The Braves – I Am a Patriot

The Braves
I Am a Patriot

With fairness to the band, I have to start with the caveat that I have not heard any of their other songs, so I don’t know how much my impressions of “I Am a Patriot” generalize to the Braves’ other work. It is clear that the quartet has listened to a lot of different bands, as these sounds didn’t emerge in a cultural vacuum (not that Rockford, Ill. is a musical Mecca). The way in which their influences impact their music does not brazenly manifest itself all at once in one song. Perhaps from song to song you get more of a sense of different influences coming out in the music – much like the Shins, who seem to model each of their songs on a different style or band that they admire. Enough conjecture though, on to what I actually heard:

“I Am a Patriot,” taken from their Los Bravos EP indicates the confidence that these artists have playing music together. The riffs have a deceptive simplicity, with the bass heavy and jangly guitar mix reminiscent of early Sebadoh (while Lou Barlow’s melodies are more direct, Kevin Schwitters has a panache for writing subtle but equally infectious jingles). Joseph Reina’s vocals are refreshingly straight-forward and comfortable, never pushing the range of his tenor. The chorus is sure to get your head bobbing with bass and drums swinging full force. Everything gets quiet for the outro as the band hums a meditative harmonic “Uhhhh-oh, uh uh uh uh-oh.” The song’s only weakness is that the guitars are a little low in the mix, so you can’t always make out just how rich this contribution is to the overall sound, and that the lyrics are incredibly cryptic. The problem of overly simplistic lyrics is one which plagues Los Bravos, and rather than imbue these few words with emotion through the sheer strength of their delivery, the words minimize the power of “I Am a Patriot” to evoke an emotional response from the listener. With so much musical meat on the bone, The Braves could be an engrossing act if they spent an equal amount of time singing about something their audience can really connect with.

The Braves play like a seasoned rock band, despite the fact that they are in their infancy. Their buttery songsmithing, while sometimes a little too subtle for these ears, shows a lot of promise.