Brother Oliver: Not Your Daddy’s Folk Rock
If You Only Have 60 Seconds…
- If you don’t know what psychedelic folk rock is, Brother Oliver will let you in on possibly the best-kept secret in the Upstate.
- The electric mandolin is a thing you need to know about and, more importantly, will change your life.
- Brothers make music better than friends do. The womb and childhood probably have something to do with that, because science.
When we were first introduced to psychedelic folk-rock duo Brother Oliver a couple of years ago, their presence in the Upstate music scene was, quite literally, half-hearted. That is not to suggest anything about the band is lazy by any means, but rather, that half the band was not even in town. The brotherly duo of Andrew and Stephen Oliver were living hundreds of miles apart as Andrew set up base camp in Greenville while Stephen finished up college back in their home state of Michigan.
Truth be told, the two brothers pulled off this arrangement better than anyone could have imagined. Andrew played solo shows around town to build the brand while the two wrote and recorded remotely as only modern technology could allow. Stephen made the trip down south as often as possible for intense recording sessions live and in person and, as a special treat, Brother Oliver shows that actually featured both brothers were can’t miss events.
An Altered Approach
As satisfying as our first taste of Brother Oliver was, we could not be more excited to see how everything has fallen into place for them since. Stephen has officially made the move to Greenville allowing the brothers to write, record, and perform with the regularity and intensity that their previous arrangement never allowed. To say the change has had an impact on the band’s growth would be an understatement of epic proportions.
Andrew explains that being able to write and record together is a huge advantage they did not have before. With so much work happening remotely and assembled later one, their music had a distinctly “studio sound” to the band, Andrew admits. Now, however, he “can see the band in my head when I listen to the songs,” which has completely altered their approach to recording and allows them to tighten the gap between their live performances and in-studio recording.
Where’s My Tie?
The proof is in the proverbial pudding as Brother Oliver’s latest recording, the full length, self-produced, and self-titled album Brother Oliver is one of the best new albums you will hear all year, locally or otherwise. This is the moment in a band’s evolution where raw talent and passion are complemented by an undeniably professional recording. This is not to say the band’s early edge and grit are gone – arguably it is embedded in their sound more than ever before – but it is carried by the sense that these are seasoned veterans that have been doing this all their lives and have the execution all figured out.
The album grabs you right out of the gates with the “this is better than anything on popular radio” track, “I Rely On Everything”. Somehow simultaneously upbeat and haunting, this song about modern addiction to technology is the perfect introduction to an album that lets you know this band is not screwing around. Put this on every major market modern rock station in the country and Brother Oliver becomes a household name, guaranteed.
Track two, “Where’s My Tie” takes things in an entirely different direction as it alternates between dark and brooding and machine gun guitar riffs acting as the chorus. And so on and so forth goes the album, constantly changing direction and tempos, alternating between folksy singer-songwriter verses suited for a coffee house setting and full on 1960’s era psychedelic rock and roll with the grit of a dedicated garage band spirit. They blend styles seamlessly for an album that never takes the foot off the gas and leaves you wondering at the end how eight songs passed so quickly.
Mandolin – Yes Please
On stage, the energy Brother Oliver delivers is extrapolated beyond measure. Joined by drummer Devin Taylor, this is a full band performance that captures the attention of fans and casual listeners alike. Andrew’s guitar and vocal work are commanding and perfectly complemented by brother Stephen’s electric mandolin that brilliantly puts to rest everything you ever thought you knew about the mandolin. As a unit, they are tight in their execution and delivery and they own a stage presence that is comfortable and captivating in a way that could never be taught – as honest and natural as any stage performer could ever hope to possess.
Simply put, if you are looking for any “next big things” – whatever that means – lurking in the Upstate music scene, one should keep a close eye on Brother Oliver. They recently opened up for Charleston’s Susto at the Radio Room and their next month of shows will see them entertain audiences from Georgia to North Carolina. When they circle back to the Upstate, you will definitely want to make sure they are on your radar as they are one of the area’s best young bands doing things the right way.
To find out more about Brother Oliver and listen to their awesome Folk Rock tunes visit their website here.