The Brothers Groove’s first disc, 2000’s Clamp It Down, was a funky assault on the reptilian brain. Bassist James Simonson’s kinetic plucking fibrillated the sternum while then-drummer Michael Caskey beat out a subliminal code that induced a zombie-link mantra: “Must dance … Must dance.” Savant keyboardist Chris Codish’s bouncing licks and clever, irreverent braying mainlined the medulla oblongata, the center of involuntary reflex. It’s nigh impossible to hear Clamp It Down — or last year’s cover-heavy live set Layin’ in the Cut — without becoming a booty-shaking bobble-head.
This is all instructive when considering TBG’s second studio release, So Glad You Came, wherein the Bros conspire a decidedly more cerebral seduction. They succeed to impressive extent. Thematically, musically and lyrically, So Glad signals a maturation of stellar musicianship. The party isn’t over — it’s just moved upstairs. Good choice.
Since Clamp It Down, TBG has added guitarist Erik Gustafson to the lineup, and his personality and influence are evident, and good. So Glad is a complex profusion of fusion — funk, blues, jazz, rock, even rap — an alchemic distillation of modern musical culture like little else in the record store.
Codish is light on the keys, choosing to showcase his vocals, which suggest a ragged coupling of Dr. John and Frank Zappa. Aptly, the title cut is the magnum opus, a cathartic jam that seethes with genuine angst. Codish huffs: “You can get out of my house/You can pack up all your stuff/ I don’t want you hangin’ round.” Gustafson’s work here — everything from chunky industrial grind to gooseflesh-inducing whale shrieks — would give Joe Walsh a boner.
Hearing Codish wail, “You’re the best thaaaang to come my way” on “The Best Thing” finds him at the peak of his signature insouciance. The pop-ish “You Got It” comes with a radio-ready organ riff and Gustafson on, yes, electric sitar. The indignantly satirical “Get My Cut” is a pithy send-up of greedy Generation Xers, as in, “I woke up this morning with a business plan.” “Iron Pimp” is a reference to a slot machine, and the tune — replete with otherwise annoying slot chiming — is tart commentary on the allure of gambling, the taxation of ignorance, the myth of something for nothing.
Through it all, the rhythm section of Simonson and Todd Glass skillfully, discreetly, selflessly spin a sturdy web that buttresses all the other moving parts. That’s no small feat. (Glass has since left the combo; Skeeto Valdez now mans the skins.)
With Clamp, TBG blew your doors off. On So Glad, with its softer mix and risky, intricate arrangements, the Bros would rather pick your lock. Either way, they’re coming in.
The Brothers Groove perform Wednesday, Nov. 26 at the Majestic Theatre (4140 Woodward, Detroit) with Bump and Blend. Doors open at 8 p.m. Call 313-833-9700.
Jeremy Voas is the editor of Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.