Ashland’s familial, folk-rocking duo The Brothers Reed — that’s Aaron and Philip — have been regular visitors to Bend since they began jamming together in 2014. They haven’t missed a Bend Roots Revival since 2015, and most recently played last year’s Bend Fall Festival. Last weekend, the duo dropped its third album and second to feature an extended lineup (with drummer Matthew Kriemelman and bassist T.J. Eilers).
The appropriately named “Three” takes many of its cues from classic Americana artists such as Tom Petty and Neil Young — album opener “Hey Old Man” quotes the latter while building up a head of steam not unlike the former’s Heartbreakers.
The next track, “Right By My Side,” goes further into Petty territory with its bass-drums-harmonica intro and world-weary harmonies.
But as the album progresses, the brothers’ idiosyncrasies shine through — galloping rhythms (and attitude) that are more punk than honky-tonk on “Waiting Around to Die”; the actual honky-tonk of Merle Haggard tribute “Hoedown in Heaven”; the fuzz bass on the otherwise straightforward (at least musically speaking) “Place Out There.” Aaron and Philip strike a balance between heartfelt imagery on ballads such as “Ancient Ghosts” and gentle humor on the aforementioned “Place Out There,” a take-down of religious hypocrites.
Best of all is “Caroline,” an emotional steamroller powered by Philip’s piano and the brothers’ ubiquitous harmonies. It’s the album’s finest example of the duo’s penchant for musical left-turns that fall just slightly outside what the ear expects — a strength that serves them well in an overcrowded roots-music market.
The duo is currently touring behind the album, and should be back in Bend in the spring. Stay tuned.
— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin