BY EVENTSEEKER STAFF
Having recently confronted the reality that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the local music scene here in San Francisco, I decided to make it a priority to really immerse myself into the rich pool of artists available here in the Bay Area. On this quest to familiarize myself with this city’s underground music landscape, a friend recommended I check out a band called Brother Pacific. I hadn’t heard of or listened to Brother Pacific before, but the five-piece outfit collected me as its newest fan at its October 25 EP release show at El Rio with its genuine, folk-colored rock and roll.
The band’s 2012 EP Give it to Me, is a five-track effort that opens with “Morning Sun.” Somewhat of a call to arms, or perhaps just a call for brighter days, the song offers a familiar but turbulent narrative on top of atmospheric instrumentation. With Henry Baker’s warm but haunting keyboard organ ushering in the opening lines, the song breaks down into confessions of finding trouble in the night. As the guitar, drums and bass kick in and begin constructing a wall of sound, it’s still the lyrics and vocalist Steve Franks’ intimate drawl that make the track so infectious and powerful for, and not in spite of, its admissions of defeat.
As the EP transitions to its title track “Give it to Me,” it reads like the soundtrack to a spaghetti western. With an intro of commanding drum beats and playful rim taps accompanied by a pure Americana guitar riff, the tune seems suitable for the opening credits of a Tarantino movie. The spirited instrumentation parallels the eagerness of the lyrics, which proclaim in an almost athemic fashion: “This life’s got soul/ give it to me/ I need to know/ where to be and what to see.” This mentality, a curiosity for life and excitement for what’s happening here and now, is so inherently human, and Brother Pacific employs it effortlessly and sincerely. The bands tops it off with a musical interlude that lasts for over a minute as it weaves through a keyboard solo, into a guitar solo until all instruments, including an unexpected but welcome trumpet, join the inflated soundscape.
“Give it to Me” is the stand-out track on the EP, but the songs that follow all gracefully flirt with the lines between folk and rock. “Blue from Grey” features Brother Pacific’s solid indie rock sensibility with less raw and perhaps more reverbed vocals on top of catchy riffs and a sugary sweet keyboard interlude. Steve’s vocals turn pensive on “Harvest Day” as he references San Francisco’s signature fog and reminisces changing times. With flashes of understated afrobeat-flavored drums, uplifting riffs, tight harmonies and a warm bassline by Zane Ramirez, the song is relatively more restrained than the first few tracks of Give it To Me. That is, until it closes out with a firestorm of drums and keys that lends the EP one of its most buoyant moments, right at the end of one of its most aching songs.
The closing song “Believer Blues,” saunters in with a lonely blues riff, fluttering keys and ringing organ notes for an ominous minute and a half of music. The tension eventually breaks as the weight of the song is lifted by tambourine jingles and drummer Louie Rappoport’s snappy snare beats. With witty, biting lyrics about starting a fist fight in heaven with “the whole rat pack,” a reference to the Holy Trinity, the song reflects upon burnt-out faith, unanswered prayers and a universal concern for the fate of our souls. Recapturing much of the enthusiasm found in the EP’s opening track, Brother Pacific leaves listeners with charming, jangly folk guitar and a feeling of solidarity for being human, having doubts and making mistakes.
Brother Pacific captured a bright sound on Give it to Me that seamlessly floats through a wide emotional spectrum without losing its initial charm. Whether it’s with a reference to the moon, a somber croon, a single humming instrument, the recurring mention of the devil’s name or lead guitarist Jason Meyers’ razor sharp but poignant chops, the band takes listeners from high to low points and back up again with an ultimate, overwhelming sentiments of hope. Brother Pacific will definitely be traveling the SF club circuit in support of its new record, so keep an eye on the band’s eventseeker profile page for upcoming show dates.