Oct 222013

A personal note: I have a soft spot in my heart for The Brown Book. I’ve been following them since March 2010 when this site was a whopping four months old. I’ve reviewed nearly everything they’ve released, beginning with Thirty-Nothing (2009), and then Pyramid Scheme, (2011), and then a track named “Queer Street” (2012), which turns out to be a precursor to the album I’m about to review — though I did miss their live version of Pyramid Scheme. They’re completely DIY and lo-tech in their approach to recording, they’re scattered around the country (Boston, Brooklyn, San Diego, Cookeville, TN), they’re hardly prolific, and they don’t seek or get much attention when they put out new music apart from friends and the small scattered cadre of people like me who get excited when word of a new release reaches their ears.

I also have a soft spot in my head for The Brown Book. It’s that place where, over the years, their music has hammered away until the skull has been shattered with micro-fractures and you can feel the sponginess underneath. Their latest cranial demolition job is this year’s III: America’s Guest, and it’s their best work yet.

The new album is one long song, weighing in at 20:26. Unlike their previous releases, this one includes vocals — despite the fact that in my previous reviews I wrote that adding vocals would be a mistake. I’ll come back to that later, after I’ve mustered enough grit to admit I was wrong. Continue reading »

Jan 192012

I guess there are other stories like this one. It’s a big country after all, and a bigger world. But this story is running through my head this morning:

Three self-taught musicians join together back in 2008 (probably earlier) to form a band and make music. At the time, two of them live in Quincy, Mass (guitarist Jay O’Malley and drummer Ryan Lavery), and the third in Brooklyn (guitarist Mike Kvidera). They self-release an album in 2009 called Thirty-Nothing, which was written in a room by that name, pictured on the right — basically a utility hallway in the basement of an old shipping mill in New Bedford, Mass. A real underground, DIY operation.

I find out about the album the next year; I don’t even remember how. The music is heavy, it’s pummeling, it’s hypnotic, it’s discordant, it’s melodic, it’s unpredictable, it’s organized mayhem. It’s all of those things, plus some. I write about it here. I’m so taken with it that I track down guitarist Mike Kvidera and interview him, which runs along with that review.

Time passes. I lose track of this band until April 2011, when a Bandcamp page appears with The Brown Book’s name on it. The band has become even more geographically dispersed. O’Malley has moved to San Diego, and the band has enlisted a permanent bassist, Sam Matson, who’s conveniently located in Cookeville, Tennessee. They manage to self-release a new EP called Pyramid Scheme. It’s even heavier than the album, but like Thirty-Nothing, it’s deceptively chaotic and it captures my imagination. I write about it here.

More time passes, and then a few days ago a new song appears in my e-mail in-box. Continue reading »

Apr 232011

The Brown Book is a band we discovered in March 2010. Back then, they had an album to their credit called Thirty-Nothing, and we frothed at the mouth about it in a review and interview we posted here. Fast forward slightly more than one year, and here we have a new EP from The Brown Book called Pyramid Scheme. The band also now has available a Bandcamp page (here) where you can get a digital download of The Pyramid Scheme with a “name your price” option, as well as Thirty-Nothing for $4.

Now that we’ve got those logistical details out of the way, here’s why you should care about the new EP: Because it sounds like your life, though possibly with more distortion. There are times when you feel balanced, in sync with what’s happening around you, in control of your destiny. But you soon realize that feeling is fleeting, when all hell breaks lose, when you feel pulled in a dozen different directions at once, when the ground gives way beneath you, when an impersonal universe comes crashing down on your best-laid plans and all you can do is ride with it and do your best to enjoy the utter unpredictability of existence.

Or perhaps your life is more charmed and orderly than most, in which case you may need to better appreciate the freedom and sense of abandon that chaos brings. Either way, as a soundtrack to how you live or as a crushing departure from the ordinary, Pyramid Scheme is worth hearing.  (more after the jump, including a taste of the music . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 192010

NO CLEAN SINGING is the name of this site, but no singing at all can work just fine, too. Especially when the music slams us in the head like an intricately carved club. Case in point: The Brown Book.

It’s a daunting task for extreme metal bands to find a reward for their efforts, even when they’ve got talent and drive. The challenge of getting noticed and signed to a label is even more daunting for bands that dwell in the smaller crevices of that already small niche. But as The Brown Book proves, there’s some really interesting shit going on down there where not much light shines on the toilers.

The basic facts: Three dudes, two who live in Quincy, Mass (Jay O’Malley on guitar and Ryan Lavery on drums), and one who lives in Brooklyn (guitarist Mike Kvidera). No vocalist. One self-released album last year called Thirty-Nothing, which was written in a room by that name, pictured on the right — basically a utility hallway in the basement of an old shipping mill in New Bedford, Mass. With any luck, maybe a new album later this year.

So, you get the picture — a poster child for DIY metal. But with a twist: Instead of launching themselves into one of the more recognizable subgenres of extreme music, The Brown Book have been impelled into what some lazy commentators might call “experimental” or “noise” metal.

We know what those labels are meant to signify, and laziness is one of our favorite states of existence — but what The Brown Book are doing isn’t so easily classifiable. The music is heavy, it’s pummeling, it’s hypnotic, it’s discordant, it’s melodic, it’s unpredictable, it’s organized mayhem. It’s all of those things, plus some, and it sure as fuck hits our sweet spot. (more after the jump, including a short interview and a sample track to hear . . .) Continue reading »