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Brian Olive

Brian Olive

(Alive; US: 23 Jun 2009; UK: 10 Aug 2009)

Drawing inspiration from ‘60s psych-pop, after-hours jazz, and ‘70s glam stomp, Brian Olive, the onetime Greenhornes guitarist and Soledad Brothers multi-instrumentalist, steps out of the shadows cast by the Midwest garage-blues scene and into the light on his self-titled debut. Although it meant moving to Cincinnati and helping to build a recording studio in the vault of a pawn shop, the artist formerly known as Oliver Henry definitely proves being your own man can pay dividends. Helped out by ex-bandmates Jared McKinney and Craig Fox from the Greenhornes and with spectral backing supplied by Donna Jay Rubin and sisters Holly and Tori Kadish on the majority of songs, Olive drifts through an array of styles and imaginative arrangements during the album’s 33 minutes with “King of the Road” aplomb. There’s a gentle nod to both the Kinks and the Beatles in the marshmallow melody of “The Day is Coming (Sainte-Marie’s Dream)”; a gritty, down-in-the gutter piece of Detroit R&B called “Stealin’”; and a feral sax punch plus a cellar full of Beat-cool jazz on “High Low”. Meanwhile, the girls are most noticeable oozing through on the muddied country-blues raunch of opener “Ida Red” and the ghostly, fluttering psych swirl of “See Me Mariona”, a song reminiscent of contemporaries Pink Mountaintops. The highlight, however, has to be the tambourine-shakin’, sax-laden slice of glam-ourized R&B, “Jubilee Line”, which yields Olive’s most confident vocal outing and a kick-ass trip on the Tube through London to boot.

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