Little Brother Eli – ‘Little Brother Eli’ EP Review
After 6 months of songwriting and honing, the musical bonding of Alex Grew and Joshua Rigal gathered around themselves three new musicians to expand their duo into a penta to flesh out the sound they’d created. Little Brother Eli emerged in early 2013 with this, their self-titled debut EP. Taking influence from and making musical nods to both the classic blues greats and old skool hip hop, they put these seemingly disparate influences together and produce music with a heavy emphasis on the former that differentiates itself from the pack via the latter.
Dirty, scruffy guitar is the order of the day for opener ‘Animal Fair’, with a defiantly cheesy Marty McFly guitar solo to cap things off, unabashedly following their idols and pulling it off with great aplomb. They mine a very similar vein of blues-inflected rock as The Black Keys, albeit with a more strongly voiced singer and wonderfully evocative lyrics conjuring up images of some poor drunk down-on-their-luck chap antagonising the monkeys in their cages. Their leisurely, loose playing style is so effortless, belying their tight musicianship. They step out from the shadow of Black Keys to become more their own creation with ‘Awkward Positions’. Here we have a more spaced-out, delay-laden song where the singing really comes to the fore and shows other would-be blues frontmen how it’s done. A fine set of pipes, he has. More contemplative and crooning than its predecessor, the strong emotional core of traditional blues music is captured to perfection.
‘When She Sings’, the self-appointed B-side of this trio of songs, takes in doo-wop sounds with the guitar doing a very good impression of a brass section. It is certainly the more derivative-sounding of the collection to begin with, aping rather than being merely inspired by their forebears. Until the 1:50 mark, that is, where it rises with distorted guitar to a rousing barroom style ‘la-la’-along, elevating it into something great before fading into the softly strummed coda, a guitar and voice refrain of the chorus.
A strong collection of songs here, that certainly leave an equally strong impression on the listener. Emerging as if from a timewarp and quickly adapting to modern times by adding liberal dashes of noisy guitar to a well-trodden formula, Little Brother Eli look and sound like the Ghosts of Blues Past, Present and Yet To Come arrived to show modern music the error of its ways.
Little Brother Eli are playing live at Rattlesnake of Angel, London, this Thursday 12th September. Entry is £3 before 8pm, £5 thereafter. Ably supported by DOLLS, who loyal Shlurers will recall from Quidrophenia, it has the look of a great night about it.