Brown Shoe “Vanity” (Self-Released)
Aside from the less than desirable band name, Brown Shoe are rather impressive on their second album, Vanity. Folsom, California’s Brown Shoe consists of three brothers and a friend and what the band creates on Vanity is a relative hodgepodge of sounds. Notable influences span everywhere from Interpol to Sigur Ros to My Morning Jacket. Now, I can understand your apprehension. A band with such noticeable influences can not possibly stir everything up into one listenable sound. Or can they?
Opening track “The Ship” starts things off a beautifully high note. With the track, the band is able to touch on the majestic recent works of a band like the The National or even early Interpol. “Watershed” and “Screaming Dinosaurs” bring to mind another couple of noticeable influences. The band’s use of tempo and dynamic in these songs brings to mind Sigur Ros while the vocal approach reminds one of Jim James of My Morning Jacket. It’s a brilliant combination to hear and one that Brown Shoe performs quite admirably. After a stellar beginning four tracks, Vanity stumbles a bit in the middle. The band would have been well-advised to cut some of the fat here as the album struggles to hold its 60 minute weight. However, Brown Shoe rebounds with the rousing and atmospheric instrumental “II” which shows the band could make quite a living without vocals. “Goodnight Old Man” is a slow acoustic number which brings to mind the great work of Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon). Brown Shoe touch on many different genres across Vanity. While the band may stumble at times, they always sound confident and even triumphant while experimenting with their sound.
The only problem Brown Shoe runs into on Vanity is that the band seems to act on every idea and eccentricity they have. The band still seems to be searching for their true sound. That should be encouraged though…not necessarily frowned upon. But, at times Vanity simply lacks cohesion and that hampers the album’s overall feel. The band does have something special that shines to the surface many times across Vanity‘s 60 minutes though. If they can harness those moments with more precision, Brown Shoe is well-prepared for the future.
RIYL: Sigur Ros, My Morning Jacket, Doves