Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Brood ~ In Spite Of It All

(No official website.)
Style: garage rock, surf
Label: Skyclad
Year: 1988
Home: Portland, Maine (disbanded)

Members: Chris Horne ~ guitar/vocals
Crystal Light ~ drums
Betsy Mitchell ~ bass
Asch Gregory ~ organ

Guests: Kathy Wagener ~ harmonica/b. vocals
Cassie Bean ~ drums
Kristen Chalmbers ~ organ
Kiwi Marzan ~ organ/harmonica


Those who know the four albums, of which this rarity is the first, of this underground garage rock quartet from Portland, Maine ... considering Portland isn't generally seen as a music watering hole like Seattle or L.A. ... more often than not praise the Brood. Of course the most obvious attraction is the fact that it's an all girl band. Albeit, with their shaggy hair a bit too reminiscent of the Ramones they don't exactly exude sex appeal, though blond haired drummer Crystal does tend to stand out particularly with her ultra-cool pre-Bono shades, but one can't help but turn at the sight of four 'rock chicks.' But, anyone who sees this attraction as a gimic needs to ignore the visuals & just listen to the music. These girls created a powerful attack when it came to reviving 1960's garage rock ... the Ramones coming into play again. Formed in 1983 the Brood made a name for themselves, still spoken of with reverence, in the underground scene cranking out more pain-filled love songs than any band before probably ever dared do long before 60's garage rock was the coveted music it has since become with collectors. With a retro look to go with their retro organ/guitar attack they take heartbreak to a new level of depression. The song titles tell a lot: "You Lie", "You Turned Your Back On Me", "How Many Times?", "You'll See", "Yer No Good", "I'll Put You Down", "Cry", "Why Don't You Call me?", "See If I Care", "I'm Not The One", "Everybody's A Liar" & "Don't Look For Me". Are you in tears yet? Only four songs are vaguely 'romantic', or slyly anti-romantic: "Satisfyin", "On Fire", "Taste Of the Same" & "I Need You There", though the last two are cover tunes so it can be forgiven if they don't hit you over the head with songwriter Chris Horne's 'I'm not happily in love' attitude. For those not familiar with what retro 60's garage rock sounds like ... think distorted guitars chugging out Ramones-esque three chord patterns & lacking on solos, loose beats with some tambourine thrown in for luck, thumping basslines clarifying the guitar's overdistorted melody & high pitched keyboard runs framing something akin to a melody that sounds like something out of a horror film, all of it played with pure energy & teenage angst over technical pyrotechnics. & the singing? Not fancy. Not full of range. Not screaming like punk but something more akin to to Dropkick Murphys but without the venom. The Brood never gets too wild on In Spite Of It All, as these are love songs, but prefer a slow pace that at times harkens to the contemplative side of the Velvet Underground without the psychedelic & drug influence, occasionally slowing down to just drag the organ-drenched emotions in the mud (i.e. "Don't Look For Me"). There's even some harmonica to give it a blues tilt (i.e. "How Many Times"). The one problem with the album is variable sound quality pointing to different recording sessions. But, the unevenness is part of the pleasure of the garage rock sound. The Brood are probably one of the earlier all girl groups to cover the 60's retro sound & left in their wake an array of collector's items recordings. Every single one is worth hunting up but it's this debut that set the sound that would follow & the girls weren't exactly known for changing their sound.


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