Here’s what we know. Nate Laban and Eric Ott have both enjoyed individual successes in their own respective songwriting endeavors. We also know that they’re good friends. So, it makes sense then that at some point in time they’d join forces and pump out some creative jams. That time is now.
Under the band name Brook, Bear and the Elephant (joined by other Seacoast musical vets Sean Yadisernia on lead guitar and vocals, and Dan McGary on drums and vocals), Laban and Ott have crafted a collection of nine tunes that push the bounds of each other’s general comfort zones. The result is grandiose, and the collective whole of their debut, “Montreal” is eclecticly interesting and wholly satisfying, from the influences that earned both of them individual praise to the inclusion of a little “Pet Sounds” era Beach Boys psychedelia pop, and contemporary Tweedy-ish playfulness and experimentation.
The most impressive part about the collaborative journey these fellas have embarked on is the successful forging of two uniquely different voices and outputting memorable vocal harmonies throughout the entirety of the record. I’ve long written about how Ott’s voice is reminiscent of Michael Stype, and the same is true of Laban’s Elvis Costello-ish punk-injected croon. Mash ‘em up, and you get some interesting results.
One of the highlights for me is the track, “Normal, IL.” Among the record’s other eight tracks one of the two gentleman take the vocal lead, while the other harmonizes in accordance with the general feel of the tune. On “Normal, IL,” both take the lead for a turn (while the underlying harmonizing still takes place). The track is fairly mellow compared with the rest of the offerings, but is cut right in half by a solo that you might find as a working piece of a Traveling Wilbury’s song structure. Upon completion of that slicing six-string flame, both Laban and Ott finish out the tune in unison, as the lead, levels both equally matched. It’s mighty fine.