Album review: "Garden Window"
By Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
Don't be fooled by the band name O'Brother. Any reference to the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is merely a red herring, because this Atlanta quintet doesn't use an ounce of twang on its debut album, "Garden Window." Instead, the group showcases a noisy, fuzzed-out tone that creates a burning, brooding atmosphere.
Much of the album's insistent sound comes from singer Tanner Merritt, whose voice recalls the howling of Isis's Aaron Turner. But there's a smoldering fervor in the rest of the group, too. "Lo" sweats with an urgency accentuated by repetitive chords that feel as if they're accelerating into a frenzy, while the mellower "Poison!" maintains an earnestness with a barely bottled smoky tone.
"Garden Window" is a meticulously constructed album, with each song building and morphing into the next to create one continuous journey. O'Brother uses the same technique within songs; the sprawling 14-minute "Cleanse Me" builds to a roar, then drops to a whisper before exploding into a vein-popping wail. The group doesn't always hit the mark - the delicate closing number, "Last Breath," feels anti-climactic after such an intense journey - but what it lacks in editing, it certainly makes up with passion.