Album Review: Bravefellow – Spoils of War EP

By on Tuesday, 21st December 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

For years I have whinged about the stranglehold of American radio by rock groups like Nickelback – middle of the road stuff your mum or your grade school teacher would not find objectionable but having absolutely no hope of grabbing my heart at all – but I think I may have found a potential light in the darkness. Bravefellow from Kansas City, Missouri, may be from the Midwest and these days, I am usually very scared when I get press kits from bands from that area (*cough* Kings of Leon *cough*), this band have named Snow Patrol, Muse and the Killers as musical touchstones and their press materials say their music is “subtly influenced by popularised Brit-rock”. Let me say I breathed a sigh of relief!

This quartet, starring Brad Allen Johnson on lead vocals, Andy Fox on guitar, Shaun Alexander on bass and Michael Krueger on drums, have just put out an EP in October called ‘Spoils of War’. What about this EP do I find most satisfying? Familiarity. For someone like me who has been in love with British music since I was a sprog, it’s as welcome putting on the jumper your nan knitted you when you were 10. It’s obvious Bravefellow are scholars of great bands of yesteryear. My ears perked up upon hearing ‘Cold Blooded Lovers’ because of its similarity to House of Love’s 1987 breakthrough single ‘Shine On’. But Johnson’s voice is very compelling, quite possibly more so than the one from ’80s London I’m comparing it to. I realise this could be potentially unsettling to the Guy Chadwick fans out there, so let’s move on…

‘Moving Fast’ starts sultry – think of the dark intro of the Police’s ‘Don’t Stand Too Close to Me’ – but then goes into true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, with driving guitar (arguably the best part of this track, really laying into you). I really like the ending too – you don’t really get rock songs that end with a satisfying bit of feedback. ‘You Will Never Know’ begins with janglings ala the Edge in ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’. Johnson’s husky voice even sounds a bit like Bono’s in this. Thankfully, it turns softer, then soars – dare I say Tom Chaplin-esque? (Actually, I take that back. I will say that confidently. The lyrics even sound Keane-ish. That’s a compliment, by the way.)

But the best song of this set of four is track #2, ‘Disarming’, for which I can’t find a song from music’s past to measure it up to. The drums, bass and screaming guitar with vocals dripping with conviction deliver one heck of a punch – wow. It’s like getting socked in the stomach, which is what a good, rough-around-the-edges rock song should do. This is some good stuff. “Are you ready / are you ready / are you ready for this?” asks Johnson. I’d say yes, without a doubt. Time for Kings of Leon to take a topple? You didn’t hear it from me…

There’s a lot to love about Bravefellow – they’ve studied the masters, they’ve got the talent. Now all they need to do is put out an album that reflects who they really are and where they want to go. They’ve got nothing to lose. Considering Mona impressed UK music critics so quickly and soundly this year and showed up at #1 on our 10 for 2011 poll, Bravefellow could be the next big American rock band to make waves.

9/10

‘Spoils of War’ by Bravefellow was released on Landlock Records and is available from iTunes.

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4 Responses

7:50 pm
22nd December 2010

Thanks for the kind words for this great new band. Here in KC will all love their music.

12:15 am
26th December 2010

This is the best new band to come along in years!

9:05 pm
21st March 2011

I’ve found a ton of great music on this website, don’t know how you find all of this stuff, but thanks!

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