A lot of albums have come and gone this year without a listen from me. It's like this most years: There's simply too much new, noteworthy music to keep up with when having an active life outside of sitting at my dekstop for hours on end. Usually these releases are ones I haven't heard hide nor hair from, and crop up towards the end of the year after a slow, steady gathering of buzz. This year, however, it seems that one of the best discs of 2011 was one I was supposedly anticipating but had languished in my iTunes library, unlistened, for months after it's release. That album? The debut by indie rock supergroup Middle Brother.
There was no reason for me not to like - Nay, love - Middle Brother. The group, after all, is comprised of the frontmen of my three favorite "non-Devotchka bands that start with the letter D": Dawes, Delta Spirit, and Dear Tick. However, after being let down in the past by supposed "super" groups of the alternative persuassion (Namely Bad Books, the collaboration of Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine that was more like a split LP than a collab, and Monsters of Folk, the supergroup no one asked for.), I just couldn't muster up the excitement to care about Middle Brother. I mean, honestly, so far as supergroups go, Traveling Wilburys inarguably did it best so why bother trying? Leave it to Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith to prove me wrong.
Middle Brother features an impressing array of tracks that showcase the talent of each member in turn all the while still sounding like a collaboration. No one gets overshadowed and each guy's talents are showcased in equal parts, in equal turns.
The band's titular track recalls the supremely talented Jonny Corndawg. "Thanks For Nothing" is a sunny-sounding track for the unlucky in love, with Goldsmith and Deartick's John McCaully harmonizing like sweet baby angels. "Someday" is a completely sincere 1960's romp, complete with a choir of girl-group "Ah"s. "Blood and Guts", however, takes top honors here. A track from Goldsmith's old Simon Dawes days, "Blood and Guts" is a rarity that made an appearance during the band's first Daytrotter session and is a song that I always hoped would show up on Dawes's new record. I loved "Blood and Guts" upon first listen. To hear that it's only gotten better with age has forced me, with Middle Brother, to rethink my aversion to supergroups and embrace the sound.