The Brian Shapiro Band sets the tone early on in their debut album, All That We See, that they are going to be delivering music in their own way, and on their terms. Peculiar and a bit off, but oh-so interesting, the rock and folk songs on this album give you a new perspective on the state-of-mind and state-of-the-union when it comes to indie music. To say these songs are entertaining is an understatement. The songs on All That We See are meant to be ingested.
With a spell of dissonance and some off-kilter lyrics you might expect from R.E.M. meets Gorillaz, The Brian Shapiro Band keeps the lister taught around its fingers. I wondered several times if the songs were just afterthoughts beautifully woven together, only to bubble up to the surface. I was amazed at the gritty, newness of it all. It makes perfect sense that Shapiro himself is a street artist. He has this invisible soapbox to his voice that makes you feel like even if thousands of people were swarming around him (or just walking past him on a typical day), he’s found the time to connect with just one on a whole other emotional level.
A few of the standouts on the album are “We’ll Take Them All”, “Why Wait” and “Thin Skin”. In “We’ll Take Them All” the daring piano is freeing, lofty. Shapiro’s voice is kooky and fun. But it’s also self-assured. He’s an artist that knows exactly what he wants to say. In “Why Wait” the tones are broad and memorable. In “Thin Skin” the rhythm and the beat are addictive, with a jaunt-like vibe. I’d like to give special consideration, certainly, to “Away And Away” and the final track, “Le Chein”. Completely unexpected, but in “Le Chein” Shapiro sings in French. The song definitely has that Paris-vibe, with his voice being both romantic and street-versed. He sings like he can be nestled in a café off the main drag, but still bringing in a crowd each night. His voice has pain and a whole lotta hope all tied up in knots. Like Michael Stipe from R.E.M., Shapiro’s voice has a whole entire atmosphere of its own. I loved it. He has great vocal range and gives amazing personality to each song.
The thing that I walked away with after listening to this album is that little sparks of love, hints of jazzy blurbs and clanging guitar riffs are all around us. In the busy city, in the work place and of course on the subway systems. We live in a world of chaos and relentless sonic quirks. The Brian Shapiro Band has successfully found a way to harness that power into their creative way. It’s audacious and it’s enjoyable all-at-once. We all beat to the sound of our own drum, and All That We See, the drum is a constant reminder that within that beating heart of ours, it’s all good. I’m anxious to keep The Brian Shapiro Band on my radar. You should definitely do the same.
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