Album Review – The Barr Brothers – Queens of the Breakers

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Barr Brothers Montreal

Three years ago, I was driving in my car, when a strange and beautiful song came on the radio. I was stuck in traffic, all alone, trying not to panic when I became entranced. The sound of so many different strings plucked away at my senses and I forgot where I was. I was going to the hospital, my father was dying. As the hypnotic rhythms eased me on my journey, I heard a gentle voice tell me that we were all half crazy. He was right.

The Barr Brothers are a Montreal based band made up of brothers Brad and Andrew with harpist Sarah Page. Although they are described as a folk/blues trio, they can play the hell out of any style of music. Anyone, among the 50,000 people who attended Montreal’s 2015 Jazz Fest and heard their 12 minute rendition of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” will attest to their transcendent musical presence.

“Queens of the Breakers” is the band’s third studio album which was released on October 13, 2017. Although it’s listed in the alternative category, it features such a wide range of musical genres. Each track is distinctly unique yet, somehow they all seem to fit together, creating intimate portraits and seductive rhythms.

I was lucky enough to grow up listening to vinyl records. When I carefully placed them on the turn table, I didn’t touch them until the entire side was finished. I allowed each song to lead into the next. There was no skipping songs. A great album is like a great book, you may enjoy some chapters more than others but you read them all because they fit together and tell a story. Upon hearing “Queens of The Breakers”, I can’t help but think of Crosby Stills Nash and Young‘s “Déjà Vu” for its melding of different sounds, textures, and stories.

The first song (Defibrillation) grabs you by the throat with its dysrhythmic beat and morose lyrics. The haunting vocals are done by special guests Lucius who also tour with Roger Waters.

The third track, “Song That I Heard”, is a romantic ballad which cements Brad’s intimate voice as a gifted story teller. I don’t like to compare musicians to each other but I did get a very powerful Simon & Garfunkel vibe on this track.

“Maybe Someday” and “Kompromat” get more raunchy with some powerful electric guitar riffs and psychedelic blending of harp and harmonica.

The title track is a warm and nostalgic reflection of the crazy antics of youth. “It Came To Me”, the first single from the album is the reason why The Barr Brothers are a fantastic band to see live. It’s addictive, foot stomping, hand clapping chorus is just a hootenanny waiting to happen.

The Barr Brothers are currently touring Europe with The War On Drugs but will be performing in Montreal at MTelus this Friday night.

barr brothers breakers

Review – Annette Aghazarian
Freelance Writer/Vinyl Fanatic

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