The long wait is over my classic rock lovers, your new favourite album has arrived. Brass by Brass Camel is gutsy, powerful and full of wailing solos and vocal harmonies that cut through the clouds. The songs on the album surprise and delight, with classic roots showing through modern stylings of prog and jazz. They also throw some electric keys and synths in for good measure, because who wouldn’t! The sound struck me as a mix of Rush meets Aerosmith. Of course, such a miracle could never happen, that was until Brass Camel arrived.
‘First Contact’ is just that. It sits first on the album for one but it reaches out to you with a sound that is familiar and long forgotten. It's a bluesy scaling instrumental cacophony of perfection. It shifts and swells, never staying on one melodic phrase long enough for it to get stale. The timings are tight and pulsing, ferrying the melody with ease as the bass warms us up and delivers lines that rival Queen. Out of breath, as that last song knocked the air out of you, and you haven’t even heard the vocals yet.
You needn’t wait long as ‘Dinger’s in the Back’ belts, full force. The lyrics are sharp, the tone is sexy and the harmonies are to die for. Keeping up with Aerosmith this song also gives us the smooth jazzier feeling of Steely Dan. It melts in the mouth and sticks in the mind. Want jazzier? ‘I’ve Got the Fox’ is right around the bend. Flangers and pedals mix into a jazz-injected prog-rock beat, the vocals cut through the grooving bass and keep the train moving at a pace. The break is wonderfully beat-heavy and the song blasts out for a finish that Queen would envy. Brass is full of cultural amalgamations, as Brass Camel picks and chooses from decades of rock and soul to bring us a sound that is familiar, yet new and experimental. ‘Pressure Cooker’ feels like a rock anthem for any beat cop with a mullet with its wah pedal funk and screaming guitar harmonies and yes, there’s more.
We see the thematic influence in ‘King for a Day’. The song is a story and we come along for the ride. Complex instrumentals keep it interesting and the vocal frills make the hairs on your neck come to attention. Just as the goose pimples subside, wham! Queen-like solo. It is hard to quantify Brass Camel’s sound without comparing them to classical greats. Longer songs like ‘Last Flight of the Vulcan’ invoke Flash Gordon memories, just with a cooler attitude, leather jackets and aviators. Brass Camel also showcases an ear for experimental compositions, taking risks with songs like ‘Easy’. Starting slow and melancholy, it opens up into a carpet-cutting show tune and somehow slips back again. All the while keeping up the instrumental fidelity that is needed to keep up with the stellar vox. ‘Shaking in my Boots’ is the penultimate song on the album and brings us right back to the classic rock sound, slide guitar and gritty vocals with soul for days, weeks, years. They deliver a sound that makes you smile, listening to your favourite band from the 70s era, only to be reminded by the use of synth or piano drones that although Brass Camel sounds like they may be from yesterday; they are from tomorrow.
‘Only Love’ closes us out. It's the encore Brass Camel knew you would ask for. Powerful chords slow us down, only to blow us apart with an organ solo that sounds like Deep Purple fought their way onto the stage just to jam with their favourite band. The darker tones and textures are a perfect end to a world-class album.
Brass Camel shocked me from song to song, I laughed and danced and felt that 70s groove, and you should too.