Suck and blow

Article by: Derek J. Anderson

A large and rowdy brass ensemble from Providence, RI, What Cheer? Brigade blares loudly with attitude on their album We Blow You Suck (Anchor Brain Records, 2004). The whopping nineteen person band is full of eccentric members, describing themselves as playing “Luddite Hardcore, loud, mobile music requiring no electricity. We are a party band, and our sound incorporates elements of the following musical traditions: Bollywood, Balkan, New Orleans, Samba, and punk; that’s the short list,” on their Myspace.

The album is impressive upon the first listen. The music seems to complete the band’s goal to get people up and dancing. It is great party music and could probably pump up a bunch of depressed athletes before or after a game. We Blow You Suck is great for the purpose of having a good time.

As impressive and pumping the music is, however, What Cheer? Brigade’s music can get old fast. With a closer listen to We Blow You Suck, the repetition becomes abundantly clear. It is an album that could be listened to all the way through, can be mistaken for just one track. The horns tend to blend together after a while and the drumming becomes repetitive. The breakdowns of just drums or just horns adds some spice to the songs, but in the end, still don’t fix the repetition issue.

The band is comprised of all brass and percussion players, but lacks vocals. They do have the perk of being loud and probably put on a great show, but as for recorded music, What Cheer? Brigade unfortunately runs out of things to offer quickly. Maybe it is because they lack the other elements, like vocals and electric instruments, they are limited to what they can offer an audience via CD.

The album does have solid tracks though, “Malaguena,“ “Green Eyes,” and “Raining Buba” should be listened to, to get a full grasp of the band.

The ensemble most likely puts on amazing live shows. According to the band’s Myspace page, they have played with bands like Man Man, Wolf Parade, Japanther and Lightning Bolt. Their talent is definitely there and will wow listeners right from the start. According to their “About Me” section on Myspace, they have played “bars, clubs, libraries, trees, cemeteries, weddings, bus stops, farms, and playgrounds. They’ve played everything from small community events in Providence to a collaborative performance with Dan Deacon at Lollapalooza and large festivals in Europe. In one day in May 2007, they played five elementary schools and an after school program in Rhode Island.” Their main challenge is to keep their audience listening, which can’t be helped when the listener can hit a button to stop them from playing.

What Cheer? Brigade definitely has talent and an interesting and different approach to the music world. Their tracks are great but probably will be best delivered in a live performance. Unfortunately, the band’s eccentricity and energy can’t be shown well on their album. They should just continue to play live shows for audiences ready to dance and party all night long. With their costumes and attitude, What Cheer? Brigade could definitely put on a great party.