Ethan and Barbara Gruska are brother and sister and they are also indie folk rock duo The Belle Brigade.
Barbara and Ethan met when Ethan was born. They knew they were brother and sister but they did not know that 19 years in the future they would form a band. — The Belle Brigade
I received this CD from a friend a few days ago after reading a couple articles about The Belle Brigade. I wanted to give it a listen because they have opened for some great bands such as Fitz and The Tantrums and Awolnation in LA… at the El Rey Theater. Hold up. I was there? That sounds way to familiar. Needless to say I was confused. I looked up a couple pictures of the band to try and jog my foggy memory and of course I recognized them right away! How could I forget about them?! Turns out I’ve been trying to remember this bands name/ where I had seen them since last november! Well I’m glad my dumb luck worked out this time and I stumbled back onto this band.
Where Not to Look For Freedom – The Belle Brigade
The one thing I love about so called “family” bands are the harmonies. There’s no question siblings seem to have a connection on another level. It’s basically a male and female version of the same voice and they achieve better cleaner harmonies because of it. With a signature of quick brush snare hits with sacred steel and fast acoustic strumming the appeal of The Belle Brigade is undeniable. And with a great backing band morphing the sounds of two people into five it just gets better.
Lucky Guy – The Belle Brigade
This record is a little all over the place. Not a bad thing, trust me. They have pure country, a little rock-a-billy and some slow quiet folk tracks.
“We didn’t want to make something small and precious,” Barbara says. “We wanted to make something big and exhilarating. Recording this album was an incredible lesson at walking the line between holding on and letting go. Every note is intentional, but we gave up the reins to let the music go freely where it wanted to go. We wanted to make a record that was personal and aching, but still uplifting, relatable, and fun to listen to.” — Paradigm Artist Bio
Growing up in a musical household Barbara and Ethan were exposed to the likes of Michael Jackson to Dusty Springfield through their father who was a known songwriter in his own right. With a studio in their LA area home’s back yard artists would come and go allowing the siblings to get inside and first hand experience listening to new music and hearing the process. On top of that they also site the famed film and TV composer John Williams as a major influence. To me this sounds about as musically well rounded as it gets.
The southern rock inspiration and country like harmonies are the driving force in this initial release, but I was very impressed with The Belle Brigade’s ability to turn the corner toward straight up rock and roll with a hint of that “indie” sound we all know and love.
Lonely Lonely – The Belle Brigade
And then they follow that tune up with a slow sad tune called “Punch Line,” a song featuring a gentle string arrangement strings and soaring harmonies. On most records I don’t like it when bands decided to jump in and out of genre’s and have major shifts in volume on their records without easing my ears into it. The juxtaposition between heavy and light, loud and quiet works very well here. These two songs are part of a three song set that are my favorite part of the record. The third song is called “Rusted Wheel” which is a song that starts off where “Punch Line” left off, slow. Then it builds into a big harmony laden country song with elements from the two previous songs. These three tunes highlight the dynamic range of The Belle Brigade while showing their ability to rock out and have fun and then immediately settle down and bring out a sad song and then ease us right back into the “big and exhilarating” sounds that drive this record.
Punch Line – The Belle Brigade
Rusted Wheel – The Belle Brigade
I’m a big fan of The Belle Brigade and I’m glad I was able to stumble back into their music after a few months of searching. This new full length release is a testament to good song writing and a partnership of great singing and musicianship. There are a bunch more tunes on this record that I didn’t post in hopes that you will go out and buy this record. It’s available on CD/ Vinyl or iTunes HERE. The Belle Brigade’s tour page is HERE as well. They are opening some dates for KD Lang all across the US and Canada.
Here’s the last tune from The Belle Brigades most recent self titled release. It’s yet another example of the dynamic range this band has.
Fasten You To Me – The Belle Brigade
By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC