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Belle Brigades Eponymous Debut Album Reviewed

Their live shows at the Satellite and the Echo were so much fun that I had to check the self-titled debut album of The Belle Brigade, a band that, with the perfect high-pitched and strangely similar bi-harmonies of Ethan and Barbara Gruska, revives the female-male (even brother-sister) duo in a big way. But big is not enough to describe the sound of their anthemic songs, or breezy country-rock’ n’ roll tunes filled with these 70s-inspired sweet harmonies.

The album starter is the very catchy and infectious ‘Sweet Louise’, an ear candy with sibling vocals running after each other over some toe-tapping happy rhythms, only soothing by some luscious chords.

There is an obvious Fleetwood Mac’s influence on ‘Where Not to Look For Freedom’, a dynamic tune which seems to be in a hurry with chiming guitars and a perfect mix of their two soaring voices, or on ‘Lonely Lonely’, which starts with firework and exhilarated vocals. 

But the 70s band is probably not the only influence that will come to mind. Simon and Garfunkel will certainly also pop up many times when listening to the album, especially when they slow down in the beginning of ‘Shirt’, a song which is like an effervescent pill that keep growing and giving, or actually each time they harmonize together. But it is not as if they were trying to hide it, Paul Simon always come first in their list of favorite songwriters in their interviews.

Probably one of the outstanding tracks of the album (although they could be several of them) is ‘Losers’, a fist-in-the-air anthem with straightforward lyrics about not caring to be a winner (take this Charlie Sheen) and an ascending explosive determination sung at the top of their lungs.

The youthful emotion that sweat from each of songs such as ‘Belt of Orion’ or ‘Shirt’ almost never loses this country-fun-breezy dynamism to which nobody could resist dancing during their live shows.

Bluesy guitars, and feet-tapping bouncing beats on ‘Lucky Guy’ (a song about their mother surviving a stroke when giving birth to Ethan) were also the elements that had all the potentials to start such a live party, and the album version does not disappoint, all pumped up with these hey-heys. ‘Punch Line’ and ‘My Goodness’ have even respectively some Beatles-que chords and guitars, whereas the intensity and the buoyancy of the countrish ‘Rusted Wheel’ could summarize the album.

It sounds that everything comes smooth and easy for the Gruska brother-sister, and the fact that their father is musician Jay Gruska (credited for a long list of TV and film music), and grandfather is John Williams, the legendary conductor who wrote the film scores to Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., Superman and so many other films, may explain their genetic ability to write country-folk-bluesy songs that immediately connects with our own musical DNA

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