The Brothels – It's a Bird Game


The Brothels, Asheville,


I know it's the trendy thing to try and uncover a new band, a band that is going to be the next big deal. I'm sure many people would classify their existence as the person that brings unknown music to the masses. At least a producer or two. Anyway The Brothels are not one of those bands. This band has not made it big. The flame was just too bright and poof, like a hobo to a tire fire they were gone.

This fact does not mean they didn't create some INCREDIBLE music while that fire burned.

The Brothels – Be At Peace

This song is fantastic. The beautiful harmonica, the slow picking banjo, the sorrowful vocals, they all mix so perfectly. A special note on that banjo Jeff is playing what he calls "bent hammer" banjo. He explained it to me as his form of claw-hammer that he devised when he couldn't figure out how to play proper claw-hammer. It is basically the classic "bum – dit – ty" claw-hammer rhythm without the thumb hitting the drone string. He also plays his brush beats directly over the bridge, which brings in an added percussive tone. Listen closely. 

Now for the Brothels. Think the essence of Tom Waits meets the energy of Gogol Bordello. The track I've decided to share with you, Be At Peace, is the fourth track off this seven (8) track gem, and one of the more subdued selections. I have chosen it for the haunting feeling you get while listening to it.

"All that's caged will one day be released, plant your seeds and prepare for the feast."

I first encountered the Brothels in West Asheville, in an infamous bar known to most as the Admiral. They actually were not playing, our first interaction was an impromptu rock, paper, scissors game, which is not a strange occurrence in that circle. I saw them shortly after at MoDaddy's Pub, and then a few times at Mikes Side Pocket before they disbanded. An incredibly talented group of musicians the demise of the Brothels lead to multiple side projects, each worth checking out. James (vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar, trumpet, mountain dulcimer), Steve (mandolin, electric guitar, banjo, fiddle, pennywhistle, bass, vocals) and Justin (harps, rub-board, vocals) now play with Humble Thumb. Jason (drums, mandolin, vocals) now plays with the Ivan The Terribles, who just released their first album More Guns Than People. If you think you can handle it here is a really low production, self made video for their song Male Prostitute (explicit version). (Warning: Nudity) But I digress.

The most stand-out track on the Brothels 2nd album It's a Birds Game is The Sworded Tale of Cap'n Bill Nelson, the seventh track. The song was inspired by a real person, and although it bares a striking similarity to the true story of Admiral Nelson of the British Navy, I have been told it is a coincidence. At the surface level it serves as a quasi pirate manifesto. You can hear a live version on their myspace page, and a stellar recording on the album. Attics, Who Didn't Kill Piranha Pete, and The Death of Rosalee also deserve mention based on their catchy melodies, layers of sound, and infectious lyrics. Drop these guys a line, see if you can get them to reunite, or at least give 'em a few bucks and get a fantastic album. If you can't get a hold of them and are interested leave a comment with your email, I'll get you in touch.