Brick + Mortar - Live @ Slim's

A while back I was listening to a mixtape by Plaid and somewhere around the seven and a half minute mark a song came on that kinda blew my mind. The vocals were pumped through some kind of low-fi/garage rock filter, the drumming was supremely boom-bap, and the lyrics had the profound-yet-jovial tone of someone like The Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Turns out that song is called ‘Move To The Ocean’ and in my opinion it’s a damn masterpiece. So when shortly after learning about that track I discovered the artists were coming so SF, I was floored.
Their name is Brick + Mortar and they are from New Jersey. I bought two tickets and when my original man-date was double booked I described them to my homie Alex as “sort of an alt-rock, garage-rock hybrid” which is another way of saying what I said in the first paragraph without admitting that these guys are too far ahead of their time to be defined. Needless to say Alex accepted my invitation and even bought me a drink once we got to the venue.

After Brick + Mortar played for a bit, I couldn't help but label their sound as “austere.” Robust, well-crafted verses built up to strong choral waves, with drum breaks and bridges reminiscent of Billy Martin. Never before have I heard music that harnesses golden-age hip-hop drums with tasty live guitar and conscious if not profound vocals delivered in the style of rock.

Being the opener for Vacationer, the only people at the venue (Slim’s) in time to witness these dudes were either a) there to drink and enjoy what the venue had to offer, or b) familiar with the band and willing to be punctual in order to catch their live set. So basically we’re talking about thirty people in a city known for its musical taste.

No matter; really. These guys are way ahead of their time and truly talented. Knowing only one of their songs, it was easy to enjoy their set, key in on their lyrics, and absorb their sound as something I’ve been seeking for a while and just recently found.

small potatoes will still make you a large fry

Over the course of six songs they utilized three or four dozen samples pre-sequenced such that the drummer could provide live accompaniment in a way that gave the duo a much larger sound than two men could hope to achieve. Such is the beauty of the sampler, the sequencer, and the drum machine. I truly appreciate that this is a component of their craft.

The overall result exceeded my expectations and left me wanting more. Except for some rare 7” I’ve heard rumors about, there is no available vinyl as they are not yet on a big enough label to publish. What I did get was a rare and intimate experience with a band that is surely headed upwards in mountainous fashion. It was an absolute treat and delight to catch Brick + Mortar at Slim’s, and if I’m even somewhat accurate in my takeaway, the next time I see these guys it will be at the Independent and they’ll be the headliners.


If you liked this blog entry, check out Jon Hopkins - Live @ Mezzanine