Briscoe – West of It All
With a distinctive nasal youthful voice, the band Briscoe soaks in the splendor of banjo in this driving instrumental debut produced by Brad Cook that has the residential folksiness & rootsy modern incarnation necessary to tug on younger ears. It stirs up a little twang but is never silly since its genuine vintage feel is evident. The unit began at the University of Texas/Austin campus with backyard performances that led to some more distinguished spots & notices.
The band is basically Truett Heintzelman & Philip Lupton & while the first track “The Well,” is a little elementary the second “Coyotes,” is impulsively flawless. A nice drive, a good melody & impeccable playing bring it home & since the vocals are not the mainstream basic approach it’s a bit quirky but that’s what makes it all so appealing. I like these guys. There is indeed a ruggedness to their parfait vocals & the tunes suit their oeuvre.
Though they’re from Texas this 10-cut effort was recorded in North Carolina as West of It All (Drops September 15–ATO Records). This set is well-composed tunes on a slick little album. “Wild Thing,” (not the classic 60s tune by the Troggs), is an upbeat song sung in unison with some enthusiasm. They come across as a hybrid southwestern Proclaimers-type group. The material is inventive, it gracefully glides from their lips & the instrumentation just drizzles from their fingers.
Criticism? 2 brief points. First, they could use better song titles since many are rehashes of other songs & listening to their lyrics their songs do have far more inspiring title possibilities. The CD art has no design. These musicians deserve better. That’s the former publicist in me speaking.
The wonderful melodies these fellows come up with continue — “High On You,” (“Got a Long Road Ahead” would’ve been better) but hey, the song is still first class. Catchy. One of the best tunes on this set & there are many. Lots of crossover potential. An exciting piece performed by tight musicians.
Briscoe keeps it original & creative musically throughout the album. “When The Desert,” is a high-octane song. Quite cool with a nice harmonica coda. Ah, but “Scattered Mind” & “Hill Country Baby,” are the bare-knuckle winners. Wonderful groove. Mature, engaging, with that alt-country flexing of its muscles. Sax is badass crazy.
While they’re not the Everly Brothers there’s a similar quality in their partnership – the material is consistently good & this is a well-produced collection. Bravo.
Highlights – “The Well,” “Coyotes,” “Wild Thing,” “Sparrows,” “High On You,” “When The Desert,” “Easy Does It,” “Scattered Mind” & “Hill Country Baby.”
Musicians – Matt McCaughan (drums) & Phil Cook (bass/multi-instrumentalist).
Color image courtesy of Briscoe’s Bandcamp. The 38-minute CD @ Amazon & https://www.briscoetheband.com/ + https://atorecords.com/news/briscoe-announce-debut-album-west-of-it-all/