Darkened Nights and Violent Things: A Brobecks Review

So, around these parts, Dallon Weekes is known as “that guy who played bass for Panic! at the Disco during their tour dates this summer.”  But Weekes is also the frontman/sole permanent member of a band known as The Brobecks, who have been making music since 2002 and just released their newest album, Violent Things, on iTunes.

As for how one describes the music on Violent Things?  Well, normally when I write a review, I try to default to “it kind of sounds like [band a].”  I dislike doing that a lot of the time, but it’s really the easiest way for me to say “Hey, if you like [a] you will like [b].”  The problem with Violent Things is that every time I thought I had a good analogy down for the sound, it was immediately undone by the next track.  By the end, I had an entire list of “well, it kinda sounds like…” bands and that’s when it hit me that I couldn’t do that with this album because the only thing it really sounds like is The Brobecks.

Apparently, the music is sometimes referred to as “19th Century Indie Pop,” which I will agree with to a certain extent.  There’s a lot of stuff that had a very vaudville feel to it, but with added modern touches and fantastic synth and guitar lines.  Then there was some stuff that threw in more synth and felt a little more like some of the modern dance/punk/rock bands.  Then some funk vibes creep in on “The Visitation of the Ghost.”  And then there’s tracks that seem to come out of the blue, like “Love at First Sight” and “Bored.”

The only big issue I had with the album is that, because of all the different sounds, it was almost schitzophrenic at times.  While I appreciated all the different sounds, at times it seemed a little much and made it a bit difficult to get into the groove.  However, I will take that by far over an album where every track sounds the same.

Plus, the album is tied together by Weekes’ vocals and lyrics.  The vocals are emotive, there’s an honesty to them that jumps out at you.  He manages to go from bitter, post-break-up anger to sincere declaration of love without batting an eyelash.  And his lyrics, even on some of the more upbeat tracks, flirt with darker aspects.  While listening to the first track “If You Like It Or Not,” I was ready to write it off when the hook began with the lyrics “Oh my girl, oh my girl, just give me a chance,/I don’t want to explain, I just want to dance.”  And then when the follow-up line was On the graves, on the graves, of every girl,/That I knew before you, that are dead to me too,” I realized that Weekes has a talent for lyrical misdirection.

Stand out tracks, for me, included “Small Cuts,” (which sounds like something you’d hear played at an Addams Family ball) “Love at First Sight,” “Visitation of the Ghost” and “Second Boys Will Be First Choice.”  Interestingly enough (and I did not know this before I listened to the album) those are all tracks you can listen to at The Brobecks’ Myspace page.  While there were a few “take-it-or-leave-it” tracks for me, all in all there was nothing I totally disliked.  And the strength of the tracks I do like, especially the uber catchy hooks, outweighs the stuff I might skip over.

I will allow myself one comparison, if only for reference sake.  First of all, if you like the idea of Panic! meshing together the sounds of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Pretty.  Odd.  then you should listen to this.  Because that’s vaguely the sound here…only that’s also not it at all.

Because as I said in the beginning, there’s really no one to one correlation for this.  And in a day and age where you might get a great group and then 30 derivative sound-alikes, something like Violent Things is refreshing to hear.