By Ian Ong, Centerspread Editor
Inspired by soul and rock, “From Earth” represents an impressive combination of both new and old school influence, described by the band as “indie blues.” Comprised of Conestoga alumni Conor McCarthy on guitar, Hannah McCarthy with vocals, Bubba McShane on bass, Brendan Bird on drums and CJ Nave (who did not attend Conestoga) on keyboard and saxophone, local band Brothers and Sisters released their debut album “From Earth” last November, featuring eight original tracks. The band itself feels that music is a way to bring people together and unite them as equals, which is a philosophy truly present in the lyrics, structure and melodies of “From Earth.” Here, I review a few of my favorite tracks from this amazingly diverse album, a testament to the fact that, in McCarthy’s words, “‘From Earth’ is just the beginning.”
The album begins strong with its first tune, “Dirty Love,” featuring soul-inspired lyrics and a sweeping guitar riff that listeners will find themselves humming for days. Setting the indie blues tone for the album, the song showcases what the band has to offer: stunning vocals, precise beats and guitar solos akin to those of Brian May. The song speaks to the nature of human vice and the search for liberation from the titular “dirty love” and the feelings arising from it. Listeners who enjoy this audacious starter song are tasting but a sample of Brothers and Sister’s bold style of combining the power of soul, rock and R&B.
“California” is a ballad that longs for sunnier shores and better times. Driven by McShane’s bassline, the song transports listeners to a colorful place where they can rest and reminisce on the good old days before returning to their hectic lives. Dynamic vocals paint a beautiful picture of the natural world and the tenderness of being together with somebody, simply enjoying the time spent together. The lyrics are descriptive and poetically soothing: “I am like the Moon, surrounded by stars, stuck in the dark.” More slow-paced in nature, “California” is perfect for chilling out on a lazy Sunday or a rainy day that needs just a bit more sunshine.
“From Earth” shows great variety with “Hometown,” an upbeat yet bittersweet track that explains the longing a person has for their roots. Beginning with a delicate guitar melody, the song has a slight swing and an excellent vocal duet performed by both McCarthys. Nave’s suave solo on the sax pays homage to smooth jazz and creates a calming and dreamlike atmosphere that permeates the entire tune. The lyrics for “Hometown” were written and rewritten by the vocalists over the course of many nights, finally culminating in a product that speaks directly to the listener’s soul. “We wanted to paint a picture of a place where you can escape the pressures of society and be free to reminisce in the great memories of home,” Conor McCarthy said.
The last song and my personal favorite off of the album, “Lazarus” is inspired by the biblical tale of Lazarus of Bethany, who was resurrected by Jesus by means of a great miracle. Starting off with an amazingly ominous riff, the guitar gives way a desolate chorus about the inner demons and insanity of a desert-bound person with “dry lips and tired eyes.” Then, in a stroke of song-writing genius, the tempo jumps up and lays a foundation for a radical musical conversation between McCarthy on guitar and Nave on keyboard, closing out with a strong drum solo from Bird before returning to the chorus. Dangerous and abrupt, “Lazarus” is a tune that will appeal to any rock lover and is an outstanding finish to Brothers and Sister’s debut album “From Earth.”
Note: The album is available at a name-your-price rate at https://brothersandsistersmusic.bandcamp.com/album/from-earth.
Ian Ong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.