by Steve Caraway - Charlotte Pop Festival - 2008
Surrounding us outside while we chewed the fat were the MANY children of the next act, my friends from
Ohio, the Smith Brothers. I knew it was time to go in to watch when the courtyard emptied, looking the Pied
Piper had just passed through. Before I could get up front I could already hear the strains of the Theme from
the Partridge Family being pumped from the stage with nothing but grins all around from the crowd.
If you think the Bros. are a jokey novelty act think again, Mike Clark is one of the best young songwriters out
there today and the Bros. have an EP out , an LP in the can, and Mike..s five or six songs into the next record
already. If this wan..t enough, Mike, bass and vocs, Pat Dollenmayer, guitar,vocs and an army of children,
Kris Phillips and Brian Pack, drums and guitar respectively kick serious ass as a live band. I somehow
lost, yeah, LOST, their CD but Mike..s already sent another and hopefully some unheard goodies from the
next album for me to hear. I..ll be sure to blog about that when I get ..em.
After a sterling set of originals Mike announced that although they don..t normally do covers, they thought it
would be appropriate to play one for the CPF crowd...one from a band from...Cleveland. Cue slashing guitar
chords and feel the oxygen sucked out of the room, I look around to see people screaming and realize I..m
doing the same thing, the Smith Brothers are playing Tonight by the Raspberries!!!!!! Pop nivana, folks, Pat
is singing his ass off and the crowd is doing the St. Vitus Dance Party, the song comes to a close, and then
something happens that you NEVER see in a nightclub, a standing ovation, long and well deserved.
I don..t smoke anymore, but I feel like I need one now, lol...whew!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The Smith Bros. "Restless"
The Smith Bros. are back -- fans of Velvet Crush and Posies should rejoice. I enjoyed the debut and this is a solid follow up showing
both musical and songwriting growth. The buzzsaw riffs and subdued vocals are back in all it's hook-filled glory. "How Wrong You Are" is
a Posies styled mid-tempo guitar lead single that does everything you'd expect. The vocals of the brothers Smith come close to a
combination of Evan Dando (Lemonheads) and Tim Rogers (You Am I). The follow up "Down To You" is similar but "She's Under My
Skin" takes it up a notch gets a little funky with a Jellyfish-like quality in the chorus. The next song "Talk of the Town" is just brilliant --in
that combines the lyrical wit of Elvis Costello and the sighing harmonies of the Beach Boys with the support of a wall of Rickenbacker
guitar chords. The following tune "Restless" seems also cut from that cloth and the tone gets more hopeful. "Every Day Gets Better" is
the template of a power pop song and manages to inject a real enthusiasm and freshness in the standard three-minutes plus pop
song. There is a lot of music here too (13 tracks). Each one filled with ultra-melodic guitar hooks and simple, memorable melodies.
Best here is there is no drop off in quality of the music. Even the ballad "Little Things" is interesting and the sunshine pop of "My Great
Regret" is another excellent Costello-meets-Beach Boys flavored single and would have been a perfect ending. By the time we get to the
"bonus" country-pop song "Daydream" (which sounds like a holdover from the first album) you realize you've been on a musical journey.
And what a trip - I highly advise you get this if you like any of the bands I mentioned above. This also makes my crowded top ten of 2008
list this year.
SMITH BROS - RESTLESS
*****JUST OUT! This power pop band from OHIO is prime quality pop! The title track "Restless" for example, is a real jangle pop
delight! The whole cd is excellent...we're talking about TEENAGE FANCLUB, COSMIC ROUGH RIDERS,ELVIS COSTELLO, and BYRDS.
What a great disc, what a great band, what a great price, making this a really easy choice for you all! Great layered harmony vocals all
around and sweet tunes that deliver the goods! GRADE A
The long-awaited followup to their brilliant debut is finally here (what's it been, 7-8 years?)! And it's certainly been worth the wait as
they've delivered an absolute pop gem! The critics seem to agree with us, judging by the glowing reviews that are already in! "They have
a love of melodic power-pop with big hooks, great harmonies, and a sound reminiscent of 70's AM music and 80's pop rock. They've
been compared to Teenage Fanclub and Fountains Of Wayne (still present), though there also appears to be strong influences from
The Beatles to Van Morrison to a host of 80's Brit-Pop bands (we hear some Squeeze and Marshall Crenshaw). 'How Wrong You Are' is
a jangly rocker that could be a Gin Blossoms tune. 'She's Under My Skin' is a silly little love song in the British tradition with big
harmonies and a memorable melody. The title track opens with an American influenced guitar hook and resolves into another strong
If the Everly Brothers came up through the musical ranks twenty years later and were from Britain, they might sound quite a lot like these
guys!" - Wildy'sWorld.blogspot.com
CD of the Day, 11/4/08: The Smith Bros-Restless
It may be Election Day in the USA, but forget Obama & McCain for a minute and cast your vote for The Smith Bros., who hail from the
swing state of Ohio. Their new full-length Restless will take your ears in a landslide, without a hanging chad in sight. Now that I've
dispensed with the electoral metaphors (had I done this another day, I would have gone the cough drop route), let me just say that this
disc looks likely to be up there when the year-end list gets compiled.
Their sound is very reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub, with some Posies and a bit of Gin Blossoms/Tom Petty/heartland rock thrown in. If
you don't hear the TF influence in the opening track, I'd tell you "How Wrong You Are", while the rocking "Down to You" brings to mind
The Wallflowers and Minibar. "She's Under My Skin" has kind of a "Heartland Beatles" sound, and "Talk of the Town" betrays some Elvis
C influence. Meanwhile, the straight-up power pop of "Every Day Gets Better" gets better with each listen, and "You Did It All" is another
winner in the TF mold. Elsewhere, "Moments" is a more rocking Rembrandts-style track, and the midtempo "My Great Regret" has just
the right mix of melancholy and melody to capture the song's mood. An outstanding disc from end to end, and fans of hyper-melodic
pop will not be disappointed.