April 24, 2018 Cary Brothers – Bruises (Album Review)
Some may have already heard the name Cary Brothers over the years, they just do not realize it. For one, his music graced the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack for the 2004 film Garden State, as well as the soundtrack to the 2010 college Comedy Easy A and TV series such as ER, The Vampire Diaries, and Scrubs, to name a few. Now set to release his seventh record, Bruises, via Procrastination Music on Friday, April 27th, the singer/songwriter gives voice to life and love once again in his cool Alternative-style, slipping in quietly and smashing it with this latest record.
Skilled at his craft, Brothers delivers his brand of Rock in nine songs that wander the range of emotions fans love. This critically-acclaimed artist is a craftsman, and it shows from the opening track, “Nothing in the World/The Path.” Beautifully emotional, a connection is made from the start with listeners. Simple with an orchestral feel, this is an elegant introduction to what is to come; honest and heartfelt, a stripped back connection to the second half of the cut is another path to the rest of the album. Intensely vulnerable, this is real Rock with crystal-clear vocals. Powerful to say the least. Finding a way to get up again is the soul of “Bruises,” where everyone can relate to the anguish that comes from the pain of love; lyrically brilliant, this song is an example of why Brothers is so skilled at pulling heartstrings along with strumming his guitar.
The album is infused with a vibe that would make The Breakfast Club right at home, especially on songs like the single “Crush” and “Can’t Read Your Mind,” with its 1980’s Techno/New Wave feel. Smooth elements here and the instrumentation creates musical flashbacks. British Pop and Molly Ringwald are dancing together here and that is what makes these songs great; transported to another time and place, listeners are along for a masterful trip. This is a twist on the Cary Brothers fans know from the past, as this album is filled with a fresh creativity intertwined with something familiar. This could be potentially scary for an artist that is treading on uncharted territory, musically. However, Brothers navigates these waters with skill, and the uptempo transition is natural and feels a long way from the Nashville roots where the singer grew up.
“Say” fills that cinematic essence that could connect to influences like R.E.M. and Peter Gabriel. Eloquent and lush with synthesizers, this is a true reflection of what sounds shape an artist once the animal is let out of the cage. Flipping back to the sound that fans are accustomed to hearing from the troubadour, “Cool City” has a Bob Dylan kind of stroll; a true story-song, listeners are along for the ride beautifully. Topically, this could be an homage to Los Angeles, which the artist calls home.
Love may be the overarching theme here on Bruises, and “Til the Stars” is destined to be heard again and again. Truly a stunning love song delivered with vulnerability, Cary Brothers puts himself into a category with J.R. Richards, the original lead singer of Dishwalla, with the level of emotion he manages to place into his Rock vocals. Where this cut will show up in the land of licensing, time will only tell. Heading out of the album, “Start Might Feel” has that comfortable, uncomplicated essence of a song that is trademark Cary Brothers, with backing vocals looped in to envelop listeners in a reassuring, acoustic finish.
Heading out, this leads simply into “Everything I Say.” Familiarity can be a great thing, especially when it is a flashback to “Blue Eyes” from Brothers’ debut All the Rage EP from 2004 – the single that was included in the Grammy-winning soundtrack from the Zach Braff film, Garden State. Acoustic guitar envelopes the essences of Bruises with the quirky cool of this song. Rising above all, sacrifice is love and love is a sacrifice; and so it goes.
The genius of Cary Brothers and his songwriting is his clear and adept talent towards minimalism. Closing out the album with guitar, piano, and strings is a testament to his orchestration, and how to create beauty out of both sacrifice and pain. It is, therefore, absolutely no shock or mistake that Cary Brothers and his music can so easily find their way into the soundtracks of so very many lives. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Cary Brothers’ Bruises 5 out of 5 stars.