Formed in the Fall of 2010, Brown Bag is a new, organic rock and roll band hailing from the Southside of Chicago, IL. Their influences range from folk, jam, punk, jazz and even electronic elements. Currently, Brown Bag consists of Dave Waterman (Vocals/Guitar), Mike Ellis (Keys/Vocals), Jack Pieroth (Bass), Dan Cantone (Guitar/Vocals), and Matt Rezetko (Drums/Percussion).
While we patiently await their new album, “Recycled Music”, ready for release mid-May, we listened to a couple of old tracks, demos and some rough takes from the upcoming album, recently.
We thought a good place to start would have been from “The Brown Bag EP” so we kicked off with the track “Just Walkin”. And we were pleasantly surprised.
Brown Bag play a brand of what I call “timeless, middle of the road music” that adopts real musical instruments and voices. And that my friends is already an achievement as far as the sampled “iTunes generated” music scene is concerned.
Before anyone goes off on a tangent, thinking that my use of the title ” timeless, middle of the road music” is denigrative or alludes to insignificant, meaningless music. Wrong.
My use of the term “timeless, middle of the road music” alludes to a genre, that firstly, as the word so clearly explains, will definitely stand the test of time. In that no matter which musical style is in vogue at any given time, this music will always be appreciated. And if you check out the artists who historically have embraced this genre, you will be left without a doubt.
Secondly this style embraces tiny little fragments borrowed from varied, modern musical concepts and sounds, without totally engulfing one specific style or completely excluding another.
The melodies stay simple and neat, while the arrangements are never over-bearing or elaborately self indulgent. Endearing itself to a vast, world-wide listening audience.
On ‘Just Walkin’ in fact, I heard strong influences from ‘timeless’ cult artist Van Morrison, which included not just that famously peculiar vocal phrasing, but even the laid back, but vibrant musical arrangement. Clearly demonstrating the band’s above-mentioned songwriting qualities.
Another highlight for me was “Dell” which rode in on a subtle Arlo Guthrie-styled flavor. A really catchy vocal melody, is held together by a band that constantly delivers cohesive and tasteful playing.
On “Here Today, Whistle Tomorrow” the boys break-out with their ‘Crosby, Stills Nash & Young’ vocal harmony arrangements. Once again proving that they’re capable of walking the musical tightrope regardless of it’s style or root extraction.
The overall impression is that Brown Bag comprises a group of very accomplished musicians who truly believe in what they are doing. There is never a hint of egoism or exaggerated heroics in their playing. They seem to have found the perfect musical balance for their particular brand of playing. The individual prowess of each musician never exceeds the sum of the allocated musical parts within any arrangement, this way always leaving the song to take center stage in their performances.
We eagerly await the release of the album – “Recycled Music”, to hear if Brown Bag confirm the evolution of their timeless, middle of the road music!