Album Review: Jeff the Brotherhood, ‘Wasted on the Dream’
After a decade of making music, Jeff the Brotherhood have yet to rise to the top of the indie rock food chain. It's not, however, for lack of trying. With their new album, Wasted On The Dream, they stake claim to find their way into more ears.
Though they have previously been part of the Warner Bros. family (with WB distributing their Infinity Cat imprint), they were dropped by the major earlier this year, but that was more than okay with them. They said on their website, "We, Jeff the rrotherhood, are so f---ing pleased to announce that we have been dropped from the clutches of the demented vulture that is Warner Bros! We feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted from our shoulders, and could not be more excited."
Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall (sons of obscure '80s rocker turned '90s country singer Robert Ellis Orall) have been cranking out albums since 2002, casually refining their psych/pop/garage/rock sound along the way. Their signature riffage is still front and center as the album kicks off with the surging "Voyage Into Dreams,' which will instantly have your head bopping along. Imagine a poppier version of Monster Magnet with less space, more drive and a little bit of B.O.C. and you won't be too far off. More than anyone, perhaps, the guys recall the late great '80s garage rockers, the Velvet Monkeys (who would later morph into '90s alt rockers Gumball).
"Black Cherry Pie" follows next with another classic-sounding riff driving things. Halfway in and what have we here? A flute solo! You can toss your Jethro Tull cliches at the wall and wait for it to stick every time a band uses a flute, but in this case, it's actually the master himself: the one and only Ian Anderson. The Tull frontman lends his skills to the track, lending validation and making it all the more special. "Cosmic Visions" makes its way through a field of classic and indie rock reference points along with the classic line, "Marijuana make me wanna take off all my clothes and I ain't never comin' home."
"Melting Place" gets on with a Black Sabbath-y, doom laden riff, but instead of courting cliche, they are able to twist it into their own utensil as they poke at the rock beast to make a headbanging, garage rocking mixture. There are duds to be certain. "In My Mouth," in particular, sounds like a junior high band rock-off sneaked into the mix, while "Prairie Song," with it's references to air guitar and general despair (but without that particular rhyme), comes off as a less than stellar notch on their belt. "Coat Check Girl" sounds a bit Weezer-esque. We'll let you decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. They regain momentum with the very catchy, "Karaoke, TN," which sneaks in some backing vocals that flash back to Kiss' "Got To Choose."
All in all, there is really nothing "new" going on here. Jeff the Brotherhood take heaping spoonfuls from rock's distant and not so distant past to create what's ultimately a lighthearted, fun and rocking batch of songs. They seem to lack the – shall we say intangible – shine of someone like Ty Segall who, while far from pioneering, has managed to capture a larger platform to stage his retro revival. If anything, the problem with Jeff the Brotherhood is lack of identity. It's a pleasant, and often entertaining ride, but once you get out of the car, will you remember where you've been?