The Barr Brothers

Photo by Brigitte Henry

The Barr Brothers, comprised of Brad & Andrew Barr and Sarah Pagé, move the needle forward on their third LP. The trio tried something new on this one. Heading into the studio (i.e. snowy cabin) with nary a tune. These were long days. Nights turned into dawns and days turned to dusk as the band worked in inspirations from West Africa and India. They leaned heavier on the electric guitar, a staple in rock and liberally incorporated some new inventions by Pagé – humbuckers, Kleenex-box signal-splitters, hacks to make her harp into a versatile, sub-bass-booming noisemaker.

The album opens with the stunning Defibrillation, featuring the haunting vocals of Jess Wolfe & Holly Laessig. Andrew had spent a night in the hospital tending to his mom. There he became ensnared in two separate heart monitors; beating together, separate, weaving around each other like we do every day; highlighting how hard it is to make that permanent connection.

Kompromat has a Low Anthem covering Radiohead feel to it. The tune has a nice punch as Barr takes aim at the current state of his home country, the good ol’ US of A. “I think we’re in love with your abuse,” “You got one hand on the driver’s wheel / in the other a noose.” It Came To Me is another guitar-fueled tune that really highlights those West African influences on the riffs.

For me their second LP, Sleeping Operator, didn’t deliver the same wow that their debut did. In talking to other fans, I believe I’m in the minority. Either way, Queens Of The Breakers is getting it done for me.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Barr Brothers are here



The Barr Brothers are following up on their excellent 2011 s/t debut with Sleeping Operator. The first track is delta blues mixed in a hint of Tinariwen. It has a similar vibe to the excellent, Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying, off their first album.

Sleeping Operator will be out on 10/7 on Secret City Records. In the meantime, enjoy Half Crazy below.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

The Barr Brothers are here


The Barr Brothers – S/T Debut [Album Review]

by Woody on October 14, 2011

“Hey! You harpist! Turn it down. C’mon, I’m trying to think over here.” Thankfully Brad Barr didn’t have that reaction when living next door to harpist Sarah Page or else I might have been robbed of one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.

In a scene that can only be recreated in a horrible rom-com, Brad and Andrew Barr from The Slip moved to Montreal only to be harassed incessantly by classic harpist Sarah Page, and thus The Barr Brothers were born. I have cast the movie with scruffy Mark Ruffalo as Brad, Bradley Cooper as the wise-cracking brother/drummer and Mila Kunis as Sarah the harpist/neighbor. Multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial would be played James Van der Beek (big fan of Varsity Blues and he can use the work).

Their debut fuses folk and blues featuring elements of Elvis Perkins, The Low Anthem and Iron and Wine. In the first three songs, you’ll hear Barr almost whispering vocals on these beautiful folk tunes. Then “Give The Devil His Heart Back” has a guitar lick that is reminiscent of “The Shepherd’s Dog” from the aforementioned Iron & Wine.

One of my favorite tracks is “Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying.” The Montreal-based quartet release the hand-brake and unleash a bluesy gospel number that sounds like something Ben Harper would have done before he met Laura Dern. You’ll hear scorching guitar work on this tune and even a little cowbell to make you feel alive.

If you would have approached me and told me that a couple of dudes from The Slip were putting out a folk album, I would have ignored you. If you would have told me I’d like it, I might have punched you in the face. Thankfully, none of this happened and I’m loving this album. They are going to be at Schubas on November 16th and you can visit their site for more dates.

The Bar Brothers – Beggar In The Morning