Fusing elements of a retro-style rock with contemporary edginess and surreal stereophonic mixing, Motihari Brigade issue a formidably swinging debut in the new album Power From Below that has got critics talking quite a bit this January – and for good reason. In Power From Below, Motihari Brigade tackle elegant melodies with crunchy distortion ala “Talking To Crazy,” the dirty-riffing “Hold On (Eyes On The Prize)” and bluntly heavy “Which Side Are You On,” and though their approach borrows a heck of a lot from the classic rock model we’ve all come to know and love, to say that theirs isn’t an original effort by all critical measurements just wouldn’t be accurate.
Power From Below is a very tonality-driven record, with songs like the title track, “Revolutionary Sweetheart” and “The Leader” emphasizing detail over catchiness on a fairly consistent basis. This crew definitely strikes me as a group more interested in making a complicated groove sound effortless than they are constructing the sort of tried and true pop plasticity that most of us have come to loathe about the soundtrack our local FM dial provides us with, and in these three compositions in particular, they steer clear of the aforementioned artificialities often enough to distinguish their sound as being awfully close to a one of a kind product in 2020.
I love the percussive thrust of “Waiting For The Revolution,” “The Flood,” “The Invisible Hand” and “Buy This Product,” and personally I think that the drum parts in this album are just as integral to creating the energy in the music as any of the other elements are (which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about a lot of new rock records lately). There’s a moodiness to the beats on this LP, and even when they’re rather straightforward with the other aspects of their play, I never get the impression that Motihari Brigade are mailing in this part of the performance at all.
For the most part, all of the material on Power From Below comes to us loaded with super-rich harmonies, but those in “Power To The People” and “Revolutionary Sweetheart” were my favorite’s right out of the gate. It doesn’t necessarily require a trained ear to appreciate the depth that this band has got from top to bottom, but from where I sit, I think they’ve got one of the more angular sounds among their peer group for certain – now, it’s just a matter of figuring out how much it can be exploited in and out of the studio.
If you’ve been as hungry for frills-free rock n’ roll as I’ve been this chilly January, I highly recommend picking up Motihari Brigade’s eclectic Power From Below the next time you’re in the market for new and exciting music. Motihari Brigade are anything but a household name, but don’t let their experimental iconography and sonic rough edges fool you – this is a group that is very much onto something smart and original in the most important of ways, and while they’ve still got a lot to prove to the establishment, this rookie effort goes a long way towards winning over my approval and that of serious critics around the country right now.
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