Nostalgia is often a driving force in rock, and these days many bands are taking their cues from the Nineties — specifically pop-punk and Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine. Yet while some bands are too beholden to the past, Brasil uses its influences — Wilco and Pavement — as a starting point rather than a blueprint.
Each of the ten tracks on the Oakland band’s self-titled debut album is its own statement. Clocking in at half an hour, the album is economical and tightly edited. The opening track and obvious single, “Dr. Zero,” melds palm-muted power-pop riffing with twangy leads that build to an exalted crescendo. It’s meticulously crafted, with each section neatly trimmed for maximum efficacy. Singer Jasper Leech is alternately tuneful and dejected. His vocal style suits a band capable of both melancholic restraint (“Broomhouse”) and sneering bombast (“Drunk at the Controls”). He rambles incoherently about mythology on “Deep Ecology” and drops astrology references elsewhere. Leech’s reading is as eclectic and vintage as his songwriting. He’s not pontificating about lofty ideas; rather, he’s tackling big questions with great songs.
Brasil is more than the combination of Wilco-style downcast twang and Pavement-esque guitar indulgence; it’s a purge of Leech’s weighty psyche — a tool of effective songwriters no matter the era. (self-released)