Members of Deer Tick, Delta Spirit and Dawes join forces as Middle Brother
Anytime a collection of well-respected frontmen join forces, the term supergroup will inevitably get bandied about. But you won’t hear the members of Middle Brother ascribing that lofty title to themselves anytime soon. Yes, members John McCauley III (Deer Tick), Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit) and Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) have a hefty helping of the indie folk buzz in their respective corners. But even after the year of exposure each of their primary bands has had (everything from new albums to night-time appearances on "Letterman"), their humble moniker pretty much tells us where they stand on the issue.
“I don’t think any of these bands are on the level of what you’d normally consider a supergroup,” says Goldsmith, whose L.A.-based band is set to release a new album next year. “As of now, we’re definitely one of the little guys.”
Humility aside, the sprawling three-part harmonies blanketing the band’s woodsy, acoustic balladry will likely turn heads. L.A. fans are getting their first live taste of the band Monday during a benefit concert for Invisible Children, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding impoverished children in various parts of war-torn Uganda, at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. (Read more about the benefit over at Brand X.)
Though the band’s been about a year in the making, all three members have toured together at various points in their careers. MB made its debut during an impromptu performance at this year’s South by Southwest music festival (back then, they were simply called MG&V). Since then, the group has been preparing to unleash its debut self-titled full-length, slated for March 1, on Partisan Records. Joining them onstage Monday will be Cass McCombs, Mountain Men, Guards and Blake Mills.
The new album, constructed over a month with producer Adam Landry in Nashville, tested the band members' ability to not only make good songs, but also make good songs together. Three lead singers writing together? Sounds tricky.
“We thought at first we were gonna write a million songs together,” said Goldsmith, who adds that most of the principle songwriting was done individually. “We all write very differently; people would work at different paces as well. More of the collaborations ended up being on the arrangements and backing each other up.”
What emerges in songs such as “Daydreaming” and “Thanks for Nothing” is a light-hearted and focused sound that trades in Ryan Adams-esque Americana and the crisp harmonies akin to key influences such as Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Though the songs don’t attempt to push new aural boundaries, MB offers an easy transition to the respective shades of indie folk that the members create in their own bands.
“We’re hoping that Middle Brother will be an invitation into Deer Tick, Delta Spirit and Dawes, as opposed to a whole new sound for people to try to latch on to,” said Goldsmith.
Once the album is released, Goldsmith said the band is planning a 12-date tour with a sprinkling of one-off shows here and there. With 2½ months until its debut release, the longevity of the McCauley III, Vasquez and Goldsmith alliance can’t yet be determined. And even if does turn out to be super, the band is content to keep its status as a regular old group for now.
-- Nate Jackson
Photo: Middle Brother. Credit: Middle Brother's Facebook page.