The Harmed Brothers – Across The Waves (Fluff & Gravy Records)
By John B. Moore
It’s taken 10 years and five albums, but The Harmed Brothers have evolved from a solid, but niche banjo-based Americana/Bluegrass band into a group that draws in more influences, and plays full-bodied indie rock, that’s part folk, part Americana, part country, part pop. The result heard all over Across The Waves is their most consistently satisfying album yet.
The key to the band’s appeal still remains it’s two songwriters, LA-bred Alex Salcido and Missouri native Ray Vietti. The duo and the rest of their band now reside in Kentucky and recorded Across the Waves nearby at Cincinnati’s famed Herzog Studios (hallowed ground, where Hank Williams recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in the late ‘40s). One of the benefits to their new, fully fleshed out sound is the expansiveness of this record that adds a great backdrop to the lyrics – the band’s strength since the beginning. The added instruments here, like the synth on “Where You’re Going” or the guitar work throughout add dimension to the music that would have seemed out of place on the band’s more stripped down earlier efforts, but work well here.
The record’s tone is set early on with the opening track, “Skyline Over,” a song that aptly reflects the country’s current mood of hopelessness and frustration – themes that pop up throughout the record. Love and relationships show up as well, as does a sense of not belonging on “Born A Rotten Egg.” Admittedly, it’s not a breezy album to throw on in the background and ignore, but not all topics here are heavy; One of the standout tracks, “Funnies” for example, focuses on enjoying the small pleasures in life, backed smartly by ringing guitars and tight military drumming.
The record closes with the haunting “Time,” a song that brings back that sense of hopelessness, perfectly bookending a charming but complicated record. There may be some who miss the stripped down elements that defined the band’s first couple of releases, but Across The Waves is a stunning collection of songs by a band not afraid to grow. https://www.theharmedbrothers.com