JEFF the Brotherhood “Heavy Days”
by producer Dustin Verburg
It’s been a good few years for punk rock, especially the fuzzed-out, devil-may-care brand known as garage punk. It’s more popular now than it has been since the Hives, White Stripes and Black Keys all pushed into the mainstream in the 00s. When those bands emerged, however, garage punk changed. Gone were the amphetamine-fueled white trash anthems of Zeke, the New Bomb Turks and the Gaza Strippers. A new day dawned that replaced broken-glass bravado with indie rock introspection and pop melodies. The garage punk of today owes more to classic blues and 60s psychedelia than it does to the Ramones or the Weirdos; it often has a much more refined and self-conscious sound than the music that came before it. Nashville’s JEFF the Brotherhood bridges the gap between yesterday and today, bringing in the best elements of the past’s rowdy barn-burners and the present’s stylish rave-outs.
JEFF the Brotherhood is a two piece band, and their formula is simple but potent. Heavy, overdriven riffs are coupled with bashing mid-to-uptempo drums. When the tension level needs to change, the whole affair is punctuated with razor-sharp leads. JTB has collected many comparisons to The Wipers, the Portland punk rock heroes of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Those comparisons come mostly from that exact formula, which Greg Sage perfected way back on Is This Real? In 1979. That’s where the comparisons should end.
JTB’s vocal melodies are strong and memorable, particularly on “U Got the Look,” “Bone Jam” and “Heavy Damage.” Most songs on the album are drenched in the sort of psychedelic fuzz that the Black Lips bask in, but it’s coupled with a more aggressive riffing style and bone crunching tempo shifts. JTB does not thrash, they keep their tempos mean and lean; but the music never gets so slow that the adrenaline rush wears off. Their songs are on the long side for punk (3-5 minutes), and have a tendency to slip into the hypnotizing and brutal realm of stoner rock during instrumental breaks.
JEFF the Brotherhood keeps one eye on the glue-huffing swagger of yesteryear and the other eye on the sleek and ever-changing garage rock battleground of today. JTB would find it just as easy to play at a death-defying go kart race in a toxic junkyard as they would an exclusive theme party in a Brooklyn warehouse.
Catchy, aggressive, urgent and creative, JTB combines all of the elements of a great punk rock band. If JEFF the Brotherhood is an indicator, the next decade will be a good one for punk.