CD Review of The Moonlit Race EP by The Brother Kite
Recommended if you like
The Beach Boys, Lush,
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Label
Clairecords
The Brother Kite:
The Moonlit Race EP

Reviewed by Michael Fortes

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F
alling squarely into that category of young indie bands worshiping at the altar of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, the Brother Kite have a tendency to drench their power pop in oceans of reverb. The shoegaze effect of it all makes even their most joyous tunes sound thick and moody, as if Brian Wilson’s old Baldwin organ on Smiley Smile were being played in a massive echo chamber.

After so many spins of that Beach Boys Smiley record, the Brother Kite’s second album, 2006’s Waiting for the Time to Be Right, almost represents a welcome “follow-up” to that classic, sometimes overlooked 1967 gem – only with more guitars and no pot-fueled giggles.

The young Providence band now winds up its fifth year of existence with a six-track EP culling together some odds and ends, while also reprising the Flaming-Lips-if-they-rocked-harder single “Get On, Me.”

Aside from the already-logged opener, another previously released tune anchors the set. “Half Century,” which makes its debut on a TBK release after appearing on the free downloadable compilation Warm and Scratchy (offered by the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” web site), is a typically uptempo indie rock single driven by Matt Rozzero’s brisk drumming.

The most revealing and sublime moment on the disc is saved for the very end – an alternate mix of “Waiting for the Time to Be Right.” Stripped of the organ that introduces the LP version, Patrick Boutwell’s reverberating a capella vocal intro is left to float in the air – and without the organ, this track serves as the strongest link to the band’s Pet Sounds fetish, as it allows the vocal arrangements to shine. It gets even better once the chorus comes in, with Boutwell’s vocal accompanied only by Andrea Downs’ eerily Carol Kaye-esque bass line. The harmonies that follow from here need no further description – you know where they’re coming from and why. And while Boutwell’s voice has more grit and less angelic smoothness than the Brian Wilson of the 1960s, the emotional weight injected into the vocal lines more than make up the difference.

Which leads to the greatest praise for this EP: the presence of two drumless, stripped-down tunes in the striking acoustic rendition of “Hopeless and Unsung” and the alternate mix of “Waiting for the Time to Be Right” lend this quickie release a balance and sense of variety that will hopefully carry over to TBK’s next full length release. Even the short instrumental “Unearthed/Digging in the Dirt” adds yet another sonic texture to their palette – namely, the space rock mined by early Pink Floyd and, in more recent years, Doves.

These songs all have pretty melodies and a consistent, instantly identifiable sound, which in itself is an achievement. Ironically, for all their classic ‘60s pop touches, the songs themselves don’t particularly aspire for brain infestation – they end up more as emotional art-pop pieces, the kind that bear repeated listening especially well. At least until that Zombies jones returns…

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