Music Mondays - The Barmitzvah Brothers

I really wish my first music post of 2011 would be about some new, cutting-edge band.  But were I to do that, I'd be lying - the bands I've been listening to lately are not brand new musicians, bright eyed and bushy-tailed.  Nope.  The bands I've been listening to have all been around for awhile, and released multiple albums.

And so it is that I mention the Barmitzvah Brothers.  Describing themselves as "Alt Pop", their sound is one that is based upon multiple instruments and simple vocal schemes that are surprisingly witty and layered.  Personally, I'd describe it as "old timey radio songs meets sixties-style folk, all tied together by a ukelele".

The band, which - despite the name - is neither jewish nor brothers (or even predominantly male), makes a point of having every musician play multiple instruments depending on the song.  And they do it with a sense of humour while not being one of those dreaded "comedy acts".

Their last album, released in 2007, is pretty much on constant repeat on my ipod right now.  And it's really no surprise why - it goes from funny and self-referential jokes right into deep, thoughtful lyrics that shy away from being morose or "broody".  The album, "Let's express our motives:  An Album of Under-Appreciated Job Songs" is dedicated to all those jobs that don't get the praise.

Which brings my main point of contention.  Sure, it has songs dedicated to those who work at animal rendering plants, janitors, rodeo clowns... but it doesn't cover the most under-appreciated job of all time... the blogger

I really am just a tad offended.  Who cares if a guy at a rendering plant has stinky fingers?  Do you people realize just how much diet coke and hickory sticks I burn through every week to bring you blogging gold?  When in the hell do I get my song?

But I'll forgive them, if only because the album is just so awesome. 

It's just amazing just how fast it can go from quirky, upbeat songs such as "Sign Erector" to hauntingly dark songs like "Salvage Diver", a simple vocal/ukelele combination that just happens to have some of the greatest lyrics I've heard in a long time ("All those things the water kept/burned an image that I can't forget/going down to look for bodies").  I'm not much of a lyrics person when it comes to music (which might explain my love of Led Zeppelin), but with this band, I'm really paying attention to just what's being said. 

You see, the primary singer, Jenny Mitchell, sings with such conviction.  Every song is about an occupation - and with each song, I'm convinced she's singing about a job she's personally held.  I am sure, in fact, that she has worked as a Library Page, a Denture Technician, a Show Promoter, a Thrift Store Owner, a Bookbinder, a Piano Tuner, and...

..well, you get the point.  But there is one song that she's held that I'm sure is 100% accurate - she has been a member of The Barmitzvah Brothers.  And yes, they included their own jobs as musicians in an album about under-appreciated jobs.  Remember what I said about funny, self-referential lyrics?

Bad news?  They haven't released an album in three years.   Their main website is a dead link.  And they all have "side projects".  On the plus side, they just did a "reunion tour" last month, so there's still hope yet.  I'd love to catch these guys live - they sound like they'd be a lot of fun.

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