Reviews:: BARR Summary

I fully admit this record is not going to be in everyone’s wheelhouse. I mean, a spoken word type style over top of a snare drum or keys doesn’t really sound like something any non-hipster could get into, but if you take the time to listen to the new BARR record – Summary – you will be pleasantly surprised.

BARR (aka Brendan Fowler) takes a new approach on his latest release, using a full backing band and a more structured mellow sound that sees him drift from his pseudo spoken rap style into a more song oriented vibe. While the focus of his work is still his narrative, the added instrumentation (bass, keys, more complex drums) makes some of these introspective tracks really funky and more pop oriented (Half of Two Times Two).

BARR falls into that group of artists that use narratives about their day-to-day lives, and still somehow force me to keep listening. Like The Streets and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (admittedly these acts are more diverse and musically challenging), BARR relies on Brendan’s ability to tell a story, and like Mike and Owen he’s able to engage a listener with a simple one beat drum riff (proven on Complete Consumption of Us Both).

His back story is an interesting one. He grew up playing music with his friends (that would go on to form Animal Collective), studied free jazz, DJ-ed – all of which would make you think he fill his thoughts with loops and layers, as opposed to a minimalist style. Understanding his back story and his art background (he also writes and runs ANP Quarterly) you’d expect this project to be self indulgent and pretentious. Instead, you get a short, honest record that opens the listener to Brendan’s success, failures and everything in between.

He talks openly how his style will never create singles (The Song is the Single) and how music has limited the creativity of artists. Nothing is taken at face value these days, and money drives everything. "The song is the single, but the single sucks." He talks openly about the trials of being friend with a junkie, and the inane bullshit that results from it, "I do get scared when you are three days into a binge and I’m actually texting you back, ‘please don’t die’." He talks openly about stealing lyrics from his friends and replays the inner monolog we all experience from a failed relationship.

While none of this sounds all that impressive on paper, if I told you someone would sell a million records about returning a dvd and losing a grand behind his TV you’d be skeptical too. Hearing someone say, "I can’t be a boyfriend, but I promise to be a considerate one-night stand" over a hip hop riff is strangely enjoyable and more strangely addictive.

Everyone complains that music sounds the same, especially in the indie scene. If you are looking for a fresh sound that doesn’t just use the same old hooks and layers, I can’t recommend BARR enough. It’s not going to grab you with one hook, and maybe that’s something we all need right now.

MP3:: Half of Two Times Two
Web page :: label :: myspace

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