Brothers Past - This Feeling's Called Goodbye CD



Brothers Past have spent much of the second half of their career trying to distinguish themselves from their trancefusionist Philadelphia brethren. 2002’s insomniac concept, A Wonderful Day, was a valiant effort, but the extended trance jams and weak, throaty vocals left the quartet still bouncing along with Philly’s crooked-capped, hippie-hop dreadheads, and the sad reality is that, fair or unfair, that audience carries the jamband stamp. As limiting as the j-word may be, however, the dubious distinction does allow the quartet an honor they wouldn’t receive otherwise. Whatever a jamband is, if Brothers Past is one, they’ve made the jam scene’s best pop record to date, in the most unaffected sense of the word. This Feeling’s Called Goodbye is focused, well-written, undoubtedly popular music that doesn’t let its abundant hooks tear its indie-art head or its improvisational heart to shreds.
Aside from Rick Lowenberg's double-time drum 'n' bass beat, the robotic, roller rink keyboards of opener "Leave the Light On" taste like pure 80s radio candy. Having finally found his voice on this third full-length, Tom Hamilton cries like Breakfast Club heartbreak and peppers the album's aching divorce theme with victimized frustration and injury. The thumping dance step of "Forget You Know Me" fades into brooding self-loathing smoothed over by Hamilton's acoustic guitar trance, and the lush vocal melodies could easily stand alongside eighties electro-pop stalwarts like Depeche Mode and New Order.

"Too Late to Call" skips the blips and bleeps completely, but This Feeling's brightest gems mix the album's ever-present electronics with big-chord guitar rock. While "One Rabbit Race" skips along with Hamilton's bubbling riff and waits for the chorus to vent its disillusions, "Simple Gift of Man" breaks out of its false comfort more forcefully, contrasting pensive trance and dub with 90s alternative guitar aggression to build and finally release tensions that would send any electro-jam freak into a noodling frenzy.

The album's occasional post-modern deconstructions might leave those same groove-hounds scratching their heads, but while Hamilton's post-modern disenchantment on "Celebrity" might grasp a little too hard for Radiohead-ism, the song's bright melody and chiming electronics outshine Thom Yorke's cyber-depressions. The Amnesiac beat of "Words Like Weapons" gives a poetic flow to the song's arhythmic stream-of-consciousness lyrical lashings, and the eerie, electronic obsessions of "Inhale" drain off into numb acoustic acceptance by the time "Exhale" rolls around.

Not to bash present company, but it's a shame that the only media outlets that will pay This Feeling's Called Goodbye any attention are web-based jam-mags like Jambands.com and The Home Grown Music Network, which will only reach half of Brothers Past's potential audience. While the Killers and Interpol get all the indie-scene credit for what ultimately amounts to rehashing, the Philadelphia foursome will be playing to summer jam festival crowds, half of whom will complain about the very thing that makes the band so appealing. For the moment, Brothers Past have neither transcended their jamband label nor placed themselves within another. This Feeling places them somewhere in between, but if they keep producing masterpieces like it, they will soon be in a class by themselves.

by Brian Gearing