[1 August 2012]
Respect the Van, the second album from the Brothers Comatose, is yet another record that finds a group of guys who spent time in punk and rock bands pouring that same energy into shit-kicking acoustic music. The Brothers, led by actual siblings Ben and Alex Morrison, are a string quintet that splits the difference between their bluegrass and folk influences. That mixture leads to a nice sonic variety on Respect the Van, from the mid-tempo stomps, claps, and “Whoa-oh-oh” sing along of “Modern Day Sinners” to speedy workouts like “Feels Like the Devil” and the lightning-quick instrumental “Pennies Are Money Too”. The folkier material, like the lovely “Morning Time”, a male-female duet with Nicki Bluhm, and the dark, swirlingly creepy “Sleep”, provides a respite from the go-go-go energy of the rest of the record. There’s a surplus of road songs here (“Pie for Breakfast”, “120 East”, “The Van Song”), something you’d expect from a young band who’s constantly on tour. But the real highlight of the album is the jangly “The Scout”, a youth vs. experience diatribe that finds the youngster swearing not to grow up and be like his scout leader. The band plays the song with a jaunty knowingness that skillfully undercuts the young man’s earnest conviction.