Released: 3/24/2015 via Infinity Cat Recordings
Rating: 4/7 Stars
So far, it’s been an eventful 2015 for Nashville’s psychedelic rock duo JEFF the Brotherhood. After being dropped from the major label world (read here to see just how pleased they are to be off Warner Bros.), the Orrall brothers Jake and Jamin decided to return back to their roots and release Wasted On The Dream on their independent label, Infinity Cat Recordings. While Warner Bros. put the the album out two weeks ago on March 10, the band chose to push their unveiling of their album on Infinity Cat earlier this week.
As far as JEFF the Brotherhood goes, there shouldn’t be many mind-blowing expectations going into one of their records. While this is their first album since 2012, it’s fairly easy to tell what you’re going to get: lots (and lots) of heavy guitar riffs, some tongue-and-cheek lyrics, and an underlying pop hook on most of choruses. On Wasted On The Dream, they deliver just that. This isn’t a band that’s aiming for a Bob Dylan-esque, transformative approach to each album. It’s simple, it’s energetic, and it’s something they’ve managed to master in their own way.
The album opens up with “Voyage Into The Dreams,” a spacey track that ultimately registers a bit too played out with the echoing backing vocals responding with phrases like “won’t you come with me? / I will set you free.” While the mystical, psychedelic theme is evident throughout the rest of Wasted On The Dream, it starts off feeling all too cliché and gimmicky.
Single “Black Cherry Pie” follows, and includes an unexpected flute solo from Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson. While the lyrics leave something to be desired (“heard the world has turned into a great big ball of shit / what are we supposed to do”), the melodic chorus and again, catchy riffs save it. The album reaches a high point midway through with “In My Dreams” and it’s stellar guest vocals from Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. It includes all the best elements that JEFF the Brotherhood is capable of: a catchy chorus, heavy guitar, and some garage-rock fuzz overlaying it all.
“Melting Place,” opens up with a slow, Black Sabbath-like riff and continues alternating between the droning guitar a steady quick pace, while album closer “Prairie Song” evokes alt-rock, 90s feel with a steady drumroll and a slow build from verse-to-verse. Luckily for the Orrall brothers, their interesting instrumental choices, from quick turns in beat to unexpected wind instruments, tend to overshadow the somewhat base-line lyrics. For example, once you get past the heavy riffs and poppy “whoo-hoos,” all that you’re left with on mid-album track “Karaoke, TN,” is a tale of Jake Orrall being too drunk to do karaoke. Groundbreaking, poetic lyrics? No. Catchy and fun (most likely if you’re inebriated as well)? Probably.
While it would have been a great tale of the band coming out of being dropped from a major label with a massively epic and groundbreaking release, that’s not what the case is probably ever going to be with JEFF the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, there is not much to celebrate with their lyrics and songwriting style, there is something to be said for the way they approach their music. The Orrall Brothers aren’t showing any signs of growing up or maturing with Wasted On The Dream, but with this being their eighth LP, they’re also not showing any signs of slowing down.