Monday, March 14, 2011

Middle Brother Brings Goldsmith, McCauley, Vasquez Together

Taylor Goldsmith, John McCauley, and Mathew VasquezMaybe it's all in the band living up to its name, but Middle Brother has been largely overlooked since Partisan Records released the band's self-titled debut. Or, perhaps it's just because the band members continuously write its existence off, reminding would-be fans that the name gives a nod at how they'll treat the project — like a neglected middle brother.

Consisting of three singer-songwriters who front other groups — Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), John McCauley (Deer Tick) and Mathew Vasquez (Delta Spirit) — Middle Brother is not a side project as much it's a side-by-side project. Prior to entering the studio together, the collaboration was not much more than impromptu jam sessions between three performers, most notably at last year's SXSW under the moniker “MG&V.”

Goldsmith, McCauley, And Vasquez fire up a brilliantly abused collaboration.

“The more we thought about it, the more we realized that Middle Brother’s existence is dictated by the scheduling of the other three bands,” said Goldsmith in a recent interview. “So, to me, the band exists in the same space as that stereotypical, neglected middle brother.”

There are the one off-stylings of all three bands to consider too. Goldsmith's band is known for its rootsy, country-fused melodic rock off Dawes' North Hills. Vasquez leans toward soulful alternative with the Delta Spirit's History Down Below. And McCauley's Deer Tick is ragged indie folk rock, with only its latest, More Fuel For The Fire EP, drifting deeply into southern country alt rock.

Middle Brother bridges them all, with leanings toward Deer Tick. It's hard not to lean in that direction given McCauley's raw, powerful, and distinctive voice. The uptempo rocker Me, Me, Me, and painfully powerful lament Daydreaming, with McCauley at the lead, best illustrates the point.

That's not to suggest Goldsmith and Vasquez don't deliver the goods. As a duet between the pair and McCauley dropping back, Blue Eyes is an unforgettable even-handed folk rocker. Goldsmith shines in Middle Dollar Bill and Wilderness. But even better than the album are their live performances.

Middle Brother plays best where it started ... out on the open road.

All three musicians are known for their commanding stage presences, but when they perform together it feels less like a collaboration and much more like an unplanned happening, just as they did before adopting the Middle Brother moniker. At times, all three might even switch up on the songs. They had a similar approach in the studio, structuring the songs to play to each of their strengths.

The collaboration even has an historic element as all three of the singer-songwriters are at potent moments in their careers. All three are attracting solid followings for their respective bands. And sometimes, when touring together, it's not uncommon for the singers to pull double duty, adding on Middle Brother songs after both bands have performed on their own.

Middle Brother Blends The Best Of Three Frontmen At 8.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Middle Brother has tours scheduled through April, including two shows at SXSW on March 18 and 19. The band has also added a free Middle Brother app on iTunes. The app includes twelve tracks from the album, six videos, tour dates, and even a self-contained fan wall. Watch for a special release sometime soon too. There are a few tracks that remain unreleased.

While the app is a great introduction, the album includes the bonus track and more versatility to add it to playlists. You can find the Middle Brother debut on iTunes. Middle Brother is also on iTunes and the debut can be found at Barnes & Noble.
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