A couple of my mates, when faced with a band that we’ve seen a couple of times, love to use the phrase: “they’ve never kicked on” to talk about an act that is playing the same venue as we saw them in last time.
I disagree with them generally, because to be honest, not every band can be Metallica, not every band can be selling out stadiums, getting gold discs, having their cleaning lady polishing the West Wing of their mansion.
And, some bands are happy going under the radar. Furthermore, I guess The Brew are one of them.
This is album number six for the Humberside based trio, and maybe that alone is a clue. Away from the bright lights and up there in Grimsby, they do their own thing. Big in Germany, signed to an Austrian based record label and – if we are honest – a little unheralded in their homeland. And “Art Of Persuasion” is yet more classy hard rock, that most probably isn’t going to change that too much.
With The Brew, what you see is what you get. They aren’t rock stars, they are a father and son (Drummer Kurtis and bass player Tim are related) and they have Jason Barwick completing the line up with his roaring voice and ability to kick out some fine guitar, and whilst this album is another one to be filed under The Brew’s of above average collection of music, it arguably isn’t going to have the million dollar single to get them into the mainstream.
Which, to bring me back to my original point, I ask the question: is it meant to? Would they be comfortable in the limelight? Would they even wat to water down their vision?
Opener “Seven Days Too Long” sets the tone. A chugging, really dirty, meaty bass groove, this is in its own way as mighty as bands like Wolfmother, and you’d struggle to imagine this wasn’t released in the 70s.
“One Line Crimes” is shorter, less verbose, harder hitting, but it still ferments in The Brew’s own way, and that way is to rely on groove to carry the thing. “Boomerang Fool” does much the same.
And actually, if this album has a flaw, its that there is not a huge amount of light and shade. It’s done superbly, all of it, but ploughs much the same furrow – or at least it does until you give it time, because repeated listens reveal more. “Gin Soaked Loving Queen” has the catchiest hook here and the collection benefits, “Naked As I Stand” is another excellent song and one played by a band at the top of their game. Barwick’s solo here in particular is right from the blues top draw.
Maybe that lack of an obvious single doesn’t matter? Maybe they know it themselves. As they put it on “Pointless Pain” over a stomping riff, “I don’t care if you remember me….”, but then there’s a real class about “Excess” that makes that one a real highlight.
“Carry The News” turns down the bluster, and although you wouldn’t call it a ballad, it is slower, more deliberate, which is juxtaposed really nicely by “Ghost Of The Nation” which is reminiscent of the Little Angels in their “Jam” era. Indeed, the ending “Pink Noise King” lives up to its name by offering something more psychedelic, maybe a little brooding – but goodness, how it explodes into life.
So, as they are well into their second decade as a band, you won’t find a band more comfortable in their own skin. They’ll probably never persuade the general public to make them stars, but for the trio in general and with “Art Of Persuasion” in particular, The Brew have made something that is true to themselves – and I’d bet you that is way more important to them.