text links at bottom of page
2 views of Joe, Marc's Brother

                around the year with...  JOE, MARC'S BROTHER

I have a single-word review of this record, but that would make for a boring read, so I'll save it for last. Don't look. In most cases, the drive for a band to get signed to a major label precludes the spark of true, brave originality that might compromise their image corporately. There's absolutely no trace of that syndrome in this band, or on this record.

Lovingly preserved and essentially captured by the sparkling team of Brad Jones and Robin Eaton of Alexander the Great Studio, the record leaps right off the player, and makes you want to explode yourself into the highest level of that which you might be capable. Because that's what they're doing.

Guitarist Joe Pisapia's songs are so non-derivative, it makes other acts look positively simian in their approach. The length and breadth of his writing reminds me of XTC, though his sense of humor is decidedly American. He is a wonder to behold onstage. The man seems to have no backbone, I've never seen anyone move quite like him. If a snake practiced the guitar all his life, perhaps he could hope to look like him. As to his musical abilities, he makes love and lays waste to his guitar simultaneously and relentlessly through a show. It's mindblowing to see his very challenging guitar arrangements get absolutely ripped through the middle while he and his cohorts are laying down record perfect vocals of lush, unusual harmonies. And laughing their asses off while they do it. The only pop guitarist I've ever seen (in his pre-guitar-hero days) who played that outrageously live was Joe Satriani, in a great Northern CA group called The Squares. (Eric Johnson was always too bent on perfection to be in the outrageous category.)

James "Hags" Haggerty's bass playing is a macho marriage of harmony and rhythm. They're not bass drum heavy, it always feels like low notes are driving the bottom end, which is also a tribute to the near-symphonic finesse of drummer Marc Pisapia. It's all about the vocals, because it's all about the songs, and all three guys sing like deranged angels. Brave is what this band is, and they proved it when they lit out on a no-budget tour of the country this summer in a van and stayed out with no dates for months, serendipitously setting up on street corners and, no doubt, amazing the passers by who must have wondered where their spaceship was parked.

Get this record, if you like music. It will turn you on but good. They're everything a band should be. Why aren't more bands like this? Well, I think they'd like to be. But it takes that most elusive thing of all, the vessel into which the lifeblood of all serious artists is poured. Greatness.
• FG

Learn more at www.joemarcsbrother.com

puremusic home          listen to clips            view cover