Monday, May 26, 2014

Brian McGee "Ruin Creek"

Brian McGee
"Ruin Creek"
Square of Opposition
Released: May 2014

Brian McGee's third solo LP (you know, solo, as in not with Plow United), was recorded expertly by Bouncing Souls’ Pete Steinkopf. I won't claim to be an expert at alternative folk. Sure, I love old country (Johnny Cash, George Jones etc...) and loved the movie Big Easy Express (Mumford and Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros), but beyond that, I know Brian McGee. 

"Ruin Creek" is mostly Brian and his guitar, the strength of the songwriting compliments the authentic, naked and pure execution on the songs. I am sure Brian wasn't naked in the studio, but the music is stripped down to the honest core and "naked" is the most appropriate word. Brian is baring his soul.

Brian's friend Mary Ellen Davis from Asheville NC, returns with some guest accompaniment vocals. Mary's vocals add a dimension to "It's Alright" and "Hand in Hand" that strengthens the impact beyond what the songs would have been without. The songs still would have been great without, but this is an example of McGee knowing when to add and when to remain true to the minimalist man and his guitar theme. 

300 marble grey vinyl 
100 black vinyl 
100 coke bottle clear vinyl

"A Little Space" is an example of Brian's storytelling ability. Adding some effected electricity to the guitar, the simplicity remains true, but adds support to the aggressive build up. A great song.

"Born in the Morning" is as close as Brian gets to providing a Plow United track. The man and his distorted guitar rips through a track that begs for Sean and Joel to jump in...

"Are You Gonna Wait for Someone To Die?" is about as stark as you are going to get. It is a bold thing to commit to a vocal only track. About as naked as you are going to get in recording. It works. It works well.

"Final Vow" is a emotionally triumphant song that sounds like it should be on a soundtrack to a movie. "Ruin Creek" is a prodigious album, start to finish.

Frank FOE

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