REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Elder Brother assert themselves as mature sibling to The Story So Far and Daybreaker with impressive debut

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Guitarists Kevin Geyer and Dan Rose display chemistry and flair in indie rock collaboration that sees a marriage between two of the scene's top names.

Elder BrotherElder Brother – Heavy Head – Pure Noise Records (OUT NOW) 8/10

When musicians launch side projects a number of things can happen. Those from loud, thrashy bands often opt for showing off their sensitive side with a stripped back acoustic effort (see City and Colour), while those already in that camp might do the reverse, giving them an excuse to rock (Frank Turner's Möngöl Hörde). Then there are those who come up with something that sounds identical to their original camp, to the casual listener, at least. So it's refreshing, then, when a new project is neither predictable nor pointless.
Elder Brother is one band that thankfully falls into this latter group. The brainchild of
Daybreaker vocalist/guitarist
Dan Rose and
The Story So Far guitarist
Kevin Geyer, Elder Brother have put out a truly soild debut album in
Heavy Head that makes it almost insulting to refer to it as a mere 'side project'. Sitting closer in sound to the indie rock of Daybreaker than the ballsy pop punk of TSSF, the record is so obviously the product of a collaboration between guitarists, with the opening bars of first track
'Pennsylvania' paving the way for an album full of intricate, yet delicate, interweaving riffs. Geyer's surprise solo in this opening track shows skill and musicianship that he rarely gets the chance to exhibit in The Story So Far. Rose's voice will obviously be familiar to those who have listened to Daybreaker, but Elder Brother is an on -the-whole less jaunty affair, allowing his vocals to test varied dynamics and more nuanced melodies. Overall it's a rather sombre, reflective collection of songs, both musically and lyrically, poetically tackling the typical and well-trodden topics of love, loss and struggling with growing up. Rose and Geyer are joined on the record by
The American Scene's Matthew and Charles Vincent on bass and drums respectively, and the pair's stamp is particularly prominent on the likes of
'Throw Me to the Wolves' and
'Lightning Bug' – a pair of stand-out tracks driven by their offbeat, deep-end grooves. Elder Brother display their best work in these busier, built -up tracks, while the acoustic-based
'Any Sort of Plan',
'Who's Gonna Carry You Home?' and
'Sunday Mornings' float passed as far more run-of-the-mill singer-songwriter fare. Then there's the bizarre intermission skit
'A Slow Comfortable Deep Breath', where the booming, slowed-down voice of a seeming hypnotist speaks these words over and over again on top of jangly, early
Jimmy Eat World-esque guitars. Title track
'Heavy Head' encompasses the mood of the record perfectly, opening with the typically morbid question "Have you seen the place they keep the dead?" over picked minor chords before giving way to a slightly more uplifting chorus. Created by a a pair from possibly the final generation to whom emo is not a dirty word associated with bad hair dye and eyeliner,
Heavy Head harks back to the heartfelt, expansive alternative rock of the late Nineties and early Noughties, while even the angry young fans of the particularly 'of the moment' macho pop punks The Story So Far should have no shame in giving the record a spin in their more sentimental moments. It's all perfect listening for drizzly Sunday afternoons, so get listening before the summer arrives and the sun drives us in search of something altogether more cheerful!
Big thanks to Jake at Pure Noise