Music

Jeff the Brotherhood: Hypnotic Nights

Jeff the Brotherhood typically get compared to as sounding like a shotgun marriage between Weezer and the Ramones, and Hypnotic Nights is going to do absolutely nothing to quell those comparisons.


Jeff the Brotherhood

Hypnotic Nights

Label: Warner Bros.
US Release Date: 2012-07-17
UK Release Date: 2012-07-17
Amazon
iTunes

Southern Rock seems to be undergoing a bit of a Renaissance lately. You can look to bands such as Baroness, which was originally based out of Savannah, Georgia, who, with Yellow & Green have delivered one of the year’s most head noddingly delightful hard rock albums. However, if you trek just a little bit north, but stay well below the Mason-Dixon line, you might find yourself in Nashville. While Nashville might be better known as being a country music town, there has been some interesting rock-based music emanating from there for some time now, but is only just getting noticed by mainstream papers such as the UK’s The Guardian. There are a group of young musicians in Nashville who share an affinity for ‘60s psychedelica and garage along with ‘70s punk, and are largely centered around the Infinity Cat label. Heck, even Jack White has gotten in on the action by establishing a combination record store, performance venue and headquarters for his Third Man Records label in Nashville in 2009.

Well, leading the fray of acts from the area is a two-piece outfit featuring brothers Jamin and Jake Orrall – the sons of successful country and rock producer/singer/songwriter Robert Ellis Orrall – called Jeff the Brotherhood (sometimes stylized as JEFF the Brotherhood) who have been active since 2001 and are now releasing their seventh LP, Hypnotic Nights, and first for major label Warner Bros. They, too, had albums released on both Infinity Cat and Third Man – the group even contributed earlier this year to Insane Clown Posse’s single for Third Man, “Leck mich im Arsch”, a reportedly rather bizarre rearrangement of a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composition produced by White himself. So, effectively, Jeff the Brotherhood is a group on a rather upwards trajectory. They might be the first Nashville rock band of the current crop to sign to a major, but, based on the activity of bands such as Pujol, the Ettes, the Paperhead and the Sufis, it would be easy to predict that they might not be the last.

Now, Jeff the Brotherhood typically get compared to as sounding like a shotgun marriage between Weezer and the Ramones, and Hypnotic Nights is going to do absolutely nothing to quell those comparisons – in fact, the album will only likely strengthen them. What’s more, Hypnotic Nights is a record that is looking for a good time to happen. Its opening two songs – “Country Life” and “Sixpack” – are essentially about the fun and exhilaration that the summer brings. However, the fun that the Orrall brothers are looking for are generally pure: the album even opens with the line “I want a place where I can smoke” – wait for it – “meats”. Yes, folks, “meats” and not “weed”. So Hypnotic Nights tends to position itself as the perfect soundtrack for your next backyard barbeque, though by the time the duo gets to “Sixpack”, they do admit “I wanna cool out / And get wasted.”

And, effectively, while much of the whole album sufficiently rocks the garage in all sort of enjoyable ways, the album’s strongest moments come with that one-two punch of “Country Life” and “Sixpack”: both songs hover around the 2:30 mark, making them the record’s shortest and punchiest songs, and most akin to punk rock. However, producer Dan Auerbach (frontman for the Black Keys) adds some interesting touches: “Country Life” features a skonky saxamaphone, which gives the track a bit of a Bowie-like glammy flourish. And vibes open up “Mystic Portal II”, giving it a bit of a jazzy feel – at least, until those guitars stuck in a deep fryer and battered in grease kick in at warp speed. Elsewhere, you’ll hear a sitar on, again, “Mystic Portal II”, giving the disc a bit of a spiritual influence, which would be a natural thing to do when you not only include the word “hypnotic” in the album title, but two of the LP’s songs as well: “Hypnotic Mind” and “Hypnotic Winter”.

While much of Hypnotic Nights will have you wanting to raise a plastic cup of beer in the air and say, “Yeah!”, there are a few missteps. None is more egregious than the band’s cover of Black Sabbath’s piano ballad “Changes”, which is rendered here as a dark synth pop ditty complete with gospel vocals. It is, in short, interesting, but overall feels like a half-baked experiment, and its position as the album’s closer will give you a bit of a bummer when you should be experiencing an uplift. Similarly, “Region of Fire” is another track that falls short of the mark – it feels like something the brothers Kirkwood would write, nevermind the similarities to the title of “Lake of Fire” – and feels a touch out of place here. However, Hypnotic Nights is a raucous, enjoyable fare of summertime fluff despite these stumbles. The Orrall brothers frequently set the guitars to stun, and you can just stand up and be captivated by the large majority of the record in a “let’s just rock out” kind of manner.

Hypnotic Nights has the whiff of a band whose powers may be further consolidated in a live setting, but you can go a few steps further: while the sound of Nashville has been traditional one of crying in your beer, Jeff the Brotherhood prove that there’s nothing wrong with being from Country Music City USA and downing as many beers in rapid succession as possible. In that sense, Jeff the Brotherhood are masters of reinvention, and you can only wonder how much more scuzzier their craft will become on further major label releases, while honing it as close as possible to honest good times rock ‘n’ roll. Because what the world really needs is more music that you can cook ribs to. Yum!

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, 'Venom' is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Music

Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.

Music

Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.

Music

2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.

Music

Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez

Music

Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.

Music

"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.

Music

The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.

Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.