Coby Brown Group

Independent release, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


How do you know when an album confuses you? Simple: when you spend the better part of the day listening to a 38-minute album like Homesick from Coby Brown Group, trying to filter out all the branches of the musical lineage. Boy, do I need a hobby.

If this four-piece group based out of New York City reminds me of anyone right off the bat, it would have to be Dave Matthews Band being fronted by John Popper of Blues Traveler, simply because of the vocal patterns of Brown, his acoustic guitar work, and the simple yet complex style of the music the group plays.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Does it always work? Sadly, no... but in the group's defense, it works more often than it fails.

Where Brown and his bandmates - keyboardist Oscar Perez, bassist Anthony Perez and drummer Justin Varnes - hit paydirt is on the songs with a deeper meaning than might be evident on a cursory listen. Tracks such as "I'm Not Leaving" (which I read to be the tale of a soldier who chooses not to fight his battles - internal and external - any longer), "Dangerous" (with a devilishly clever, hook-laden groove) and "King Of Halloween" slap the listener across the face and challenge them to wake up and listen to the meaning, not just the words and the music.

Even on some of the songs which don't quite have that level of snap, such as "Please" and "The Distance," Brown and company prove that they have something to say, and that they should be taken seriously on Homesick.

The only area where this strategy fails them is when the band tries to lean back and catch a groove wave. "My Baby" and "Quick Fix" sometimes feel like they're being stretched out into longer jams just so the band can prove they're able to do this. The technical know-how is there on these, but the spirit of the moment isn't - and that's an essential part of making a longer cut work. Likewise, "Goodnight" sounds like it could have been lifted from the Dave Matthews fake book, and doesn't have nearly enough of Brown's personality to take it to the next level.

Is Homesick a bad CD? Of course not; there's ample material here to suggest that this is a group to keep a close eye on. But Coby Brown Group is still very young, and still has to develop their own style and atmosphere without relying too heavily on the work of bands who preceeded them. Chances are, the next time we hear from them, this band will be ready to challenge all comers... and I'll be happy to give them another spin. Until then, think of Homesick as a work in development.

For more information or to purchase this CD, please visit the artist's Web Site.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.