Sour Bruthers EP

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Submitted by Jason Hillenburg

The Chicago based group debuts with a self-titled EP effort illustrating a remarkable understanding of traditional music and the needed imagination to transform it. Their transformation gives this EP release a distinctively individual quality unlike what we hear from many Americana themed acts today. It’s a tricky balance to maintain fidelity to a particular form while still bringing something of yourself to it that doesn’t move it too far from its roots. Sour Bruthers realizes that ambition straight out of the gate with this self-titled studio release and polishes off the collection with robust production capturing the spirit of these songs and rendering the band’s approach with clarity and balance. Sour Bruthers enter a crowded field, this style of music proving increasingly popular once again and sustaining a niche musical community within popular culture, but they obviously possess the talent to stand out from the pack and claim a spot as theirs alone.

It’s all about the blues with the EP’s first track “Sinkin’ Down” and they work up a sweat with a burning, mid-tempo blooze strut with appropriately woozy, soulful vocals and some lightning hot slide guitar licks tossed into the mix. The chorus sticks to you, as well, without ever being too hamfisted in its presentation – highlighting how the Sour Bruthers serve up recognizable styles, but bring taste and nuance to bear in ways most bands of their ilk ignore. They bring some organ into the mix with the EP’s second track “Better Days” and this brisk tune has a much brighter, commercial edge distinguishing it. The vocals are more than up for the challenge of taking on nominally poppier material and it’s certain to be a crowd pleaser that’s accessible to a wider array of listeners than usual. They back off the rambunctious electrified attack with the song “3 a.m.” and, instead, pick up a Tom Petty-ish singer/songwriter groove that’s quite believable in their hands. The vocal harmonies are nicely handled and there’s a pleasant jangle to the song well complemented by the melodic, unwinding piano weaving through the mix.

We’re back with a solid rock stomp on the song “Wash Away” and it has a theatrical side to its sound and structure we didn’t hear with the EP’s first two tracks. There’s some light post-production effects applied to the vocals, but never so much that they lose their punch. The EP’s finale “Release Me” is a careening, rollicking tribute to the blues rock sound running strong through the band’s musical DNA, but there’s definitely some hints of boisterous country honkytonk peeking through as well. Sour Bruthers are really quite inspired on this debut and the album’s six blazing originals sets them apart from the cookie cutter fare we’re too often subjected to from this style. These are songs immediately ready for their set list and, undoubtedly, will prove to be even more potent live than they are presented here. Sour Bruthers’ self titled EP is the equivalent of a boxer coming out of their corner swinging in the first round and the Chicago four piece scores a conclusive knockout with this release.

BANDCAMP: palemonsters.bandcamp.com/track/all-this-time-we-wait