Brothers Egg: Bleeding Slow

Karmic Fury Records reviews Brothers Egg's release Bleeding Slow

Brothers Egg Bleeding SlowMy first listen of Bleeding Slow came as I was racing across the Arizona desert on my way back to the east coast from a meandering road trip. The thoroughfare of I-40 stretches from California all the way to Wilmington, NC and I thought it appropriate to pop in some music from home as I picked up the road that would lead me back. Indeed, I experienced a blend of travel euphoria and homesickness as the sun set at my back, driving drum beats countered by sweet melodies, a collection of songs that serves as a love letter of sorts, expressed with a distinctly North Carolina twang.

The core of Brothers Egg consists of brothers Jamie Eggleston (vocals, guitar, piano, banjo) and Hunter Eggleston (mandolin, vocals), and Suzanna Crist (violin, vocals). The three are joined by a cast of solid musicians, including their father Dave Eggleston on drums. Both Eggleston brothers began as drummers before leaning toward string instruments and expanding musical styles that lead to the founding of Brothers Egg.

The title track, “Bleeding Slow,” is probably my favorite track, featuring Hunter Eggleston’s steady mandolin riff weaving throughout, along with harmonica that sounds like a train whistle, driving bass, and banjo. Lead singer Jamie Eggleston delivers his lines with passionate urgency, assisted by some nice harmonies throughout. The instrumentation on “Bleeding Slow” is lush and as close to rock as one can come armed with mandolins and banjos.

“Moonbeat” highlights a catchy fiddle/mandolin melody and three part harmonies, with a lilting beat like ocean waves. The lyrics are based on a poem written by Jenny Eggleston, mother of the Eggleston brothers, who also did the album artwork.

“Dance With Me” is a sweet serenade that could be the first dance at a picture perfect North Carolina wedding. Jamie Eggleston’s voice is passionate even as he almost whispers some of the lines, sweet and earnest. The band’s musicianship really shows about halfway through, when violinist Suzanna Crist takes the lead and kicks the tempo into high gear with a full on bluegrass jam. If you aren’t convinced to dance by the five minute mark, you must really hate dancing. The song changes again at around the six minute mark, easing into 3/4 time. At first I thought it was the beginning of another song and I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t, because I would have loved to hear where that beautiful melody was going.

“After All”, the only song on which all three members of Brothers Egg share writing credits, addresses love within the context of mortality: “After all is said and done and washed away/We will fall back to mother earth from which we came.” The musical arrangement is a stark one, consisting only of two voices in harmony accompanied by guitar and violin. The stripped down nature really allows emotions to shine through, showing that sometimes simplicity is the right choice.

The band moves into a more creative and experimental space on “Dreamer,” which alternates between a dreamscape feel on the verses and a rockabilly groove on the choruses. Andy Blair steps in for some nice guitar licks, adding a different texture to the song without being overbearing.

“Take a Chance on Me” is straightforward, simple, and sweet, a heartfelt plea to convince a woman to take a chance on the “wild card,” a sort of bluegrass version of the Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes.” There is a great fiddle solo after the bridge, and a bonus banjo jam at the end by local folk/bluegrass legend Big Al Hall.

The final track on the album feels very much like a group of friends hanging out in a living room having fun and playing music, complete with a “1,2,3!” lead-in, a typically bluegrass bass line, a hoot/holler or two, and some call and answer harmonies. “Carolina Wren” is a short song, based on another Jenny Eggleston poem. The music itself ends abruptly just after the two-minute mark, and the CD ends with almost a full thirty seconds of an actual wren singing, which I appreciate as a nature lover as well as a lover of unconventional album endings.

Bleeding Slow is solid folk with some well-done creative embellishments, a showcase for Brothers Egg’s musical talent and ambitions, and a suitable choice for a Carolina-bound roadtrip. Learn more about Brothers Egg and get a copy of Bleeding Slow at http://brothersegg.com.

Brothers Egg

Stray Local: Debut EP Review

Karmic Fury Records reviews Stray Local's first release

Stray Local, the amazing three-piece featured in a recent KFR show review, just released their debut EP. We got our hands on a copy in anticipation of their official CD release show this coming weekend at Ted’s in Wilmington.

The artwork is light, featuring a blue acoustic guitar on the front and a purple mandolin on the back, both placed on a bright yellow background with very little text. These two instruments are actually beautiful paintings by vocalist Hannah Lomas, similar to paintings and handmade artwork displayed at shows. The design is simple and captures the band’s unassuming vibe.

The EP itself is very much a representation of what the band sounds like live – polished, no frills, unadulterated folk music that isn’t buried under effects. So often a band releases a recording that does not do them justice, and we were relieved that this very much wasn’t the case with Stray Local. The music comes across as a slightly cleaner version of what is already an excellent live performance, stripped of background noise but not of the organic energy of the songs themselves. It is a credit to both the band and audio engineer Jeff Reid for recognizing what the band does well and not ruining it with studio bells and whistles.

The six songs included on the EP represent the band well. “Invisible Man” is the upbeat leading number, featuring guitar, mandolin, percussion, and harmonies in the traditional bluegrass style. It’s a rousing number about a rambler, “in his own town but never at home…the one you ignore as he walks past your door.” Vocalists Hannah Lomas and Jamie Rowen harmonize throughout, including an a cappella chorus, while percussionist Nick Simon keeps perfect time on the snare and tambourine.

“Pretty Little Setback” describes a tempting yet toxic relationship featuring strong and sassy vocals from Lomas, killer blues guitar riffs from Rowen, and a funky beat on the cajon from Simon. It’s here that we get to hear some of the intricacies in the instrumentation that are often lost in a loud music venue. In fact, we lamented that there was not an extended jam with some hot blues guitar from Rowen and some vocal jazz riffs from Lomas, with perhaps even a cajon solo thrown in at the end. When something sounds this good, two short minutes just isn’t enough.

“Perfect for You” is a lilting mid-tempo number that speaks of an unrequited crush and sounds sweet and tender, despite the fact that Lomas laments, “Why don’t you see me, I’m standing right here?” Rowen’s backing vocals are gentle and show off his higher range. He also contributes a solid harmonica solo halfway through the song. Lomas shows the ease of her vocal control here as well, while Nick Simon carries the song with a clean brushed beat on the bassy cajon.

The EP continues on in the gentle vein with a wrenching ballad called “Let You Go,” another number that shines in subtlety on the recording. The balance between Lomas’ and Rowen’s voices is absolutely perfect and they both expertly convey an air of soul-crushing heartbreak. It’s the most somber of love songs, both believable and beautiful, with lines like “You gave yourself so honestly and always loved wholeheartedly…If I could let you go, my dreams would be empty.” If people still made break-up mixtapes, this song would be on it.

Luckily, the tears dry fast once the band launches into “All In,” a fun foot stomping love/gambling analogy. Although the song comes across a bit less raucous on recording than it does live (as it should), it’s still an incredibly fun song that will get stuck in your head. Listen to it and try not to find yourself tapping your foot and singing the catchy chorus to yourself afterward, “Go all in, I’ll double down, I’ll wager something high, you’re the girl I’ve been waiting for, I’ll be with ’til I die.” We dare you.

“Shutdown Shakedown” is a good ol’ fashioned banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and washboard instrumental that is the perfect closer for this well-rounded EP. Stray Local is a band that plays their instruments well and knows exactly who they are. Their debut is well done all across the board and we can’t wait to see what they deliver next.

Stray Local is holding their CD Release Party in conjunction with the Third Birthday Celebration for beloved acoustic music haven Ted’s Fun on the River on Saturday, February 1st from 7-9pm. Check out the Facebook event here.

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