The Harmed Brothers: The Harmed Brothers
Fluff & Gravy – 2017
Now a quintet, the second album for Fluff & Gravy from The Harmed Brothers, a Portland outfit framed around founding members Ray Vietti and Alex Salcido, follows on from last year’s A Lovely Conversation EP. Included, are two numbers from that EP, the distorted guitars pop-rocker relationship-in-crisis title-track and the slow building soulful ballad When I Get Back.
The other tracks are a mix of new material and new versions of old songs, such as the album opener, Greetings From Mardi Gras; a song about a relationship that breaks up while on the road. It originally featured on 2010’s limited release All The Lies You Wanna Hear. Here it’s been extended by almost two minutes and, introduced with the sound of rain, transformed from an alt-country jog to something far more wearier and sad, sung in a cracked voice, coloured by mournful violin and erupting into a brief tumult towards the end.
From the same album, they also revisit the screw-up themed Cryin’Shame, replacing the banjo with piano and strings and again giving it a more melancholic pace. Then, from 2012’s Come Morning, while Elvis The Lion retains its slow tempo, it too is longer and gets a more muscular arrangement with a dominant bluesy electric guitar.
Everything else is previously unrecorded, the first up being another road song, the twangy rolling drive of alt-country Adopt A Highway, though relatively more positive (“oh yeah we’ll be broke, but we’ll never be broken”). The Wind is another slow, melancholic, dusty ballad, streaked with pedal steel and a steady snare beat rhythm while organ swirls in the background. Another song about the toll of life on the road is the steady-paced Life In Progress (“I’m thinking about packing it up, this life on the road without love, just turning the van around and coming back home”), a track that’s awash with brooding electric guitar.
Of the remaining two new songs, the salvation-seeking Don’t Wanna Be Lonesome is a slow swaying country waltz with mariachi horns with the album bringing down the shutters on the simple piano ballad Sunshine, gospel-tinged with handclaps and choral voices in the final stretch, echoing its predecessor’s hope on its chorus refrain “we’re gonna find our way home again.”
It’s an upbeat note on which to end a set that, for the most, has looked into the darkness and despair, but always a rewarding listen. As they say, “sometimes the rotten truth makes for a real good time.”
The Harmed Brothers is out now on Fluff & Gravy. Order it here.
The Harmed Brothers Playlist
In case you were wondering what The Harmed Brothers like to listen to while on the road, here’s a playlist they recently put together: