O’Brother may be one of the most underrated bands on the touring circuit today. The five-piece is known for performing a combination of post-rock and post-hardcore. They come across as intense in recorded form, but exponentially moreso in their live performances. After the release of two EPs, nearly a year ago their debut full-length Garden Window hit online retail outlets. It got rave reviews, and made my personal top five releases of 2011. Now, they are back with Basement Window, an EP of five reworked tracks off Garden Window. Arguably, these five were some of the strongest on the LP so in my opinion they were taking a big risk by doing alternate versions. Did they succeed? For the most part, yes.
So, you might be wondering how exactly they chose to rework the songs. As I mentioned before, the band is known for their blend of post-hardcore and post-rock stylings. This time around, they chose to explore the post-rock end of the spectrum. The end result is nearly a half-hour of at times creepy, at times dreamlike, at times dark, and at times spacey post-rock with toned down vocals. If you listen to Basement Window and Garden Window back to back, you really get an appreciation for how talented Tanner Merritt is as a vocalist. The primary downside to the record is how similar the songs sound upon first listen. So, this record is only for those diehard O’Brother fans who have a true appreciation for what they do. This is fine, since that’s who will probably be curious about this record anyway! This isn’t to say that you can’t hear hints of the original versions. Take “Malum” for example – both are driven by a steady drum beat, although the alternate version is nearly twice as long and far quieter than the original. “Poison!” applies the same echo-affect to the vocals, albeit accentuated far more, and done amidst a distorted guitar riff. It goes without saying that bass player Anton Dang is probably using a bow on his bass throughout most of the record. Essentially, I can see myself being drawn to this EP over and over in a “late at night, zoned out” scenario. Those happen frequently, I’m happy to say. Anyone agree that they would love to see a Basement Window only live show from these guys?