Brown Shoe - Vanity
I love family bands. There almost always seems to be an added cohesiveness to the music when two or more of the musicians are related; don't ask me why, just listen to Chevelle's "Wonder What's Next" or Pantera's "Cowboys From Hell" for examples. Folsom, CA's Brown Shoe features three brothers and a friend who started out in a garage, aiming for a simple sound that only grew and grew out of those confines and into a wider consciousness. After The Wheat Patch's successes, the extended family of Brown Shoe found themselves in Kentucky recording Vanity, an album that is equal parts Coldplay, Sigur Ros, My Morning Jacket and mostly just plain beautiful in it's 'simply deep' mannerisms.
There's definitely an aquatic theme running through the album but it's never really pinned down; tracks like "The Ship", "Watershed" and "Ness" are like ship-wrecked and stranded souls, lingering on the beach of a dream-island. Ethereal, breezy and heavily dependant on gentle rhythms and melodies. While the band is often found in a Coldplay-like pop-rock format, at times they'll stretch their chops and create texture-rich moments (Low-Fi Audio File) and bold, ambitious twists in sound that come off like Sigur Ros outtakes (Desole). There's ample proof of brimming talent throughout - especially in the oft-ignored-but-highly-important catchiness factor. Brown Shoe are not afraid to write great pop music, but they do it honest enough on these 13 tracks to make you recognize and feel at home amongst their indie roots.
I come across quite a few under-appreciated and lesser-known bands nowadays, part of the job and all. When it comes to Brown Shoe and Vanity, I see no reason why they shouldn't be as popular as your Coldplays and Keanes and the like. The music may be ultimately similar, but a grand progressive outlet throbs and pulses beneath it all and that makes all the difference between following and leading. Brown Shoe may be playing a style of music we're all familiar with, but not many bands have as firm a grasp on it as can be.
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