10 Things I Love about JEFF the Brotherhood
I've been talking a lot about this band JEFF the Brotherhood from Nashville. Now I'll tell you how they captured my heart.
1. It started with this video.
This home video of JEFF the Brotherhood playing in a basement was my first introduction to the band. I could write a thesis about this video. As an artifact of Rock & Roll, this clip has it all: Drums. Guitar. Noise. Beer. Girls. Boys hanging from the rafters. Youth. Over in 2 minutes. (Note, the song doesn't start until around the 50 seconds mark.) It's incredibly raw, but I could tell that there was something there.
2. They're the stripped-down essence of everything you love about rock music.
Not long after I spotted the video, JTB became the toast of the town at the CMJ music festival in NYC. It was nice to feel validated. The CMJ reviews applauded the same qualities that intrigued me: back to basics, drums and guitar, simple and heavy.
3. The guitarist has "Jamin" written across his guitar...
...but that's Jake. He named his guitar after his brother, Jamin, the drummer. How cute is that?
4. And another thing about the guitar... it only has three strings.
I don't know how those boys make such a thick snarl of sound with only a drum kit and three guitar strings. This might be a good point to mention that they are excellent musicians. They've been playing together since they were 10 and 12 years old, so they've had lots of practice.
5. The songs.
What pushed JTB from being a curiosity to a favorite is that their songs are really good! Their release "Heavy Days" is loaded with straightforward, solid, pop melodies drenched in noise. In that respect, their music reminds me of the post-punk scene I enjoyed back in the day (Naked Raygun, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, etc.), especially when you experience them live. It's also a refreshing change from some of the studied, smartypants music I've been listening to lately. They are just doing what feels good without over-thinking it.
6. (and speaking of not over-thinking...) The lyrics.
"Don't want to be your friend. Don't want to see your band." The lyrics are as straightforward as the music. Just young guys talking about stuff you'd expect young guys to be talking about. Whether to hang out or not hang out, or where to go if they do hang out. "Life is going pretty okay."
7. Their kick drum says JEFFRO TULL.
8. They brought a fog machine to a radio broadcast performance.
Says Jamin, "When there's fog, it's always Friday night."
9. And did I mention they're cute?!
Exceptionally so. Look how well they cleaned up in their SPIN Magazine fashion spread. They are also very nice... like good Southern boys (although, they haven't called me "Ma'am").
10. Last, and most importantly, their shows.
Their recorded songs sound good, but really, it's all about their live show. That's where you can take it all in at the proper volume (LOUD) and appreciate their raw energy. I generally don't go for extended "jams," but somehow they get away with it.
I like how they still face each other when they play on stage—you can see the years of practicing at home just like that. I also love how Jake jumps off the stage into the audience and often runs around the club a bit. It makes the audience part of the show.
And I can attest to that. The JEFF the Brotherhood show at the 1808 Club was my favorite performance of this year's SXSW. It was more like a house party than a showcase, with the band playing in the center of a sing-along moshpit of friends and fans. Last year, I was excited about seeing DEVO from the front row. I watched this show from Jake's HAIR! (See my video below.)
You know, it was kind of like being in that video that started it all (even if I am twice the age of anyone in that basement).
Is this my favorite band and favorite music ever? No, probably not. But they've got something going for them that I can't say of a lot of bands these days... a total package. It's the music + attitude that makes them not necessarily better than their contemporaries, but for me, it makes them more interesting and a lot more FUN.
UPDATE: They love me too!