Brother O’ Brother is a band from Indiana. There are two guys in the band: Chris Banta and Warner Swopes. Banta plays guitar and handles the vocals, while Swopes sits in the pocket. They’ve got a full-length album – 12 songs – dropping in May, called Neon Native.
A little background would probably clarify why I’m reviewing Neon Native, which, by the way, absolutely, positively kicks ass. I recently reviewed No Gods No Loss, the latest from the Sterile Jets. I guess the two bands know each other. Anyway, I got an email from Chris Banta, asking about the possibility of reviewing Neon Native. Frankly, I usually delete such requests immediately because I already have more music to review than I can handle. But Banta’s description of their sound – garage/blues/gospel – caught my interest. I’m glad I listened.
Essentially, Brother O’ Brother is a garage band with dense influences of blues and gospel. I know, I know, gospel rock sounds like an oxymoron, but in this case is it full-spectrum dominance, like vampires breeding with werewolves, a muscular graft-job. Excellent stuff!
Initially, I couldn’t put my finger on what Brother O’ Brother’s music reminded me of. And then it hit me – Jimi Hendrix marries AC DC: their offspring is Brother O’ Brother. There’s an indefinable element, a pulverizing rawness that prompts such an analogy. There’s a stochastic resonance to Brother O’ Brother’s sound that’s assertive and visceral, like a kick in the stomach.
These guys have got it going on.
Banta’s guitar work resembles corrosive particle winds from a galactic storm. Lots of fuzz buster that provides a layered sound: big, with a sensual, more alive than alive quality. His guitar, along with his vocals, really steer the music. The vocals – cool and proto-punk – demand special attention. Banta’s voice comes across as wickedly noxious and robust, like a potent cigar that’s too damn strong to smoke without turning green. In other words, the dude can belt it out.
Like most good drummers, Swopes hits hard and extends the sound of the snare, which gives the music a crazy, irresponsible ferocity. Drummers never receive much attention, but Swopes takes care of business like a gaudy old whore at a teamsters convention.
My favorite song on Neon Native is probably “R.O.S.E.” I say probably because I also liked “16 Flowers,” which begins with a Jimmy Page-like guitar riff, along with “I Got It,” which has a vicious punk flavor hidden inside. And, of course, “Widow Maker,” upon which Swopes makes the cymbals hiss like a pit full of vipers.
The only song I didn’t care for was “Sunshine.” It sounds too 80s hair band for me. But hey, eleven out of twelve ain’t bad. Eleven superb songs on one album is a win-win for everybody.
You need to check these guys out. As soon as it drops, pick up a copy of Neon Native. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry.
Indianapolis garage-blues firebrands Brother O’ Brother have released a video for Sunshine, taken from new album Neon Native.
The song features the kind of slinky riff that used to keep Marc Bolan awake at night, allied to a blues n’ roll chorus that sounds like Girls Against Boys at their most grindingly lascivious. It burns.
“Sunshine in short is basically just about our love for being on the road and the lifestyle around it for us,” says frontman Chris Banta. We did nearly 100 dates last year and should pass a bit over 100 for the first time this year. Basically just eating garbage food, watching wrestling at every turn (we are total jobbers), and just being goons with band friends and people we meet on the road. We do all this while still holding down full time jobs, being married, kids, running Romanus Records [see below], and booking shows. The road truly is the sweet relief.
“When writing the song I had been on a huge T Rex and early Bowie kick and wanted that old school fuzz groove to come out. Warner [drummer Warner Snopes] brought the beat and I think we found it!”
The pair formed Brother O’ Brother in 2013 (initially as a trio, although they dropped the third member a year later), and have gone on to make three studio albums, mixing the devout fury of the MC5 with the stripped-down mechanics of The White Stripes or The Black Keys.
Banta’s label Romanus Records specialises in “unique forms of vinyl for both the collector and the listener.” Neon Native is one such project, released as a “Ravishing Native” limited edition of 25 handmade silver and gold copies and looking something like the floor mosaic in an expensive Turkish bath. It quickly sold out (as has the regular pressing; a repress has already been ordered).
Henry: This list would be incomplete without Brother Oâ€™ Brother. Crashing toms and cymbals? Check. Driving, distorted blues guitar? Check. Strong vocals and amazing musicality? Double check. Immerse yourself in the grandeur of garage rock and soul emanating from these guys; make sure you download their newest song here as well, who doesnâ€™t like free music?
Brother O’ Brother have released their video for “Wolf in Sheeps Clothing” and Impose has your first look. Hailing from Indianapolis, Chris Banta and Warner Swopes of Brother O’ Brother deal in raw, rootsy blues rock that has an almost religious fervor. The video for “Wolf in Sheeps Clothing” captures the duo’s rough and tumble energy in the context of a fitting horror narrative that embraces and heightens the tune’s themes.
Opening with a “meet cute” between a man and woman at a gas station, “Wolf in Sheeps Clothing” establishes its setting as an unassuming small town somewhere in middle America. As the two characters’ brief flirtation unfolds, a slow burn of horror and tension begins as the video smash cuts to haunting images. When the events shift to a secluded trailer deep in the woods, Brother O’ Brother tear into the song’s monstrous riff as the woman from the video’s opening is revealed to be a terrible, supernatural threat.
As the song powers along, hellfire and brimstone fills the screen as Chris Banta shouts lyrics like a revival preacher and Warner Swopes pummels the drums. A rock and roll ritual unfolds on screen, all flop sweat and fury as the viewer is drawn deeper and deeper into the darkness of the woods, flames and thunderous riffs and percussion surrounding them until the video draws to a close.
Brother O’ Brother
Brother Oâ€™ Brother are for real and their sophomore long player, Show Pony, is filled with energy, garage blues and never ending rock n roll. Those three ingredients are exactly what it takes Brother Oâ€™ Brother to make a good record. I could care less that the territory covered on Show Pony has been traveled before but that Chris Bantaâ€™s vocals and guitar with Warner Swopesâ€™ drums bring down the house. Not only do they give 110% throughout Show Pony but they supply plenty of diverse thoughts to keep Show Ponyâ€™s 10 tracks vibrant for its entire 35 minute running time.
6. Brother Oâ€™ Brother â€“Â Show Pony [Fonoflo Records]
While some listeners like to debate about which duo does blues-based rock nâ€™ roll best among the likes of The White Stripes and The Black Keys, the real clear winner of that battle would be Brother Oâ€™ Brother. Instead of marketing their music to skinny jean wearing hipsters in domestic beer commercials, this band puts their focus on delivering what we like about garage rock period. Grinding guitars, pulsating back beat, and furious showmanship all come together on what I call, one of the finest rock records of the year. Read my full reviewÂ HERE
“This dynamic duo gave me the best local release with Show Pony, they gave me the best live set I saw all year and they renewed my faith in the relevance of “band” battles. Some label needs to snatch these two up. They represent what I love and why I am so passionate about local original music. If you are a fan see them, if you are a venue book them!”
â€œI Confessâ€ from the Indianapolis act is dirty as a pair of shoes that have been running in the mud with Banta getting up close and personal with his lyrics and vocal delivery.Â Concluding the split 7-inch is Brother Oâ€™ Brother with the rabble rousing â€œI Got Itâ€, itâ€™s an emphatic song that resonates a plethora of vigor.
Indiana is displayed proudly on the cover of Brother Oâ€™ Brotherâ€™s newest single, a powerful reminder that no matter where you hang your hat, be it the Mississippi Delta, London, Paris, Munich or Indianapolis, you can still sing the blues.
Chris Bantaâ€™s half-shout, half-trill mantra on Means to Be a WomanÂ is an astute perspective on the perils most women face against the hoards of our oft-condemning culture. Â Slut or prudeâ€¦Your pick. Â Banta reminds us that â€œthese are our nieces, our mothers, our daughtersâ€, and that classic blues guitar riff sends the message straight to your gut. Â Give the man a podium, â€™cause Iâ€™m a believer. Â What about you?
I doubt their run of 100 singles will stay aroundÂ much longer. Â Grab one and file it next to your Reignwolf 7â€s.
After nearly an hour spent counting the votes, Brother ‘O Brother was named the champion, propelled to that point by another incendiary performance. Chris Banta is a maniac on the guitar, something audiences are all coming to realize. If there was anything else this two-man juggernaut could have done to win over the crowd, I can’t fathom it. Their latest album comes out in July and is sure to put them squarely at the center of national discussion.
They started early (!!!) and ripped into a raucous set filled with raging guitar, crashing drums and the highest performance energy Iâ€™ve seen in a loooonggg time (probably not since Murder City Devilsâ€™ and Nashville Pussyâ€™s showsÂ in the late 90â€²s). Banta was everywhere – jumping off the walls, rolling on the floor and a stroll down the bar, dumping ice water over his sweat-soaked head.
Swopes was not idle. Oh no! Frequently leaping out of his drum stool with the excellent posturing of a WWE fighter, he at one point began swinging from the temporary stage scaffolding (he did mindfully check its integrity first though).
Show PonyÂ is Brother Oâ€™ Brotherâ€™s second full-length release. The best band comparisons are White Stripes, Soledad Brothers and Flat Duo Jets: blues garage rock with lots and lots of soul. â€œThe Itchâ€ starts off the album with an ass-shaking blues beat and dirty garage guitar.Â â€œWolf in Sheepâ€™s Clothingâ€ is a blues head-banger and check out the power onÂ â€œYou Wouldâ€ which starts off almost demure but then intensifies into mass stomping fury.
When a band lists themselves under the genre of gospel, it does not automatically come to mind that they may be fusing this genre with blues, rock, and punk. Brother Oâ€™ Brother, a band that emerged in 2013, makes the combination seem only natural with the release of their second and most recent self-titled album.
Chris Banta (vocals, guitar) and WarnerÂ SwopesÂ (drums) have each been hard at work finding the cleanest, whitest clothes they could â€“ and making a music video, too. The song isÂ a rocker, featuring Bantaâ€™s signature bluesy screams and energetic guitar work, backed by Swopesâ€™ steady drum beat. The combination of each of their talents results in â€œYou Wouldâ€, a video thatâ€™s as explosive sonically as it is visually. The video leaves no questions (except maybe how long they had to shower) and doesnâ€™t try to be anything more than a kick ass time. And THAT, it accomplishes without question.
Hailing from Indianapolis is blues rock outfit Brother Oâ€™ Brother. Their bandcamp is filled to the brim with loud â€˜nâ€™ rowdy tracks, each one just as dynamic as the one that precede
Heavily influenced by the Son House, Jack White/White Stripes and the aforementioned Keys, Brother Oâ€™ Brother wail nâ€™ flailÂ this Indianapolis duo ripsÂ through these ten tracks with a fervor, barely taking a breath. Lots of growling, slamming, kicking and wall-of-sound by Chris Banta (guitar & vocals) and Warner Swopes (drums) as they demonstrate their prowess in dirty blues making.
Neon Native has been out since May and is already pushing the limits of even the band’s expectations, all but instantly demanding a second pressing on vinyl and making it all the more likely the hardest working band in Indianapolis will soon be nationally known. No matter how often I play these songs, they retain the visceral sound that you previously could only get by seeing the band live. That they’ve managed to evolve their studio sound so much over just three full-length records is impressive in itself. But when the songs are as good as they are on Neon Native, it becomes something you have to share repeatedly until the masses figure out what they’re missing.
Chris Banta may have the reputation of a vinyl maven via all his work with Romanus Records, but it’s easy to forget just how effortlessly he’s able to take on the front-man role here. In a live setting it’s as physically draining to watch him prowl the stage as it must be for him to actually pull off the moves. Yet as strong as their debut and Show Pony were as complete albums, Neon Native is the first to bring that experience into our collective headphones. “Sunshine” and the effortlessly expansive six-minute force “Fever” should be more than enough to convince you. If you can listen to Neon Native and still argue that rock is dead, you might as well hand in your critical credentials.
Grab a copy of this album and catch the band live in intimate venues while you still can.
Frantic vocals + crunchy blues rock riffs + gender politics = gold. Brother Oâ€™ Brother will get compared to The Black Keys and the White Stripes; it should be comparison, not demeaning. Great stuff here.Â
It never gets much better than some gritty blues rock from the Midwest. Indianaâ€™s Brother Oâ€™ Brother can hang with the best of them as their self-titled debut rolls on like an early Black Keys record. They also just released their first 7â€³ out of 100 copies so hurry over and snag one â€“ there are not many left!
#16 Brother O’ Brother – Show Pony
Indianapolisâ€™ Brother Oâ€™ Brother is one of those bands that more people should hear but I assume have been somewhat dismissed with their take on the garage-blues rock genre because their template is right out of The Black Keys early playbook, which does not stop with their sound but includes their duo status and a small salute with their name. I will proudly report that there was not one new thing to be found on Show Pony. It is a blues garage rock record that wears everything on its sleeve and leaves it all at your speakersâ€™ woofers. The key is that Brother Oâ€™ Brother never lets up off the pedal and Show Pony was the summer ride you should have taken. There is still time to let these Indiana boys in.
The very unique and talented Indianapolis locals, Brother O’ Brother, have just released their music video for ‘Without Love’. This video is incredibly well done and comes with song worthy of repeating.
Chris Banta and Warner Swopes of Indiana rock duo Brother O’ Brother have been sweating and bleeding the blues since 2013, coursing through the heart of American roots music. Hotter than the Mississippi Delta sun and sharper than the whetted sickle, Brother O’ Brother have taken the baton from the lexicon of torchbearers before them, delivering the truth you need through the mighty riff you crave.
This is Brother O’ Brother’s third full-length, and within seconds of the album drop today, the entire batch of liquid-filled records sold out. I’m telling you, the word is out about these guys. Pony up a twenty and grab one of the two remaining variants before there’s nothing left but blood and dust. Check out the entire album below.
The guitar and drums duo rips through heavy blues rock stompers with screaming guitars, howling vocals, and basic drumming. The bandâ€™s self-titled record doesnâ€™t let up for the 30+ minute runtime.
Well, the high-energy duo Brother Oâ€™ Brother donâ€™t seem to be sleeping much these days. Theyâ€™ve outdone themselves and have issued yet another quite amazing selection of variants for their self-titled record. The â€œdino filledâ€ glow-in-the-dark variant lasted less than a few minutes upon its release a couple of weeks ago.
When Chris Banta emailed me earlier this month to say his band was prepping more vinyl releases for 2016 â€” after dropping one that sold out in 3 minutes in February â€” I prepared my mind to be blown. As I scanned through the list of releases, including one with glow-in-the-dark dino bones, my mind WAS blown.
Here’s the thing: all vinyl purveyors in town know that it’s tough to get vinyl out these days. RSD and increased purchasing are great for stores, but it means record pressing plants are seriously backed up, and small batch orders from labels can get delayed for months at a time. So it’s quite a coup that Chris Banta and Warner Swopes managed to figure out a way to get out eight wax Brother O’ Brother releases together for 2016 â€” and it’s a coup for us that these records are so dang beautiful to look at.
“I just started running my own label a couple months ago,” Banta says, of Romanus Records, his own label. Romanus works with Colorado’s Fonoflo Records as sort of a “parent label.” “We have vinyl in 13 countries right now. … It’s just really expanded what we can do and what we can make. … It’s mainly been all of these relationships with other labels [that have allowed us to have the variety of releases].”
The seven upcoming releases are on four different labels, and will drop throughout the year. Why go so wild?
“I want to make what I would want to buy. I know what catches my eye,” Banta says. “It’s like any other business or art: stuff that gets real wild or psychedelic and pushes that boundaries, you’re like, ‘Man, that’s insane. That’s real cool.’ I just want to make what I would want to buy. And I’ve really learned that’s also what sells, helps my band grow, allows us to do more. It’s both part dream stuff, making what I would want to buy and [part] because it helps grow the pie.”
Brother O’ Brother won’t be playing in Indy for RSD â€” they’ve got a date booked at Appleton, Wisc.’s Mile of Music preview party. But we did get a look at all of these releases, and have a chance to present them in bulk to you. Voila!
Being the square that I am, I showed up to the venue about thirty minutes before showtime, thinking maybe Iâ€™d get to say hi to the respective artists while they set up. Upon entering I saw Brother Oâ€™ Brotherâ€™s guitarist/vocalists Chris Banta, stretching his arms and legs out far to the sides and almost jumping in place. He turned around and looked back at drummer Warner Swopes, shook his head smiling and said Â â€œI dunno, itâ€™s kinda tight up here..â€. Of course itâ€™s not the biggest venue, but I thought how could a band made up of only two people be worried about the size of a stage?
That question was answered almost immediately after the first power chord rang out. For someone being quiet and subdued, Banta became a completely different beast behind the mic. He jumped up and down as if he was possessed by the ghost of Jim Morrison doing an Iggy Pop impersonation. He introduced themselves and tore into their first song with no sound check and no warning.
Bantaâ€™s tiny Telecaster managed to sound like a full band of multiple guitars and bass. He slithered and pogo danced all over stage so much, it still blows my mind he didnâ€™t miss a single note. Maybe the stage was too small for them after all?Â After two or three songs, he stopped to catch his breath and tune the low E on his guitar and called into the crowd â€œThis next song I wrote about my Grandma. If think you are too cool to write a song about yaâ€™ll Grandmaâ€¦..you probably suckâ€Â but instead of playing a delicate tribute to his grandparent, it was yet another scorching garage rock anthem.
As their set went on, they didnâ€™t wind down one bit. In fact, their theatrics got bigger and more over the top. They went from temporarily switching instruments, to walking through the audience, laying on the stage, and getting back in their respective places without missing a beat. It was obvious they had done this quite a few times before. Later that night I found out that this was their second show that night, and 4th in 48 hours! Truly a testament for two guys who didnâ€™t have a single drink the entire night.
Brother Oâ€™ Brother is a garage, blues, fuzz rock duo from Indianapolis, USA who already released two full length albums and an EP. Show Pony is their latest release but they are about to release 6 vinyl releases on various independent vinyl labels in 2016.
This release has all the garage rock, blues and indie clichÃ©s and bands as the White Stripes and Wolfmother come to mind, but Brother Oâ€™ Brother succeeds in blending it all to something really interesting and authentic. They are one of those bands that prove that you only need two to tango and that there are still awesome underground bands around making decent records. 8,5/10
This vinyl-only EP proves The Black Keys and Jack White are not the only artists on theÂ blues based garage rock scene! After putting out 6 vinyl releases on 3 different labels, the Indianapolis duo Brother O Brother, started their own label to streamline the process. It was only right their first release would not only feature themselves but their friends Ghost Wolves, the riff heavy duo hailing from Austin. Brother O Brotherâ€™s brand of sleazy garage rock combines elements of blues, gospel and even a hint of avant garde and it plays well live show theatrics. The songs featured here are more polished than previous releases but maintain the core mission statement that has granted them critical claim across the US. On the other side, Ghost Wolves put a far more dangerous spin on the blues rock vibe by pairing Wanda Jackson-esque vocals with early Zeppelin riffs. Both bands play to their respective strengths by delivering a release that will satisfy any fan of The MC5 as well as anyone searching for pentatonic rock jams that havenâ€™t been featured in Â beer commercials.
In addition to being vinyl-only, Romanus/Fonoflo offer an assortment of collector variants including clear, splash, glow-in-the-dark and an extremely limited â€˜money filledâ€™ version thatâ€™s nothing short of amazing!Â â€“ Aaron Cooper