JEFF the Brotherhood - Hypnotic Nights
Less than thirty seconds into JEFF the Brotherhood's first major label record, Hypnotic Nights, you're reminded that this is indeed a Jeff the Brotherhood record, and not one that has been poked and prodded by the hands of a wealthy man in a nice suit who works for Warner Brothers. "I want a place where I can smoke wheat / where I can drink and swim in the creek" croaks one half of the brother duo, Jake Orrall, on the album's opening track 'Country Life'. I guess it's kind of significant that Hypnotic Nights opens with this tune, not just for the context of the record but in the way that it's a song that is quintessentially JEFF the Brotherhood: it's the story of bumming around; living a carefree life out in Nashville, Tennessee where every day's just another party near a creek. Of course fans of this band are going to go into the record a little cautious, if you've watched or read any recent interviews with these guys then you'll know that they come across as really awesome dudes. And that's just it: it's hard to imagine them being scooped up by a label as huge as Warner Bros. But you know what? Fuck all sell-out connotations. This is Orrall brothers' time, and Warner Bros. have made a ballsy move that has paid off big time.
Heavy Days and We Are The Champions were crammed full of riotuous, riff-heavy rock'n'roll party anthems. This is undeniable. Songs like 'U Got The Look' and 'Cool Out' with their blistering finger-wizardry; tracks like 'Bummer' and 'Stay Up Late' wholly relatable, hugely youthful lyrics. These tracks – complete with their irresistible, psychedelic garage-rock fusion – were made for making noise to. Hypnotic Nights is the guy at the party who's smoked just a little too much– this record essentially becomes Slater from Dazed and Confused. Sure, things start out pretty normal – chilling out with a few friends in the sun, cracking beers and getting wasted with good friends in the tremendous lead single 'Sixpack' (just try not to hum along with the ooh's!), but then suddenly things get a bit hazy after a few too many doobies.
'Mystic Portal II' is a stoner's paradise, and sees our heroes starting to prang out over some glorious classic rock riffs dripping all over the place with psychedelic ooze. It's neither a end-of-the-night track nor a party starter: it's simply right in the middle of the moment, sandwiching itself perfectly between what you find on Heavy Days and We Are The Champions. This is music that will make those Warner Bros. execs sweat at the thought of what they're endorsing.
And it continues: 'Hypnotic Mind' raises the ante again and assaults the senses with another huge dose of riffage with that loveable doofus-esque aesthetic (and a damn catchy chorus, too), 'Wood Ox' mixes things up a bit with a keyboard-led (!) intro that explodes into a mosh-ready eruption and 'Staring at the Wall' sounds like what I imagine goes through Sylvester the Cat's ears every time he experiences a head trauma.
Things do start to wear a little thin during the last couple of tracks though. The high starts to wear off; the sun is probably starting to rise and people are probably getting a little bit cranky. 'Dark Energy' lacks the usual finger-lickin' hook these guys are now certified in; 'Hypnotic Winter' is not as hypnotic as it is a huge tangent, and the closer 'Changes' is exactly what it says on the tin: starting off as a bleak, drawn-out drone-fest which slowly emerges as a psychotic synth-heavy wailer. It's definitely time to go home now.
But you still had fun, right? This is what Hypnotic Nights is all about. It's certainly not the biggest party of the year, but it is one of the more memorable times you could ever spend with good friends over a few beers and a couple of joints. It's refreshing to see a major label put money into a band like JEFF the Brotherhood and allow them to continue doing what they do best: making a fucking racket. Crack open a can and enjoy yourself, this one's for Friday night.