First Spin, First Impressions: Elliott BROOD, “Country”

Elliott BROOD - Country

When Southern ON-based alt-country band Elliott BROOD released their “Town” album back in November (a GDW 2023 Top 20 Album), they announced that this was the first half of a two-part album release, which would be followed by “Country” in early 2024. Per the band’s press release, “Town spoke of the experiences of being away, of missing loved ones, of facing mistakes and reconciling consequences.”

When factoring in the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced bandmates Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso, and Stephen Pitkin to live separate lives (with Casey isolated across the continent in Southern California – where the closure of the Canadian border made it impossible to return home), this forced separation would itself become a time for reflection and renewed inspiration for these new releases.

As discovered with “Town,” Casey’s longing for his hometown of Windsor, ON influenced “Rose City,” while Mark’s “Stars Align” bursts open like a shooting star flying overhead, oozing with energy and retro doo-wop swagger. And as we’ve come to expect with any BROOD album, “Dried Up” finds the guys collaborating with joint vocals to deliver another anthem that will prove popular on the live circuit. “And I’m gonna go and / Spend all the money that I made on / A whole bunch of things I don’t need like / A whole lot of whiskey and weed / Tonight we’re gonna have / A hell of a time lord / We’ll stay up late and miss work in the mornin’ / It’s been a hard time.”

Elliott BROOD

These themes and influences transition nicely into “Country,” which is formally released today via Six Shooter Records as the yang to “Town’s” yin – and completes the song cycle with eight more cuts. We were fortunate to pick up a pre-release copy on vinyl at one of the band’s recent ON shows, so feel the need for a disclaimer – that this is NOT the first spin of the album here at home (there have been many – it’s Elliott BROOD – how could we not?), but these musings DID derive from those first impressions as the tunes were cranked out loud.

Sharing “Wind and Snow” earlier this year, itself the opening track from this album, the trio craftily weaved their “signature high-test stomp” from all over “Town” into “Country.” “Wind and Snow is the true story of a cross-country journey from Toronto to California,” the band shares. “It’s a story about chasing after a girl for thousands of miles only to find out the relationship is probably over.” As a road trip song inspired by other great road trip songs, this one has a fabulous capering pace (not unlike “Bird Dog” from “Keeper”) and some creative word play within the lyrics, where “I took them trippy little hippies right across the Mississippi” is topped only by “I still taste the Wild Turkey when I burn through Alburquerque.”

Elliott BROOD

If you get out to catch this band out on the road, it’s likely that you’ll hear a cover or two thrown into their set – but aside from a few recent digital-only releases, rarely will you find them recorded, much less on a physical album release.  Elliott BROOD throw caution to the wind here on “Country,” offering up their interpretation of the Rodney Crowell hit “Bluebird Wine” (found on their 2023 “Covers Collection” digital-only EP), and more surprisingly, a slow, country styled version of The Rolling Stones’ “Out of Time.”  “I only ever knew Out of Time from the Del Shannon album Drop Down And Get Me, so this version is a cover of Del Shannon covering The Stones,” Casey acknowledges.

Closing out Side A, Mark’s “Long Since Lost” commences with some simple acoustics and whistles, the minimalist approach setting a fabulous tone. The gradual inclusion of mandolin (Mark) and both pedal steel and mellotron (Casey) makes for a perfect combination. Flipping the bright orange vinyl, Side B quickly fills the air with some dark overtones, care of “C’mon Let’s Go,” the trio returning to their roots and with some potent vocals on display from Sasso. “Let’s go hang out for a while / Watch the heat pass us by / Let’s hang low where they try to save them souls / You know the place where no one ever goes / C’mon darling let’s go to town / Steal some souls and then roll around / Leave this town buried in our dust / Oh you know it’s time for moving on.”

Produced by Elliott BROOD, engineered/mixed by Stephen at The Office in Hamilton, ON, and mastered by Ron Skinner (Dan Mangan, Amelia Curran) at Heading North Mastering, “Country” and “Town” are finally united out in the wilds… Go grab them both – we insist (you can’t have one without the other) – and play them tonight. Play them all weekend. Play them LOUD.  Celebrating their twentieth anniversary (since their debut release), Elliott BROOD is hotfooting it across Europe right now and sharing many of these new tunes, with plans for some more North American dates later this year. I don’t need to remind you what to do, right???

Photo Credit: Dustin Seabrook / Artist Website

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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