75OL-235 Eric Ott – In Lieu Of Flowers
$10.00 S&H Included
$10.00 S&H Included
2. Little Wars
4. Epiphany (feeling)
5. Pop Starlet
7. If You Were Thinking
8. Medicine Cabinet
9. These Pills
10. Crumble Your Bones
11. Our Dear Catherine
12. Under The Bed
Remember a time when you would sit on the floor, put your headphones on and listen to a record from start to finish? It took you to a place, perhaps under a sonic wave of angst, romance, sadness, or happiness. With new technology, it took the 45, or later the cassette singles too far, and we started cherry picking our favorite songs off these records. We were just choosing snapshots from a vacation rather than enjoying the entire experience.
In Lieu of Flowers is a throwback to the Long Playing Format. The LP. It touches on mortality, struggle, aging, suicide and ultimately death. At first it may seem as an arduous listen but pays off in the end as you will be taken to a different place. Like a movie or a book, or like the LP that you might have rolled your first cigarette on.
In Lieu of Flowers will not be available digitally. It will not be on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, Google Play etc. It is only available on CD. Some have said that I am crazy for rolling out a project that took me over 3 years to write and record. The answer, of course I am, I am an artist. Enjoy the trip and thank you for listening.
– Eric Ott
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.
Merging the distinct styles and personalities of songwriters on record can be a difficult endeavor. The musical camaraderie of Eric Ott, Nate Laban, and Sean Yadisernia is a testament to this process and its potential. Their collective experience in music spans decades and includes well-known Seacoast acts Mercuryhat, Eric and the Anxiety, and Laban’s solo incarnations. They’ve earned several nominations for various Spotlight Awards, including one this year for best rock act as Thrift Store Ransom, and Ott has taken home two awards for his songwriting.
“Montreal,” their first full-length album under the name Brook, Bear and the Elephant, is an ideal balance of two seemingly competing styles. Ott’s contributions are rooted in folk, pop-Americana, and alt-country, while Laban’s have evolved out of an eclectic, but decidedly heavier, punky sound that, even when unplugged, always produce considerable power.
“Tired Moon Eyes” exemplifies the lyrical and musical intersection of their respective styles. Here, Ott’s Bob Dylan-influenced folk has been energized, now channeling Jeff Tweedy over Laban’s driving, palm-muted riffs that recall Tom Petty rather than Fugazi. The upbeat song culminates in a chorus that’s cheerfully laden with poppy “ba ba ba bahs,” but masks a darker meditation on mortality.
From the Wilco-inspired “Crushing Cloud” and Ott’s signature folk sound on “Strung Photographs,” to the humorous and choppy punk n’ roll of Laban’s “5 Inch Knife,” the record remains cohesive despite its diversity. On the standout track “Death of a Salesman,” Laban’s infectious melodies bounce on a powerfully simple two-chord structure. “I could never kill myself, trying to be like someone else,” he repeats. Having benefitted from each other’s influence, Ott and Laban aren’t trying to be like anyone else — they’re reaping the rewards of evolution.