Small Brown Bike/The Casket Lottery - split CD (Cover Artwork)

Small Brown Bike / The Casket Lottery

split CD (2002)

Second Nature


This album is definitely one for the books. People will look at it as a run-of-the-mill split, but as Ben Reed's writing in the liner notes will convey, it is more a collaboration...six songs of pure genius.

The first song on the album is entitled "Wrong Hometown" featuring Small Brown Bike providing the instrumental aspect of the song and Nate Ellis, lead singer of the Casket Lottery, on vocals. The music is very solid and structured with a major sound, but Nathan's vocals enter with an almost eerie sound to them exploding in the chorus with a dramatic bloom of melody. "Now I'm a Shadow," the Bike's original track on the album has a very driving beat from the drum and bass combination, mixed with some incendiary guitar parts between Mike Reed and Travis Dopp. This song, in my mind, would (un)fortunately be one of the only critiques I could offer in that the percussion of Bike Jeff on the set cannot replace the genius of former drummer, Jeff Gensterblum (currently of the unisex trio, Charlevoix). However, I suppose where there is death, also too there is birth and in this case the Bike definitely has a new sound behind the set mixed with the good ole' Bike we all know and love.

The 1980's may have seemed kind of dim in terms of good music, but David Bowie and Queen still managed to conjure up a great rock song in "Under Pressure," long before the days of Vanilla Ice. The two bands come together on this song and really do the original some justice. I myself and not as big a fan of covers as I once was, but this is amazing. The song covers every aspect of the original down to the "De ah De's" of Freddy Mercury. The Casket Lottery's track on the album, "Composing Myself (A Lullaby)" as well as "Boardinghouse" (TCL-instrumental;SBB-vocals) fill in the tail end of the record in a great rock sound typical of both bands. My personal favorite song, however, closes it all called "Riding with Death." This again is a collaboration between both bands, yet this time in a very slow, atmospheric track differing from anything they have done before. The vocals are very soft, completing the sound and album as a whole. Ben Reed is found on this track tickling the ivories of a hammond organ and various other instruments are added such a great twelve string guitar in the background.

All in all, if you don't purchase this album, you will be missing out completely. Two amazing bands came together over a two year period and wrote great music, that's all there is to it. This will be recognized as one of the greats for quite some time in the spectrum of indy music. So, go buy it now.