Help Us Keep Reporting. Donate to Detroit Metro Times.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Deadstring Brothers

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

It takes exactly 16 seconds to realize there’s something desperate about the Deadstring Brothers. There are 15 seconds of a simple drumbeat and then — out of nowhere — a bomb drops. Fistfuls of piano, guitars and bass crash across the downbeat in ragged unison. A moment later, when the band abruptly halts and Kurt Marschke revives the most staid of all opening one-liners (“I woke up this mornin’ …”) with breathless urgency, the Brothers give the chilling impression that every note might well be their last, that at any second the car could veer off the edge of the road and explode on the rocks below.

It’s that kind of nervy tension that the carries the Detroit quintet through every track of their eponymous debut. The band’s unapologetic and creative approach (perhaps most evident in the dialogue between Aric Karpinski’s vigorous piano playing and Pete Ballad’s loping pedal steel) is earnest enough to transform a handful of potentially dull, mid-tempo alt-country numbers into impassioned manifestos. At center throughout are Marschke’s narratives filled with the ominous tirades of scorned lovers: “You may not yet know who I am,” he warns in “Entitled” before threatening that that the price of coveting thy neighbor’s wife is now “a knife in the neck.”

But, to the Brothers credit, they don’t simply dish out alpha-male Americana. Their quieter moments (especially “It Takes Love” and the deft reharmonization of folk standard “Long Black Veil”) are every bit as convincing as their fight songs. Aside from a lull toward the back of the album (marked by the regrettable jam-band vibe of “Jones Street” and the slightly overzealous ballad, “Such a Crime”), one would be hard pressed to find a single disingenuous strain here.

This clarity of the record’s unbridled expression is a testament to the band’s collective vision, which puts the muscle behind Marschke’s weighty songwriting. In other words, The Deadstring Brothers is one of the most compelling Detroit efforts in some time. But the beauty of the Brothers lies in their capacity for uncomfortable truths, and their ability to state them as if their very lives depended on it. A lesser band would have played it safe.

E-mail Nate Cavalieri at letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Nate Cavalieri

Read the Digital Print Issue

May 27, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation