“We wrote and recorded this album with happiness and excitement. We want listeners to simply enjoy it and not think about it too much.”
That’s what Caleb Spaulding said of The Ides of March, the new album from Hampton, Virginia’s The Brothers Spaulding. Created by Caleb and his brother Will, and executed by a cadre of musical friends, The Ides of March is a nice, easy afternoon listen. While I love the sentiment of the above quote, it is literally my job to think about records, so… sorry Caleb.
The Brothers Spaulding bring a mix of funk, folk, and Americana to their record. This lends a bit of breadth, but it also lends a bit of a wandering feeling to the record, like they haven’t exactly figured out what sort of band they want to be. While it is certainly not inherently a mistake to incorporate disparate styles into one work (quite the opposite), it can be folly if one of these styles does not live up to the others.
On The Ides of March, the culprit is funk. The Brothers Spaulding go for a jam-band style funk feel, think Phish or Slightly Stoopid or most “funk” bands you saw in college. Now, I’m the first to admit that this is not my preferred style, but the funk songs on The Ides of March still fall a little short. Funk is all about groove – does it feel really, really good when you listen to it. While these songs on the record are not bad, they’re not quite all the way “there.” I’m just not sure if I really believe them.
Where The Brothers Spaulding do shine is with Americana. Songs like “New England” and “Been All Around This World” come off much more naturally. The guitar sounds are great in this setting, and The Brothers are able to show off their ear for vocal harmony. The drums are spot on, and the tracks just feel more comfortable all around.
The Ides of March is a nice set of tunes for a lazy sunny day. While the album falls short in areas, it shines bright in others. Perhaps next time around, The Brothers Spaulding will find a way to blend their obvious talent to fit their funk desires. Listen to the album below!