem confident in their ability to blend with whatever the musical back drop might be. "Numbed" comes across as more of a indie rock number as it shed the urban groove the opener held. These two have great ears for melody and know how to blend them into the cracks of the songs. The jump in stylistic changes might be a tad jarring, but the common ground is good catchy song writing.
They take a more mainstream approach on "Only Me" the lyrics narrate a tale of awkward romance, that is written in a very personable voice. This could be the theme song to any quirky teen sitcom, but not to dismiss this as bubble gum, as the song writing is highly refined. " Straight Face" takes on more of a Billy Joel feel, it feels like a New York summer in the Seventies, as it's very sax heavy.
The try their hands at folky ballad with a very western campfire feel, though some of the harmonies hold a hint of the Beatles on " Hang My Head" and then switch over into a more shadowy groove of "Late Nights" its hard to believe these are the same to guys who four songs ago brought you a frolicking teenage puppy love anthem. This song is miles of maturity away from that and comes across as a regret lament to hard living in the night life.
They return to the more beat up summer in Central Park vibes on "Hey Kristen," this song also comes the closest to dipping into blue eyed soul vocally. While definition this is pop music, it is in the same way Billy Joel or the Beatles more light hearted moments would be. This relatively guilt free pop music though I know for this site there is no such purgatory for some.
There is some really solid guitar playing on " Chasing Ambiance" the Paul McCartney influence returns in the vocals, though there is a slight indie rock indifference in the relaxed cadence. There's also a slight bit of David Gilmore in the soloing. The gears seem to be primed to returned to the blues slur of New York grown pop. "Make a Move" opens with some doo-wop and then goes skipping into the bustle of the Big Apple. The strummed guitar patten is pretty typical for Jason Mraz style pop but these guys blend a very blue collar vibe to it.
They return to seedier funk groove on "Broken" in some ways it takes an indie slant a band like Minus the Bear might employ in the casual approach to the melody. The western twang of re-verbed out guitar opens "Honestly" and leads into a more sweeping chorus. The song feels much like " Little Wing" by Hendrix, though the sweep to the chorus is much more in the vein of say Travis or Coldplay. The album exits with a more funk tinged groove though it lies in the same neighbor as the their more Minus the Bear influenced rock moments.
The vocals are very malleable without losing their sense of identity, the back drop changes like that in a musical but there is not the sense these guys are just trying on different hats trying to find themselves but have already found their voice and like providing varied scenery for it .