Your Backyard


Rhubarb Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Have you ever heard of a didgeridoo? Chances are, unless you're reading this in Australia or you know something about the land "down under," you haven't. According to my trusty copy of Microsoft Encarta, the best way to describe this instrument is as an Aborigine trumpet made out of a hollowed-out eucalyptus branch. When played, it produces a drone-like sound that can be shaped by the player with their mouth. It's an intriguing sound, though I know some people that would probably put this up on the same shelf with Tuvan throat singing.

If you have ever heard the didgeridoo, would you have ever expected it to be used in popular music? I never would have thought about this instrument being used in such a manner, until I heard the Australian band Brother's latest disc Your Backyardmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . A group who is just beginning to get serious notice in the States, they are a pleasant pop group who utilize instruments like didgeridoo and bagpipes into more traditional guitar-driven melodies, with surprisingly pleasant results.

The brothers - Angus and Hamish - lead this group, which utilizes a mixture of live drums and samples on record. The brothers handle a lot of the instruments themselves, and though one might expect a little bit of performance degradation due to handling multiple instruments, these two prove themselves capable of the task.

The opening track "Stand Beside Me" will give most listeners their first taste of the didgeridoo. On this track, its use is intriguing, acting almost as a guide track for the rest of the song, which quickly falls into a pleasant little pop number that all should find enjoyable. After hearing this track just once, I found myself wondering why this band has not had a serious shot at U.S. fame until now.

Your Backyard continues in a poppy, harmonious vein with radio-friendly tracks like "2 Chairs & One Tree," "Mean To Me" and "In The Water," all songs which stood out as being exceptional. After a while, you might not even notice the way that bagpipes or penny whistles are worked into the arrangement; they all flow together so naturally.

The only problem with Your Backyard is that the formula starts to lose its magic about three-fourths of the way through the album. It's not that songs like "Midnight Sun" and "Purple Haze" (the latter is not a cover of the Jimi Hendrix tune) are bad, it's just that they don't stand out like some of the earlier songs did. The closing number, "thetimeisnow," has more of an outback sound to it, and is a nice enough way to close this album - if you don't count the faint, bonus track tacked on to the end of it.

Maybe some people would be scared away from Brother by reading that they're using instruments like bagpipes and didgeridoo, and that's too bad. Instead, it would be nice to have this song played to someone without them knowing what they were about to listen to, and let them become enchanted with the pop music that eeks out of the speakers. For in the end, it really doesn't matter that Brother is using different instruments to create Your Backyard; instead, it matters that they're good at what they do.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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 Rhubarb Records, and is used for informational purposes only.