The Belle Brigade Set Album Release
The album was co-produced by the band and musician/producer Matthew Wilder (No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom).
Inspired by Barbara and Ethan's love for Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, and Stevie Wonder, the album's artfully arranged, freewheeling songs brim with breezy, California melodies and bracing pop harmonies, fueled by the driving rhythms Barbara plays on drums. A longtime fixture on the Los Angeles music scene, Barbara is a sought-after live drummer who toured with Inara George and Jenny Lewis, among others, before she picked up a guitar and formed The Belle Brigade with her singer-songwriter younger brother Ethan two years ago.
Raised in a musical family (their father is songwriter/composer Jay Gruska and their maternal grandfather is renowned film composer John Williams), Barbara and Ethan have a strong familial chemistry, which, along with their obvious songwriting gifts, has resulted in one of the most thrilling debut albums of the year. As performed by the Gruskas and their talented group of backing musicians (bassist Bram Inscore, electric guitarist Blake Mills, pianist Aaron Arntz, and veteran Hammond B-3 organist Mike Finnigan), songs like "Sweet Louise," "Where Not To Look For Freedom," "Lucky Guy," and "Lonely Lonely," are tailor-made for road-tripping up the coast with the car top down, sunshine on your face, and the music blasting into the roar of the wind.
"We didn't want to make something small and precious," Barbara says. "We wanted to make something big and exhilarating. Recording this album was an incredible lesson at walking the line between holding on and letting go. Every note is intentional, but we gave up the reins to let the music go freely where it wanted to go. We wanted to make a record that was personal and aching, but still uplifting, relatable, and fun to listen to."
The album's thematic centerpiece is "Losers," on which Ethan and Barbara sing in perfect unison: "Don't care about being a winner / Or being smooth with women / Or goin' out on Friday / Being the life of parties... Or if I am a loser" and declaring "So I wanna make it known / That I don't care about any of that s*** no more." "The song is about being insecure and jealous and letting go of all the terrible things you can feel about yourself and realizing that life is not a game," Ethan says. "It's not a competition. It's kind of a pep talk to ourselves to remember that."
Local live favorites in Los Angeles, The Belle Brigade's shows have already attracted attention from critics. Former Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Bronson tipped his readers off about the group on his Buzz Bands blog praising their "winsome sibling harmonies [that] float above the propulsive music generated by a band of longtime friends." Beatcrave wrote: "As an Americana-infused folk-rock band fronted by the charming brother and sister, Ethan and Barbara, The Belle Brigade took us by surprise with their solid set. Tight, beautiful harmonies weaved in and out of their instrumentation that went from soft guitar strumming to boisterous, knee-slapping country-tinged dance anthems."
Los Angeles-area fans can catch The Belle Brigade performing live every Monday night in January at Club Spaceland's Last Monday Night Residency. The club is located at 1717 Silverlake Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027. Admission is free. www.clubspaceland.com.
The track-listing for The Belle Brigade is as follows: