I don’t usually go in for those “we-all-wear-grampa’s-sweater-and-sound-like-the-Mumford-sons” groups, but The Barr Brothers are different. Why? Because they’re from Montreal. (And because they don’t actually sound like Mumford and Sons.)
Not only have they recently appeared on the Letterman show, Exclaim also wrote this inventive little passage about them: “It’s a space in which Delta blues can mingle with Western African rhythmic structures, in which traditional British forms can be shot through with Appalachian energies and Asian melodies, where soft confessional folk songs might nod to Celtic themes while dropping allusions to Blind Lemon Jefferson.” (Well, they are apparently Canada’s music authority…) – This being a reference to the Barr Brother’s second album, Sleeping Operator, which was released in the Fall of 2014.
Do not be hasty to dismiss this as “country” or “folk.” (And while I’m giving out advice, don’t be hasty to think “country” or “folk” equates to embarrassing or mediocre tunes. Don’t limit yourself with genres! Don’t be hasty at all!)
The band itself, incidentally, refers to themselves as “sci-folk” and “mysterious roots.” Mysterious. I like that.
If you appreciate “sci folk,” a.k.a. muddy soul jams infused with harp, (and this is not some light little angel sound, either, Sarah Page can rip) or if you’re just an avid listener of local music soaring out of the narrow streets of our fair city into the ear holes of the rest of the world, then pay attention! Thrilling musical exploration takes place here constantly!
The Barr Brothers are, in fact, brothers (Andrew and Brad Barr) along with the aforementioned Sarah Page and Andres Vial, who are not their biological brothers.
Frankly, I can be a bit skeptical of the Americana revival, white men playing Mississippi blues, or acoustic guitars in general. It’s 2014, man. We should all have our spinal chords hooked up to giant synthesizers by now, yes?
However, I gave The Barr Brothers a real listen, and on a frigid, disgusting winter day in Montreal (where I believe the band itself is touring Southern California, the bastards), it warmed me up real nice.