The Brothers Burn Mountain: A Thread Through the Night

Paul Whyte

Brothers Ryan and Jesse Dermody have been living in the Twin Ports for several years. I first met them when they were touring through town and they were still living in the Green Bay area. For some reason they decided to move here and become part of this area’s music scene, they really pulled through in that aspect. Some acts play once or twice a month but The Brothers played constantly including a weekly slot at Fitger’s for a couple of years. In that time they released a few albums.
The thing with The Brothers that always kind of perplexed me is pinning down their sound. After giving a few listens to their new album, “A Thread Through the Night,” I still can’t say for sure what one would classify The Brothers as a whole. With past material I’ve thought, “Is this rock? Is this blues? Is this folk/singer-songwriter stuff?” Well, it’s best not to really put The Brothers in a box because they certainly aren’t in one. If this new album doesn’t make that impression, I won’t doubt that whatever they come up with next just might.
Let’s get to the music. There are a few things that stand out on this album and the first track, “A Thread Through the Night,” brings forth some of this. It should be noted that The Brothers are just a two piece. Ryan takes on the instruments and primary vocals while Jesse handles the primary percussion. This track is run almost purely by percussion and its a little different. This isn’t a traditional drum kit: hand claps, what could be pots and pans, a kick drum seem to be all in the mix. There’s droning old time bluesy backing vocals which creates a somewhat haunting tone. While this album isn’t exactly dark there is something kind of mysterious and perhaps mystical about it. The album cover kind of reminds me of Jethro Tull’s “Songs From The Wood” cover. It’s Ryan and Jesse with two female companions carrying candles through some dark woods. I imagined for a minute that they’re going to hook up with Jethro along side his campfire.  
In certain ways this feel seems fitting for the music. This album carries an old school psychedelic rock feel in parts. With the next track, “Lake a Layer of Stars (Cosmic Love),” it’s like a mix between Beach Boys harmonies and something like The Beta Band. It’s tranquil and a little trippy and I don’t see anything wrong with that.
In the track, “We Push Right Through,” it’s almost like blues except for the guitar leads that sound like they could fit into a Byrds song. There is some chaotic and experimental things going on and if that’s what they were going for, I think it works out well. If you like a lot of poppy hooks and conventional song structure, then maybe this album might confuse you. I’d like to think that this album reflects a number of things that have been around for awhile but uniquely arranges them to suit their particular sound.
One thing that I love about this album is including the piano into some of the songs. The song, “The Great Giver,” is quite dramatic with droning guitar parts and floating piano notes that sometimes focus on creating emphasis in the upswells of the vocal flow that is happening. Again, with a song like this, it falls under the category of psychedelic rock. It’s hard not to listen to it and think of The Doors. The album ends of with the six minute instrumental track, “I’ve Gone Into a Light (and Come Out Brighter.” There’s a lot of atypical percussion matched with a droning and hypnotic back bone of bass and piano. The guitar parts flow some where in the realm of noise rock, similar to something Sonic Youth might do.
As far as recording and production, I found the album to be pretty well done seeing that The Brothers recorded it themselves and in fact have started a record label, “Diarmada Records.” I wouldn’t usually advise people to produce themselves because honesty and a few other ears tends to lead to better albums from what I’ve seen and heard, but these guys seem to know what they’re doing.
I love that this album is being released in October. It carries some sort of spiritual energy that The Brothers has always expressed from what I’ve listened to but they found a groove and flow and just let it happen. I’ll say I am pleasantly surprised by the project overall. It stays pretty mellow but there’s never a dull moment from track to track. Before the weather gets too chilly, go out and find a campsite, pop this CD into the car stereo, leave the windows rolled down and chill out by a campfire. Despite the electric guitar and some effects on the vocals here and there, this is a tastefully done and somewhat earthy album that creates a unique listening experience.  
The Brothers Burn Mountain will have an album release show on October 17 at The Rex with Colleen Myhre.