As far as first impressions go, I’m expecting something manically wild and beastly from The Experience Brother’s latest album, From the Deepest Growl. On the album cover there is a baboon screaming at me, and the backdrop is a deep, fiery red. Bold yellow font spells out ‘The Experience Brothers’ – a band name that could only stem out of an admiration for the most important guitar player of all time, Jimi Hendrix. At this point, I’ve yet to settle myself down in my little corner and hit the play button on my record player, but I’m already anticipating some good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.
On From The Deepest Growl, The Experience Brothers embody the spirit of the flower children with their simple yet poetic lyrics. This is nothing entirely new for the band, especially when one takes into consideration their earlier material in Summer of Love (2008) and Eye Contact (2010). While previously they have taken an angrier, more literal approach, this time round they express their disillusion and disappointment through ambiguous statements that could relate to practically anyone – be it a foolish former lover or a rogue, corrupt politician.
It is almost as if you are sitting at the table nearest to the forgotten bluesman at the local coffeeshop. He is plucking his guitar delicately as he coos, “You used to be a lion but you don’t remember”. The melody is particularly pleasant one, perhaps unsurprisingly so. His faded flower power bellbottoms and permanent smile (obscured slightly by his beard) indicate a lively and colourful mind as he continues, “We have wrong / We have been wrong all the time”. You’re trying your hardest to nonchalantly sip your coffee while observing this curious talent when the both of you make eye contact; and he once again breaks into, “You used to be a lion but you don’t remember”. Suddenly, you’re struck with the realization that all this time, he wasn’t singing about anyone else, but you.
The anthem of the forgotten bluesman, ‘Lion’, is quite possibly the only track that has a mellow feel in the entire album; for the bulk of it is an exercise in heavy rock ‘n’ roll. Justifiably, it provides the album with a sizzling start; guitarist/vocalist Bram’s guitar is ablaze and thoughtfully complemented by stylistic drum patterns from Daud, his brother and partner in crime. The band’s attention to detail also hits the mark. The subtle use of a distorted guitar tremolo effect on ‘Different Planet’ provides delightful effervescence and on ‘Too Many Fire’ a bewitching manipulation of the track’s main instrumental refrain oozes an exciting, exotic flavour.
Midway through the album however, the music increasingly feels like a series of recycled riffs. Moments that should have been energetic and rousing come across as more self-indulgent than meaningful. The potential in ‘Nevermind’ is downplayed by a less than stellar arrangement. An annoying guitar squeak during chord changes on ‘You Can Run but Can’t Hide’ is a significant blemish that can’t seem to be unheard. The opening notes of ‘You Got Me’ feel oddly familiar, and soon enough it feels more like a B-side to earlier track, ‘Young, Wild and Free’. (Granted, my perception of the track would probably be more positive if I hadn’t listened to its more muscular cousin.)
Despite it all, The Experience Brothers remain committed to the cause and aren’t afraid to cause a musical racket. It is an admirable tenacity, that helps craft a consistent and well executed album. As a whole, From the Deepest Growl makes for a crackling listen, though perhaps less savage than the screaming baboon on its cover suggests.
1. Something Wrong
2. Different Planet
3. Too Many Fire
5. Young, Wild and Free
6. Devil’s Hand
7. Head Made From Stone
8. You Got Me
10. You Can Run but Can’t Hide
11. Freedom Anthem