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The Brutalists

The Brutalists

Review by Gary Hill

This album joins an already crowded group as a potential entry into my "best of 2018" list. The music here is just so much fun. It seems to live in a zone ranging from retro rock of bands like The Who, The Kinks and The Stones to punk acts like The Clash and even includes some disco and reggae elements. It's sort of a supergroup featuring members of The Quireboys and LA Guns. This is the debut set from this act. As strong as this is, I hope to hear lots more from them.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Don't Believe a Word
The guitar sound at the start of this makes me think of garage rock. The cut gets some serious reggae built into it from there. This is a classy sounding rocker that feels like it would have fit well in the late 1960s. The organ contributes to that retro texture, but the whole piece oozes it. I love the melodic guitar soloing on this thing. The mellower dropped back segment brings a soulful edge and a bit of an early Rolling Stones reference point.
Wishing I Was Far Away
This psychedelic rocker really makes me think of The Who and The Yardbirds perhaps with a bit of The Kinks added to the mix. It's packed full of energy and is a real stomper. It's catchy and has some killer guitar sound.
Form & Function
The bass here brings some funky disco texture to the track. There is a definite reggae element in the guitar textures. This makes me think of 70s Stones perhaps mixed with some punk rock and ska. Yet there is still plenty of psychedelia built into this, too.
Meet Me Half Way
With a lot of that old school rock sound still in the mix, there is a lot of punk here, too. Perhaps the closest comparison is The Kinks. Yet there is some reggae here and some more modern sound, too. Still, it has some definite old school rock and roll, particularly in the instrumental section.
Jungle Nasty
I love the riff that drives this thing. It has some more of that reggae element as the second guitar joins. I'm reminded just a bit of Lords of the New Church. There is definitely a punk rock vibe to this thing - think The Clash. Still, it has a lot of retro texture, too. The synthesizer groove as part of the instrumental section is classy. The gang vocal chorus after that is so cool, too. This is one of my favorite songs of the disc. Given the competition that says a lot.
Talk of the Town
A cleaner guitar sound opens this thing. The cut works out with more of a psychedelic rock texture. This has some hints of that Clash thing, but perhaps blended with The Kinks and even The Byrds. This  is catchy and a lot of fun.
Look Whatcha Gone and Done
Punk, funk and reggae are all a part of the mix here. This is another high energy, riff driven rocker that's so cool. It's just a lot of fun.
Know Your Value
The bass on this brings some definite disco edge to the cut. The overall sound reminds me a bit of something like The Cure. That said, the chorus has a lot of reggae built into it. This has a lot of old school 60s rock at its core, too.  The disco and reggae merge to drive the later parts of the cut. The guitar fills on that section are so tasty.
Nutter

The guitar riff that opens this brings a timeless old school rock and roll vibe to it. As the other instruments and vocals join, that's really reinforced. This has some punky edge to it, but it's also so retro styled that it's downright crazy. I can make out a lot of Stray Cats in this, but with some hints of things like Motorhead, too. This is one of the most fun numbers here. It has some smoking hot guitar soloing, too. As good as the rest is, this might be my favorite here.

You Got It
Fast paced and energized, this riff driven rocker has a bit of a Kiss element as it opens. The tune turns more punky from there. Overall it makes me think of what you might get if Ace Frehley were to collaborate with The Clash. This does earn a parental advisory. It's the most raw thing here.
Bonus Tracks
               
Enough of Me

I dig the guitar sound that starts this. The number has a great mix of punk rock and vintage 1960s rock. It drops to a mellower movement for the verse. The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds are both valid reference points here. This is another fun one.

Drinking Alone
Early Beatles, the Kinks and more seem to merge on this number. It has some cool guitar riffs, catchy chorus lines, and just plain rocks. It's another fun tune. It's one that lands more fully in the retro zone.
 
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