|The Barr Brothers|
The Barr Brothers — Sleeping Operator
♣ Bratři Brad a Andrew Barr, harfenistka Sarah Page a multiinstrumentalista Andres Vial našly transcendentální album, které by mohlo přímo střemhlav padat do vašich snů. Album je oholeno z původních 40 skladeb až na současných 13. Slunce začíná stoupat, což signalizuje konec dlouhého spánku, rozmarný sen stojí za vyprávění.
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Genres: Alternative, Music, Singer/Songwriter, Country, Rock, Adult Alternative
Album release: October 7th, 2014
Record Label: Secret City Records
01 Static Orphans 2:05
02 Love Ain't Enough 4:51
03 Wolves 5:04
04 Even the Darkness Has Arms 3:51
05 Come In the Water 6:48
06 Little Lover 4:51
07 How the Heroine Dies 4:16
08 Valhallas 4:31
09 Half Crazy 4:54
10 Bring Me Your Love 4:49
11 England 4:51
12 The Bear At the Window 4:44
13 Please Let Me Let It Go 5:08
P/© 2014 Secret City Records, Inc.
♣ Written by Andrew Gilmore Barr / Philip Bradford Barr
∩•∩ Brad Barr (guitar, vocals)
∩•∩ Andrew Barr (drums, percussion, vocals, keys)
∩•∩ Sarah Page (harp, vocals, percussion)
∩•∩ Andres Vial (keys, bass, vibes, percussion, vocals)
By Holly Gordon
∩•∩ Canadians really kill at Americana. The Barr Brothers are no exception, and their most recent release, Sleeping Operator, is a testament to the band’s incredible range and talents after years — and in some cases, decades — playing together.
∩•∩ Brothers Andrew and Brad Barr (formerly of the Slip), along with harpist Sarah Page and Andres Vial, make up the quartet and, on their sophomore album, a harp isn’t the only instrument that stands out from the guitars: they’ve added horns, marimba, ngoni, hammered dulcimer and pedal steel to the mix. Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Patrick Watson’s band, the Luyas, Bassekou Kouyate’s band and Little Scream all guest on the record, which was recorded and mixed by Ryan Freeland (Ray Lamontagne, Bonnie Raitt).
∩•∩ Sleeping Operator is both expansive and melodic. The first track, aptly named “Static Orphans,” includes no lyrics but leads directly into the orchestral yet catchy “Love Ain’t Enough.” The first released single, “Half Crazy,” is a straight–up banger, even if Americana and blues don’t technically have bangers. From first track to last, Sleeping Operator is dreamy yet tangible.
∩•∩ The 13 tracks were selected from more than 40 songs that the band recorded during the album–making process. According to a press release, the songs are “meditative and explosive, exploring the far reaches of folk laced with West African influences, hypnotic modernist pulsing and beyond.” It’s said to be intimate despite its ambitious scope.
BY NINA CORCORANON OCTOBER 10, 2014, 6:00 AM; SCORE: B–
∩•∩ When The Barr Brothers made their folk rock debut in 2011, they secretly cast their listeners under a spell of harmonic vocals, careful strings, and obscure found objects. Like Local Natives, they put out an ambitious first record that stood on thorough craftsmanship, and after a three–year gap they had fans wondering if they would ever hear more. With their second album, Sleeping Operator, The Barr Brothers live up to expectations, if falling a hair short of their debut.
∩•∩ Brothers Brad and Andrew Barr, harpist Sarah Page, and multi–instrumentalist Andres Vial have crafted a transcendental album that nosedives right into your dreams. Xylophone notes patter through the opening track into “Love Ain’t Enough”, a soaring welcome that uses a three–note progression like a back–and–forth rallying call. Despite that immediate rush of blood, though, Sleeping Operator is restrained on the whole. The meticulous placement and production make each track feel carefully controlled, though not to the point of suffocating any spontaneity. The Barr Brothers’ orchestration depends heavily on angelic harp and unusual instruments, both of which act as elements of surprise.
∩•∩ Despite the album’s bizarre mix of instruments, The Barr Brothers never let you get lost in the chaos. The African stringed instrument the ngoni fits right in alongside the bongos, while a fan–made instrument called a “cardboardium” is just as entertaining as the upright bass. Blues number “Half Crazy” sees the band dropping twangy guitar lines over a series of hand–claps and metallic, grungy bass that gets grit between their toes. The whole thing feels too artfully done to have them rolling around in the mud; instead, they’re egging on a fierce, cultish dance, shaking with fevered joy. While country yawns “Wolves” and “England” amount to forgettable (if lush) filler, the rest is so creatively constructed (yes, that was a kitchen sink you heard) that it more than makes up for the lulls.
∩•∩ Sleeping Operator shaved 40 songs down to 13, many of which saw the help of Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Patrick Watson’s band, and members of The Luyas. The end result is a mix of African influences and devilish American folk for dancing around the campfire. When the record wraps up with bedtime story “The Bear at the Window”, The Barr Brothers gently release their wand as the sun begins to rise, signaling the end of a long, whimsical dream worth retelling.
Essential Tracks: “Half Crazy”, “Love Ain’t Enough”, and “The Bear at the Window”
By Gabriel Scheer, October 14, 2014; Score: ********
•∩ The Barr Brothers are your new favorite fall comfort blanket. Listening to their latest, Sleeping Operator, feels both comfortable and like a breath of fresh, folk–rocky air. One could pop it into a CD player (or perhaps just stream it…) and randomly select a song, only to easily imagine the album being some long–lost piece by Tom Petty or even Local Natives. In short, this is a great album showcasing both the versatility and what seems like the history of the band.
•∩ Opener “Static Orphans” opens with great ambience that seems to take influences from any number of airy emo–pop bands, yet seamlessly blends in banjo and beautiful vocals to create something better than the whole. Listening to it leaves this author wanting to find a rustic, weathered old house in the foothills of… somewhere, and sit down with a mug of steaming coffee or cider while watching the mist fade over the hills.
•∩ Despite this inspiring start, or perhaps in accordance with it, the rest of the album takes the listener on an equally evocative, if inconsistently great, ride. The second track, “Love Ain’t Enough,” takes a much more traditional contemporary rock approach, adding little new to a solid modern catalog while simultaneously not subtracting much. The third track, similarly, adds relatively little (while again not detracting), but the fourth, “Even the Darkness Has Arms,” again feels like it comes closer to making life better, somehow more real. This tune has a very Josh Ritter–esque feel, heavy on acoustic guitar and light, appealing vocals coupled with solid guitar bridges.
•∩ Other album standouts include: the melodic, pensive “How the Heroine Dies,” which feels like the post-war dirge its name suggests; the Cat Stevens–esque “Valhallas,” with its upbeat melody and a chorus that almost cries to be heard in a small coffee shop, the clinking of glasses echoing as the singer plaintively seeks absolution; the vaguely Pink Floyd–esque “Please Let Me Let It Go,” which oddly wouldn’t feel out of place midway through The Wall.
•∩ Sleeping Operator will make you feel more whole. It’s not something you’ve never heard before; in fact, that’s a big part of its charm — it’ll leave you feeling like you’ve gotten new material from artists you’ve always known, despite being by a band of whom you’ve probably never heard. And if somehow the artists referenced above don’t ring a bell — well, welcome to a wonderful world in which a combination of folk and rock create something that feels just about like…home.
|The Barr Brothers|