The Brothers Steve – Dose
Released 15 October 2021
New 10 track album by power popping and hard rocking LA quintet The Brothers Steve on Big Stir Records. This is the follow up to their 2019 debut long player #1 and was entirely written and produced by the band. Ian Canty needs his prescription…
The 2019 debut album by The Brothers Steve 1# acted as an excellent introduction this Los Angeles-based outfit, one that struck a concise balance between old fashion garage rock & roll mayhem and finely teased out tunage (read all about it here). Now the five piece of “handy with the six string” frontmen Os Tyler and Jeff Whalen, guitarist Dylan Champion, plus a rhythm section Steve Coulter and Jeff Solomon reconvene to give us Dose, their second collection.
Like the first album there is little info included in the packaging, apart from cartoon avatars of the group members. The inner sleeve photo of six cats at the dinner table doesn’t give any clues either, but does help to increase the enigmatic air around the band. There is though a real sense of consistence with the first LP with analogous sleeve art and the sound of 1# is expanded successful during Dose’s duration.
Being the kind of live band that no doubt kicks up a storm, The Brothers Steve wrongfoot the unwary listener at the start of Dose with, of all things, a piano sound ballad with delicately applied vocal harmonies. This makes up the intro of first track Get On Up, but soon a nicely fuzzy and tough structure does emerge though, coming over somewhat akin to if The Rolling Stones were reborn as a straight-ahead glam rock band. Next Aquarius follows, toting a more folk/acoustic drive and dreamy chorus. There’s a great bit of guitar soloing and bass and drums keeps things motoring along smoothly. Nothing sounds out of place and the attention to small details in the audio attack are one of the LP’s pleasures.
There is a twist of late-1960s “character study” psych to the woozy summer cool of Mrs Rosenbaum. This effort again explores The Brothers Steve’ advanced abilities for harmony singing, as does the otherwise no-nonsense thrust of Wizard Of Love. The heads-down, bar band pace is slowed as they work towards the memorable refrain, with the brakes being expertly applied for effect at this point. Again this made me think a little of the 1970s glam sound, there is something of what made T Rex great at work here. The easy-going She Will Wait brings us near the halfway stage of Dose in a glistening folk pop manner, it’s a true beauty of carefree pop music.
Electro-Love comes in with real might, the musical hammer on show contrasts nicely with some delicately applied vocals. This is just great music, the kind that makes you feel better on hearing it and that life is worth all the downbeat moments just for this. The pure pop of Sugarfoot comes storming along in its wake. This number has type of catchy, marvellously conceived and arranged melody that is crying out to be heard on the radio everywhere. There is also an acapella drop out section which brings home the band’s great voice work, if any more proof was necessary.
The easy groove of Griffith Observatory marries powerful guitars, a killer tune and a busy lyric. I love way the echo backing vocals are used here, it really works and the build towards the chorus is heavenly too. Love Of Kings lets the acoustic guitars do the work on a beautifully put together piece. There is also an alluring sense of mystery that is palpable here. On the face of it, this is a simple enough love song, but there is also a bit of a puzzle to be unravelled in the deluge of words here.
Dose’s finale Better Get Ready To Go finishes the album with a punky vigour that again recalls the 1970s, where winning tunes and grit worked side by side to produce wonders. But it is no mere homage to times now consigned to the history books. This is the sound 2021 and The Brothers Steve are no doubt primed and ready by this excellent showing to rock the flaming roof of a gig venue right now.
It is hugely gratifying that The Brothers Steve simply don’t do the “difficult second album” syndrome. They just get on with delivering the goods from the get-go. Casting their sonic net broadly on Dose, they care little for the narrow confines of musical genres. Instead they they choose to zoom about all over the place, content to concentrate purely on creating what fits the song in question. Added to that, their faith in their own vision is positively uplifting and dipping into a wide range of sound doesn’t have the result of impinging at all on the band’s strong sense of identity.
Dose is immediately satisfying to my ears, but also full of hidden depths and fine detail that repeated plays will no doubt reveal. That’s two out of two gems from The Brothers Steve for the listener to enjoy. We can only await and imagine a third with a similar amount of inspiration, conviction and above all, stunning melodies.
All words by Ian Canty – see his author profile here