Photo: Craig Vietti

Take a Psychedelic Folk-rock Trip with Brother Oliver’s “Castles” (premiere)

South Carolina's Brother Oliver fuses rustic realizations and vibrant voyages on their first single of 2018, "Castles".

Familial acts are certainly nothing new; that said, few modern ones impress as easily as South Carolina troupe
Brother Oliver. Formed in 2013, the self-described “psychedelic folk-rock” outfit is led by siblings Andrew and Stephen Oliver (and completed by bassist George Sweet and drummer Devin Taylor). Having received plenty of praise for last year’s eponymous sophomore LP—which was mastered by John Baldwin (the Rolling Stones, the White Stripes, Neil Young)—the group has quickly proven to be masters of their multifaceted field. Fortunately, that promise is further fulfilled on their latest offering, “Castles”, a relatively serene and colorful track that skillfully transitions from soft-spoken, arid ballad to acid-induced desert specter. It’s quite inventive and engaging.

“Castles” is the band’s first single of 2018, and as Andrew Oliver confesses, its message is rooted in the merging of fund and fee:

I’ve always pursued my dreams, and I’ve always been blessed to have people close by in support. But dedicating your entire life to something comes at a cost to you and the ones you love. “Castles” is a song about appreciating the sacrifices of others and dealing with the fact that not everyone will come out ahead in the end.

This bittersweet realization permeates the tone and lyricism of the opening portion, whose blend of acoustic guitar strums, light syncopation, pensive singing, and various atmospheric timbres—oddly enough—evokes the somber warmth of Terry Reid’s masterful “Seed of Memory“. There’s a subtle yet powerful contrast between the verses—”I’m building castles with the ones I love”—and choruses—” But it’s not my hands in the mud / And it’s not my blood in the water”—that’s brought to life via vocals that exude regret, wisdom, and experience simultaneously.

Complemented by pleasing harmonies and a rugged guitar solo, it’s a gripping formula that’s made even more arresting once it bleeds into the off-kilter coda of trippy elements (horns, percussion, synths, and staccato guitar picking). Owing as much to the Beatles’ “Revolution 9” than it does to, say, Fleet Foxes or My Morning Jacket, this second section cleverly fits the piece while also taking listeners somewhere very unexpected.

Hear the track below and let us know what you think. Also, check out Brother Oliver’s upcoming tour dates and try to catch a show if you can.


5.25 – Athens, GA (Creature Comforts)
5.26 – Greensboro, NC (Boxcar Bar + Arcade) **
5.26 – Dallas, NC (Ole Dallas Brewery)
5.27 – Greenville, SC (Ink N Ivy)
5.31 – Shelby, NC (Newgrass Brewing)
6.01 – Lorton, VA (Fair Winds Brewing)
6.02 – Tarboro, NC (Tarboro Brewing) **
6.02 – Greensboro, NC (Little Brother Brewing)
6.03 – Surf City, NC (Salty Turtle Beer Company)
6.07 – Augusta, GA (Soul Bar)
6.08 – Greenville, SC (Aloft Hotel)
6.09 – Greensboro, GA (Oconee Brewing)

** afternoon show