The Dreaming Spires – Brothers In Brooklyn
Americana is often an area of nerves for a first time listener; many people are unsure of going there and can be turned away by its lack of direct connection. The music is so steeped in traditions that if you have never listened to The Band or late incarnations of The Birds it is difficult to reap the benefits. The benefits do come however, just like any genre from blues to punk-when a listener knows something of its history it opens up a new appreciation for music.
The Dreaming Spires are a band steeped in tradition; their record Brothers In Brooklyn is tinged with Gram Parsons, Neil Young and Tom Petty. The core of the band is made up of The Bennett brothers-Robin and Joe, who between them have a remarkable pedigree playing with Garth Hudson from The Band, touring America with Mark Gardner from Ride and jamming with Mercury Rev. In fact when learning of this pedigree listening to Brothers in Brooklyn makes more sense, ‘Everything All Of The Time’ an upbeat pop song that owes more to band like Ride or The Boo Radleys than the 60’s generation.
The songs are simple, the melodies catchy and obvious, but there is a certain soul that resonates through each that makes them more listenable than they should be. ‘Not Every Song From The Sixties Is A Classic’ is cult song in the making, the band finding the humour in producing an ironic take on the 60’s pop tunes of The Mumma’s and Pappa’s or Sonny and Cher. Perhaps the thing that makes The Dreaming Spires so instantly likeable is the amount of fun you know they were having writing and recording these songs, you can hear it in the music.
Its refreshing to listen to a band that completely embrace their influences rather than striving to be innovative but difficult to listen to. The Spires don’t try anything fancy and if you have heard any of their songs and enjoyed it the album will present you with more of the same. It is a pleasure to listen to an LP that revels in the classic song structures and in that way makes each song a possible gem.
‘Laughing and Dancing’ sounds so homemade the band could be in the next room, a country song laden with beautiful harmonies and banjo picking. The clash of styles is surprising at times, the next song ‘Cathie’ is a Springsteen power ballad that flies out of the speakers-you almost cant believe it hasn’t been written before. Then the albums title track comes in, beginning with a funky beat that is built upon with pianos and acoustic guitars and ends up becoming similar to Jackson Browne.
Brothers in Brooklyn finishes with two tracks show the class of The Spires, first ‘Strength of Strings’, not a cover of Gene Clarke’s ballad but a 80’s style post punk influenced slowie that strikes an emotional chord. Then to finish ‘The Dream inspires’ a play on their own name and a piano ballad that sounds like Badly Drawn Boy with a slide guitarist, further exposing the groups talent in most musical forms.
The sheer breadth of expertly played music on Brothers in Brooklyn makes it an album that will be greatly appreciated, not only by the fans but also by the musicians themselves which is both surprisingly rare and heart-warming to consider.