One of the biggest cultural changes for me when I came to Canada was coping with the incredible amount of country music on the radio stations here. Not that a lot of it is really ‘country’, mind you. Country is Brad Paisley, Johnny Cash and Sonny Landreth. That’s not a value judgment, it’s just the truth; much of the country on the airwaves is country rock, designed to be more accessible, easier for everyone to square dance to. There’s nothing wrong with that, if you ask me, but there’s something about modern country that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. Everyone from Tom Petty to Bo Burnham has had their grievances with a lack of authenticity in a lot of modern acts, politely but firmly asking for something a little more.
Their authenticity and stellar musicianship merge with a pop-like catchiness to create songs that get stuck in your head in the best way. Their debut (and currently only) LP Let it Lie was recorded slowly, and was just as slow to gather an audience after it was self-released in 2013. In 2014, however, they signed a deal that saw it released to a larger (and very receptive) audience in 2015. It’s a stellar record, with influences everyone from Ry Cooder to John Mayer, and it puts all of their greatest assets in the foreground. Joey Landreth and Ariel Posen may well be the two greatest guitar players of their generation. The album can only hint at the extent of their powers; the best examples lie in live performances. Their Audiotree session, available on YouTube, contains an extended jam on the track ‘Runaway Train’, that tells you everything you need to know about how good they are. Their brilliant songwriting is what stands out most in the studio, however. Personal favourites include the uncontrollably funky ‘Made Up Mind’, the soulful opener ‘Our Love’, and the raucous ‘Going to the Country’. Though the brilliance of their lead guitarists is always on display, there’s plenty of room for the groups other strengths. Almost every member of the band is a singer, and every one of those voices gets to shine; Let it Lie has some of the most beautiful male vocal harmonies I’ve ever heard. Joey Landreth (taking on lead vocalist roles on top of his guitar playing) has a fantastic voice that can handle the more soulful moments like the acoustic title track as well as it can handle the more rock ‘n’ roll moments. They’re masters of their craft, and every song on the record is just another example of that.
After the success of their record took them on tours of both North America and Europe, the band took a break in 2016. Posen moved to Dublin and has become a stalwart part of the YouTube guitar community, lending his talents to gear demos on the popular Andertons Music Store channel. He and Landreth have both appeared on ThatPedalShow to geek out about their guitar gear and show off what fantastic players they are. Posen offers the occasional Skype lessons for eager fans, and Landreth has released a solo album, ‘Whiskey’, every bit as emotional as the band’s output, but with even more of his unmatched skills on display. According to the band’s website, the time apart was difficult for them all, but ultimately it helped them. ‘It let us realize just how important and deeply satisfying it is for us to make music together and that’s something that we won’t soon forget’.
Towards the end of this summer, the band were reunited. They locked themselves away together until an album came out of them, and at long last another is on the way. They briefly toured out west in Canada and the States, and they plan to come to the east coast and possibly even Europe in the new year, hopefully bringing their sophomore effort with them. If you get the chance, you’d do very well to check them out; whether you like old country or new, there’s something to love in the Bros. Landreth.