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Middle Brother

Middle Brother (Partisan)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 18, 2011

SXSW Records

Middle Brother

(Partisan)

Debuting at last year's SXSW as MG&V, Middle Brother is basically a mini Monsters of Folk behind Deer Tick's John McCauley, Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith, and Delta Spirit's Matthew Vasquez. While all three songwriters shine, the most compelling aspect of these recordings lies in the effectiveness of the shading that each adds to the others' tunes, especially in how McCauley's caustic growl gets softened by the smoother tenors of Goldsmith and Vasquez. Of those latter two, Vasquez's "Theater" rings with a lustrous Gram Parsons feel, while Goldsmith strikes best with the pallor of "Blood and Guts." Though there's little feel of actual collaboration, the traded verses of closer "Million Dollar Bill" and the fantastically shaggy co-written romp of "Middle Brother" display the inherent affinity among the songwriters, as does the slightly rootsier-tinged take on the Replacements' "Portland." Even if nothing more becomes of the group, this album alone justifies the effort. (Sat., 5:25pm, Auditorium Shores Stage)

***

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