O’Brother – ‘Garden Window’

By Clara Cullen

Produced by Mike Sapone (Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Public Enemy), O’Brother’s ‘Garden Window’ is an album of powerful rock that lifts your spirits and tells the hair on your neck to stay raised for the duration. Putting O’Brother in a genre is a tricky business; their music encompasses so much variety and depth that it is a near impossible task. The thick layers of percussion, vocals, feedback and a rich gritty feeling leave the listener’s senses licked with brilliance.

The haunting vocals of Tanner Merritt give the record a punch that has been missing in this kind of rock genre since Thrice so elegantly tore there way clear of all opposition. This is a fitting comparison in some senses and is acknowledged through O’Brother’s support slot with Thrice on their winter farewell tour. A career-defining nod from all in the scene if nothing else is and a tour support, which comes of the back of equally impressive slots with The Manchester Orchestra, Biffy Clyro and Circa Survive.

The opening track ‘Malum’ is heavy and eerie, haunting and infectious. It sucks you into the black hole of beauty, which the album ‘Garden Window’ represents. It conjures up thoughts of machines and post apocalyptic imagery. Merritt’s vocals are set to inspire, to invoke emotion, to wake a nation from their sleep.

The eeriness of the intro track is left behind temporarily for a more upbeat pop-rock offering in ‘Lo’ which has similarities with QOTSA and ‘Songs for the Deaf’. It is easy to see the influence of Sapone and particularly The Manchester Orchestra and Brand New. Every track on this album builds, as all good rock songs do, into blistering oral delights and ‘Lo’ doesn’t disappoint. The souring vocals and sing-along anthem of this track instantly marks it as a future crowd pleaser and stand out track. Merritt’s lyrics are cryptically brilliant throughout “Lo, my eager eyes will know the truth come the day when it’s pouring from my lifeless mouth”.

‘Poison’ brings in an element of Portishead or Radiohead, a cacophony of drowning beauty, which is exceptional. This album punches a hole through your heart, through your soul, through any opposition in the field. ‘Poison’ starts like a scratched 7” from a film, turning up the pressure the band imposes on the listener. There are beautiful guitar parts throughout this album, suspending your oral pallet with pulsating beauty.

This album has dimensions for everybody. It is moody, it has rhythm and vocal depth, it paints a vivid story in your mind, it grips you by the soles of your feet and carries you aloft down O’Brother’s twisted, beautiful, fairy-tale adventure.
There is real, true and justified excitement around this band and with this debut release, it is easy to see why.

Merritt’s vocal range becomes evident throughout the album, with ‘Machines part 1’ and ‘Machines part 2’ highlighting his ability to deliver on various styles.

‘Cleanse me’ is the heaviest track on the album in parts, but is crafted with juxtaposed auras of stillness. This is totally different record to most on the circuit today. It is cleverly crafted by musicians who understand how to craft an album, not just make songs and put them on CD.

O’Brother are doing a host of shows in the US over the next few weeks, and this hotly tipped young 5 piece are creating waves in the scene. Genuine excitement grows for O’Brother and there is no reason not to get fully on board.


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