The Burden Brothers | Mercy (Kirtland)

cd_burdenPolished and hidden behind gobs of eyeliner, the band seems to be hiding their age. Taz Bentley, drummer and ex-Reverend Horton Heat member, looks the worse, completely out of place, clinging to a rock and roll fantasy haunted by being youthful and energetic.

 

 

 

When a new album features a sticker on the front cover proclaiming "Featuring ex- (fill in the blank)", it usually means two things: it's not very good, and you're about to lose respect for someone you used to idolize. Case in point being current acts such as Audioslave and the extremely disappointing Velvet Revolver. Whether this is the stubborn act of not letting go of the past or the music not being up to par, it's exceedingly difficult to get comfortable and actually like new bands with old tricks. It was heartbreaking to me when the Toadies broke up in 2001, after releasing two of the most gut-wrenching rock albums ever produced. Time moved forward, so did I, and when Vaden Todd Lewis, Toadies vocalist and guitar player, formed the Burden Brothers, just like the aforementioned reincarnations, expectations were high…but not met.

The Burden Brothers just released their second LP, Mercy. Polished and hidden behind gobs of eyeliner, the band seems to be hiding their age. Taz Bentley, drummer and ex-Reverend Horton Heat member, looks the worse, completely out of place, clinging to a rock and roll fantasy haunted by being youthful and energetic. Lewis seems be in shape at least, but can't deny his aging rocker status. Maybe they're just carrying on a long tradition held in place by revived bands. In reality, the Burden Brothers look tired.

The music on Mercy also seems to parallel an aging rock band: strong out of the gate, but slowly coming to a wheezing, diabetic halt. The first chunk of songs are as well-built as anything the Toadies have ever written. Lewis proves he still has one of the strongest and most passionate voices in rock today. But over the course of Mercy, the songs get uninspired. By the end of the album the songwriting isn't present, the passion is translucent, and the artistic ideas the Burden Brothers entertain just seem lifeless and old.

It's not all a bust. The songs "Shine" and "Still" make a case for hit songs. The single, "Everybody Is Easy (We Sink/We Swim)" is a decent attempt at staying modern while still employing what made the ex-bands great. Even better, Lewis is still into being lyrically creepy, which is a relief, and likes to murder women in his songs. He can even now make skin crawl with a single line. "Throw your anchor out to sea/ Cut it loose and let it sink/ Keep this promise on your lips/ Breathing slowly as you drift/Let the tide take you out with it/ It will bring you back to me." You do what you're good at, right? C+ | Chris Schott

RIYL: A lifeless Toadies

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