The Brought Low
Tee Pee Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/12/2002
The Brought Low is a rock and roll trio from Brooklyn who are a unique creature. They play retro-rock without sounding like they are copying from the numerous influences they claim as influences. Instead, they are respectful of their musical elders, all the while bashing out some pretty tasty licks which should please most any rock fan.
Their self-titled debut disc is just under 42 minutes long, but is more than enough to remind everyone that rock and roll is by no means dead, and the '70s were good for more than just disco. Yet there is something disconcerting about what I hear on this disc. Maybe it's that the group is still working on getting its chops together, and they haven't yet reached the level of what they're capable of. Maybe they purposely held back their sonic assault, wondering how much retro-rock listeners will be able to take.
Whatever the case is, this trio - guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Howard Smith, bassist/vocalist Dean Rispler and drummer Nick Heller - prove they have a promising future ahead of them, and their first effort suggests that even greater things lie ahead. As a result, this disc is a little unfulfilling, yet quite enjoyable straight out of the box.
Right from the get-go, The Brought Low has an air about it which suggests that the band lives for the song, not the rock and roll image that so many other acts seem to follow - and if you can't appreciate the music, too bad. Tracks like "Goddamn God Bless," "Outer Borough Dust Run" and "Deathbed" - the latter sounds like it's a modern-day version of Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" - all demonstrate the power this band has. There are occasional tips of the hat to such groups as Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Who, but never does it seem like The Brought Low is copying the original groups verbatim. Instead, they've diluted the essence of their influences and worked them into their own original songs. Actually, that's pretty talented right there.
Yet The Brought Low suggests a group still growing inside its own skin. Tracks like "What I Found" and "Kings & Queens" are by no means bad, but they have ghosts of what could have been. I don't claim to know exactly what's missing from these particular songs, and whatever's missing doesn't inflict fatal wounds upon the final products. But one wonders what would have happened had things been kicked up just one more notch somewhere along the way.
Minor complaint aside, The Brought Low is a breath of fresh air in a field which sometimes is thicker than a Los Angeles sunrise. This is most definitely a group to keep a very close eye on. Something tells me that, with a little bit more seasoning and their remaining focused on the music, The Brought Low will be riding high in the world of rock music.