There’s a narrative at work in The Brought Low’s best songs, chronicling existence in the inner-cities outer boroughs and the pratfalls of hard work, hard liquor and hard time. The essence of these stories mirror the band’s own: the past couple years has been a repetition of arrivals and departures: family dying and being born, band members entering in and then walking out. There was a local new wave revival whose aesthetic they couldn’t have less to do with, a cycle of touring, working, and touring again, a decrepit practice space that’s become a decrepit second home. On the other side of the tunnel they’ve come out stronger, more resolute in their conviction, and wired for maximum impact.
Singer/ guitarist/ songwriter Benjamin Howard Smith and drummer Nick Heller have been the nucleus of The Brought Low
since the rolling thunder of their NYC debut in 1999. The band’s universally-lauded self-titled debut album on Tee Pee Records earned them a loyal audience, and the howling overdrive of their impassioned live shows have become the stuff of city folklore. 2003 saw the addition of bassist R o b e rt Russell as well as second guitarist Kevin Eleven, who left the band shortly after recording concluded, returning them to their original power trio format. Following the release of Right On Tim e, The Brought Low band has planned a series of guerilla tours throughout the country that will carry them well into 2007.
Reviews for Right On Time...
There may not be a better currently active rock & roll band in the country than The Brought Low. The album's called Right on Time after a song that didn't make the album and partially, I assume, as a joking reference to the five-year gap between their debut release and this one. The solution, if this album is any indication, to the so-called sophomore jinx seems to be taking your sweet fucking time on the second album, too. As much as I loved the debut and waited anxiously for a second album, I can't argue with success, especially one on the scale of Right on Time.
This is a legitimately great album, and the reason for its greatness is as timeless as the songs themselves. Great songs are the most important part of any great album, and it's difficult for me to find fault with any these ten tracks. Opener "A Better Life" builds nicely from a spare, acoustic-driven intro into a full-blown rocker that'll have you checking the release date more than once, all with a hook that'll piledrive itself into your consciousness and haunt you. And then there's "Vernon Jackson," which I can honestly and without hyperbole say is among the best songs ever written. I've been listening to this song for a couple of years now, since it appeared on a disc of demos the band kindly shared with me, and although I've played it somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 times, its charms have yet to dull in the slightest. The lyrics, a simple and succinct tale of love between man and subway, are expertly drawn in the tradition of the finest Chuck Berry song, and the tune itself, which manages the neat trick of drawing classic heavyweights such as the Stones without sounding like them, is as timeless as the Les Paul playing the riff.
When discussing musical influences, the Mick Taylor era of the Rolling Stones is probably gonna dominate your conversation. Everything about the Brought Low, from the tunes themselves to the guitar tones, the production, even the sleeve art, screams "classic rock." This term is normally the kiss of death for any band wishing to sell records, attract an audience, or otherwise be taken seriously. The Brought Low may sound like a classic rock band, but there's a difference between merely sounding classic and being classic, and that difference comes from the songs. After all, the dictionary definition of the word "classic" includes phrases such as "belonging to the highest rank or class" and "having lasting significance." It's this, the true definition of "classic," that I reference when I call the Brought Low a classic rock band. These are some of the finest songs you'll ever hear, played as well as songs can possibly be played, and they're presented in such a fashion that they're likely to sound as out of time, as free from the concerns of any age, 20 years from now and they would've sounded 20 years ago.
Brian VarneyJuly 7th, 2007www.lollipop.com
THE BROUGHT LOW ľ not entirely new and unfamiliar ľ theyĺve been in existence since more than seven years and have toured and toured, including the usual changes in the line-up. Still I guess that they are a blank page to most of my readers, although their self-titled debut album on Tee Pee Records, which has been released in 1999, earned them a lot of good reviews and more. I didnĺt rate this album too high, because THE BROUGHT LOW was just another retro hard rock band for me. Now itĺs 2006, the band signed with Small Stone Records, äRight On Timeô is their second full-length, and since Iĺve received this promo I changed my mind completely about this band. Their music is still rooted in the 70Ĺs, but itĺs much more than the next vintage flashback. THE BROUGHT LOW know about the blues, the energy of rock énĹ roll, and the heaviness of rock. äRight On Timeô is about the nicest selection of ten tunes breathing diverse influences and still standing strong and tall as a solid unit. The opener äA Better Lifeô kicks off with all the blues-laden energy from Tony McPheeĺs Groundhogs, while äThis Ainĺt No Gameô is charged with high-energy rock and äShakedownô is heavy blues-drenched hitter. This are just three examples, but you can expect much more soulful surprises here. Thatĺs class, you know, and theyĺve got a lot of it! These tunes just cry for a live performance because of the impact inherent. And nobody should call this powertrio a ästonerrockô band, because they play the kind of vintage hard rock, that existed long before someone had the stupid idea of this term. THE BROUGHT LOW, please keep the promise youĺve given with äRight On Timeô. You could be our finest!
(KK)January 13th, 2008www.cosmiclava.com
The Cutting Edge
New Yorkers The Brought Low have found their bottom-scraping blues a bit brighter with a country rock blend. Among member changes, births and deaths and several thousand miles of roadwork in-between, this dedicated four-piece move away from their stoner years and seek solace in traditional Š70Ăs hard rock the Šol fashion way. Plenty of Skynyrd/Humble Pie/Foghat fills juicy slabs like ˘Hail Mary,÷ ˘Throne÷ and ˘Vernon Jackson÷ yet, the band also include inspired elements of Neil Young, The Band, and the Allman Bros. Right On Time spins heads by kicking off with a traditional delta blues-like relic in ˘A Better Life÷ capturing a sweaty Black Keys vibe complete with vocalist B.H. SmithĂs southern drawl on the lyrics and aided by full band harmonies. ˘This AinĂt No Game÷ turns it up a notch bringing in some Black Crowes/Point Blank swagger including a smoking solo dual sure to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Track five, ˘Dear Ohio÷ strips it down to an 18-wheeler rumble and a big hook in the chorus keeping it fresh on the brain.
A pummeling rhythm section has tracks like ˘Tell Me÷ and ˘Shakedown÷ chugging along at full steam while a series of weighty riffs doll up the songs showcasing the bandĂs ability to write massive sounding anthems without losing the subtleties that also make them unique. As the record marches through its ten tracks, ˘Blues for Cubby÷ comes flying out of the speakers near the end with howling guitars and a churning bass line - perfect for fans of high-octane rock at full-speed ahead. ˘ThereĂs a Light÷ crowns the album with a return to traditional blues/gospel. While the organ winds up the intro, acoustic strumming raising the tempo that embraces B.H. SmithĂs thick baritone. During the midsection, a piano line lies in the background for texture occasionally introducing the crescendo of electric guitar and drum. Right on Time has a certain wholeness to it. The band finds a surprising design to refresh a retro sound, but with time-honored warmth.
Todd K SmithOctober 17th, 2006www.thecutting-edge.net
Euphoric Aerosmith / Humble Pie-worshippers come good.
Small Stone Records have an unerring talent of unearthing firebrand rock bands with a protean ability to blow ones socks off with all the robust force of a typhoon and recent signings 'The Brought Low' are no exception. These sticky fingered New Yorker's crank out refried honky tonk shimmy shake with all the hard rockin' bravura of vintage Aerosmith.
The Brought Low - Right on Time Joyously "Right on Time" is far from mere Stonesian nostalgia as this album smoulders with a myriad of bluesy guitar hip shakers and if y'all fancy getting' high an' wired this weekend one could do a lot worse than cranking up the full bloodied, 'Blues for Cubby' with it's hep cat syntax and sassy Foghat grunt that translates into one big ass good time.
'Tell Me' is probably their most incandescent ode, Benjamin Howard Smith's lucid guitar lines are super-charged with enough feisty Joe Perry shuck an' frug to burn off Daisy Duke's hot pants, a deliriously infectious barroom meltdown that should inspire libidinous movement in even the most conservative of muscles.
The Brought Low are a euphoric rock n' roll rebirth somewhere betwixt the incorrigible scuzz bag blues of Johnny Thunders and the anthemic, exultant pissed up boogatron of Humble Pie. 'Right on Time' will shake more than your moneymaker, daddio! [As an addendum vocalist, Benjamin Howard Smith's delivery is extraordinarily similar to the idiosyncratic pitch of the legendary singer-songwriter, Kevin Coyne, quite startling and unexpected really].
After way too long out there in the murky mists, NY glam-boogie kings The Brought Low make a triumphant return to the trenches and with the cleverly titled ˘Right on Time÷. Clever, see, because the Brought Low so effortlessly bridge 70Ăs mud and thunder rock with contemporary riff nĂ roll that they could be from either era, really, Ă71 or Ă06. The Brought Low are ALWAYS right on time, dig? This one is heavy on the suthinĂ style sun-drenched guitars, and you can hear those things sweetly chime on soon-to-be classics like the denim dealinĂ opener ˘Better Life÷, the Stones-y road dog anthem ˘Ohio÷ and the Skynrd apocalypse closer ˘ThereĂs a Light÷. The bandĂs been pared down to a trio since this Šun was recorded, but the twin guitar melodies here are this close to majestic. Ben Howard SmithĂs vox are as bloozy and soulful as ever, and this is, quite obviously, one of the best albums of the year. If you could bottle classic hard rock and drink it down on the back porch on a sunny summer day, well, thatĂd be the Brought Low. And you can bet itĂd go down smooth, and leave you with a nice, lasting glow. Great stuff.
SleazegrinderJuly 5th, 2006www.sleazegrinder.com
All Music Guide
The Brought Low are a rough midpoint between the Black Crowes' unabashed Faces worship and the ironic retro-glam posturing of the Darkness: Right On Time is the sound of a band that's deliberately recreating a long-past time and place, but this dose of 1970s heavy rock sounds entirely sincere. The Brought Low's obvious influences include Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bachman Turner Overdrive, the James Gang and Bad Company: the album even ends with a churchy R&B-influenced rave-up called "There's A Light" powered by a Gregg Allman-style organ part. It's hard not to think of the Rutles, Neil Innes' note-perfect recreation of the Beatles' sound and spirit, or of the plethora of new bands since the turn of the millennium whose sole raison d'etre is to pay tribute to the post-punk era, but this quartet led by singer/guitarist Benjamin Howard Smith -- a fine blue-collar Rock Dude name -- are so palpably sincere on tracks like "A Better Life" and "Vernon Jackson" (a tribute to the rough and tumble section of Queens that the band calls home) that it's impossible to dismiss Right On Time as a calculated pose.
Stewart MasonJuly 6th, 2006www.allmusic.com
What makes a band great? Great songs! That's The Brought Low's philosophy, and they've delivered in a big way with 'Right on Time.' Rave reviews have been trickling out over the internet, and there have been "album of the year" calls already, with 2006 barely half over. Early listeners recognize that the band has nailed the classic/southern rock sound to the wall, as if the Rolling Stones were a new band, just seasoned enough to produce their best work in 2006, rather than 1968-72. Along with the new release by Antler, The Brought Low has put fresh, 70s-inspired riff rock back on the map.
Now a power trio, the group was a quartet when the album was recorded, showcasing a Smith/Kramer, Betts/Allman classic dual guitar sound, combined with Ben Howard Smith's vocals, which hang out somewhere between Mick and Keith. The album starts with 'A Better Life,' with some tasty blues strumming segueing into some hard rockin,' with lyrics inspired by Ben's daughter. One of the album's future classics is 'Hail Mary,' which could be the great unreleased Keef b-side from 'Exile on Main Street,' with a little Lowell George-era Little Feat, ca. 1971-74. The Stones may loom large over 'Right on Time,' but it's not all glimmer twins and Watt: check out the James Gang swagger of 'Tell Me.' 'Vernon Jackson,' a paean to New York's subways, may remind you of the New York Doll's 'Subway Train' minus the glitter, combined with The Stones' 'Sticky Fingers.' Other classic influences to be found here include The Black Crows, Zeppelin and Mountain.
But this is far from a period piece. You could just as easily compare this classic riff metal to relative newcomers like 5 Horse Johnson, Puny Human, Bad Wizard, or the aforementioned Antler. It doesn't really matter, 'cause even at an average length of 5 minutes per, the songs are concise and filled with hooks, the riffs are basic and timeless, the beer is cold, and the dice are flaming. In other words, this disc is full of your basic great songwriting. So get it and get back to your roots: you've been "Xtreme" long enough.
Kevin McHughJune 19th, 2006www.hellridemusic.com
The Brought Low grab a blender, chunk in a bit of old school country, a bunch of southern rock, a bit of CCR and an overall personality of badass 70s manrock. Great guitar licks and percussive rhythms and a perfect south-style vocal attack make for one of the best rock CDs to hit the streets in quite a while. It's an injection of this kind of rock energy and musical style that the modern rock scene needs to lift it from its lethargy. The Brought Low are an uberimpressive addition to the rock scene.
Kristofer UpjohnJune 7th, 2006fishcomcollective.net
ItĂs been five years since New York CityĂs Brought Low released its remarkable self-titled debut, so I might argue with the name of the bandĂs just-released second record. Anyway, the band (a quartet for this recording, though itĂs since shrunk back down to a trio) eases back slightly on the cochlea-wrecking volume of the first slab and intensifies the impact of its other influences on Right On Time. ThereĂs a bit more Skynyrd, a soupcon of Stooges and a whole heck of a lot of Rolling Stones in nuggets like ˘Blues For Cubby,÷ ˘This AinĂt No Game÷ and ˘Vernon Jackson.÷ ˘Shakedown÷ is prototypical heavy blues rock, just like Mom used to make (if Mom slung an ax for Led Zeppelin), while ˘A Better Life÷ incorporates C&W without sounding like typical country rock. Leader Ben SmithĂs brittle twang proves the perfect vehicle for his soulful songwriting, and the group understands well when to tastefully support his vision and when to rock it into the dirt. You could put the Brought Low on tour with the Black Crowes or the Drive-By Truckers as easily as Raging Slab or Black Label Society and it would be equally at home. Right On Time is a classic rock & roll record.
Michael TolandMay 30th, 2006highbias.com
Leave it to the hipster bands to write about Williamsburg and the Lower East Side. The coolest song on The Brought LowĂs second full-length is ˘Vernon Jackson,÷ their paean to a grubby subway stop in a working class neck of Queens. Borrowing heavily from Exile-era Stones, Ben Smith, Nick Heller, and the rest of the Brought Low bring the real New York City to your doorstep here with a collection of raunchy riffamarama that suggests displays the rock 'n' roll balls the Strokes could have grown if theyĂd gone to public school on the subway every day instead of getting shipped off to finishing schools in Switzerland.
Jim TestaMay 17th, 2006www.jerseybeat.com
Ok, a bit of a disclaimer first ű I dig The Brought Low so much, I volunteered to run their web site. So if youĂre looking for a wholly objective review, you might as well go elsewhere.
Actually, fuck that noise - Right on Time, the somewhat tongue in cheek titled follow up to their 2001 self-titled debut, is, objectively speaking, a fantastic album. Had I not been instantly hooked on gems like ˘What I Found,÷ ˘Goddamn God Bless÷ and ˘Kings and Queens÷ five years ago, I wouldĂve been an instant convert with Right on Time in 2006.
What this New York three-piece (their fourth member, guitarist Kevin Eleven, left shortly after Right on TimeĂs completion) offers is pure, unadulterated classic rock. Their songs bring to mind early Alice Cooper and Aerosmith, The Faces, and the Rolling Stones back when they could do no wrong. ThereĂs an easy going groove to their brand of rock, especially on tracks like ˘Hail Mary,÷ which benefits from some tasty piano boogie, ˘Throne,÷ and the Sticky Fingers-worthy ballad ˘ThereĂs a Light÷ that closes out the album. ˘Dear Ohio÷ and ˘Shakedown÷ are slower tracks, shuffling along to a boozy blues rhythm. And on the other side of the spectrum, there are the songs that just rock the fuck out ű ˘A Better Life,÷ ˘This AinĂt No Game,÷ and ˘Blues for Cubby.÷
I could write pages on ˘Blues,÷ which is the kind of barn burning ass kicker that could single handedly stop a horde of mopey goth kids dead in their tracks and make them rush out and buy Gibsons and Marshall stacks. When you get to the part with singer/guitarist Benjamin Howard Smith and Kevin Eleven lock into a harmonized guitar duel and you donĂt start moving, hand over your ears because you sure as shit arenĂt using them correctly.
Demos of the brunt of the tracks have been circulating for the past couple of years, so itĂs nice to hear the final, official versions. This absolutely righteous and essential for anyone who loves good times and rock ŠnĂ rock. Objectively speaking, of course.
John PegoraroMay 17th, 2006www.stonerrock.com