Small Brown Bike - Fell & Found (Cover Artwork)

Small Brown Bike

Fell & Found (2011)

No Idea

No Idea Records! Hot Water Music kicks some ass and inspires its label to sign a bunch of like-minded, scruffy kids to progress the sound. In 1999 I couldn't give a crap and ignored the label, (while loving HWM). Then a pal introduced me to Small Brown Bike. Loved 1999's Our Own Wars and played the shit out of it; liked a few songs from 2001's Dead Reckoning, and couldn't stand 2003's The River Bed. I forgot about the band for years, and was reintroduced to No Idea Records recently because I really dig Gatorface, Paul Baribeau, Latterman and North Lincoln (who surprisingly flew beneath my radar back then). Thats how I found out that not only was Small Brown Bike back, but had a few 7"s entitled Composite, Volumes One and Two. I loved both of them, and when I got the chance to stream the new record I was pretty jazzed. I've been listening to the record religously for the past few days, and it's hard for me to write about. This would only be my third review for this website, and I don't wish to develop a reputation for writing only about the albums I approve of. It's a testament to my own integrity not to break the tradition with this record.

Holy shit! It's been eight years, and they sound like they've been geeking out and developing their sound the whole time! They take everything they did right on Our Own Wars, learn from the mistakes they on The River Bed, build on the momentum they cultivate with Composite and blow it all up in our faces with this full-length. Every new record I have liked in the past few months will be neglected puppies whining at my door, lost in the shadow of this gem of a record. Driving force; melodic maturity; lyrical inventiveness; heartfelt ballads that manage to sound sincere–it's all here. After noting this, I picked up my guitar to join in and they made me work to do it efficiently. In punk rock, that isn't required, yet in this case it adds a point to my total nevertheless.

After taking their old sound and jacking it up a few notches during the opening three songs, I shuddered at the opening of the fourth track, "In Need of Everything". "Not again!" I thought, as the pace began to slack and the mood went autumn in a springtime themed album. Thankfully, this feeling didn't last. The song doesn't sprawl in the way their old attempts at slowing down the pace used to, and I like the song a lot. It works within the context of the playlist and makes a nice lead-in for "As We Go", which builds in a frenetic combination of eerily catchy melodies and familiar Small Brown Bike driving choruses.

Dan Jaquint, one of my favorite drummers of his respective genre, is at the top of his game here. Somewhere near the beginning of "As We Go" he seems to put the album on his shoulders and carry it the rest of the way up the mountain. Consequently, there are no stinkers or filler in the latter half of the record, which includes some of the album's more thoughtful moments. Poignantly, "We're living on repeat, living life but not living free" kicks off a quiet and anti-climactic chorus in "On Repeat", the album's first video. This is followed by three very different songs that seem to document the three stages the band has gone through musically, in chronological order. "All of Us", the third of this trio, feels like it is pointing us in the direction they are headed in from here, a warm sound almost reminiscent of modern urban folk (think recent Hayden). Again, this is where Dan Jaquint makes the difference, rolling away in the background, reminding you that no matter how mature this band gets they will probably always be a moment away from blowing up your stereo, jumping up and down in your bedroom and leaving dirty, muddy, dead grass-filled footprints all over your new carpet.

The springtime concept for the album is fitting, as a long winter for the band has ended while they move forward into what promises to be the most fruitful period of the band's timeline. I can't wait for more from these guys.