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CD REVIEW

Chris Robinson Brotherhood: Phosphorescent Harvest

by Richard B. Simon on April 29, 2014

While Big Moon Ritual and The Magic Door were cut from the same sessions early in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s development, Phosphorescent Harvest has a lush openness and a wealth of carefully placed sounds that a yearlong recording process allows. The CRB’s twin inflections, of psych weirdness and laid-back cowboy rock, get further apart here—the strange gets more ethereal and more precisely mind-bending and the guitars even earthier. The songs, largely co-written by Chris Robinson and Neal Casal, breathe in the juxtaposition. The album is dark and strange and pretty, a collection of love songs. There’s a lot to listen to: complex song structures, recurrent images, hints of a cycle, a system of metaphor being laid out. We hear acoustic strumming, Spanish picking and pedal steel swells, but also urban tones and shout-outs to New York City. Among the most satisfying moments are when the songs break into psych meltdown or prog instrumental. Adam MacDougall’s broad arsenal of organ, electric piano and synth tones is often foregrounded. It’s rock music turned inside out, as the synchronized riffs provide rhythmic context for the synthesized phantasmagoria, which sets the subtle roar of the guitar leads. Robinson’s voice has grown mature, and easy. This band is maturing, too. They’re finding their true sound in the process.

Authors: Richard B. Simon
Artist: Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Album: Phosphorescent Harvest
Label: Silver Arrow

Comments

Great album and a great band. However, technically, this is the band’s fifth album. The exact same members released two albums understand the name Chris Robinson and the New Earth Mud. Great progression from album to album. Better band than the Black Crowes, in my opinion. By leaps and bounds. Excellent live show too.

By Chip - 04/29/14

Paul Stacey was in New Earth Mud. And no this band, though wonderful, is not in any stretch of the imagination, leaps and bounds better than the Black Crowes.
Another great CRB album and I can’t wait to see them again, great live show

By rockin dog - 04/29/14

Very different personnel and vibe than Mud and not even on the same vegetable stand as the Crowes.

Chris Robinson’s solo record was entitled “New Earth Mud” and featured extensive production from Paul Stacey. His touring band was dubbed “The New Earth Mud” and his second release was under the moniker “Chris Robinson and The New Earth Mud” with that release dubbed “This Magnificent Distance.” The initial touring band consisted of the Stacey Bros., George Reiff and George Laks, and later shifted personnel to include Audley Freed, Rob Barraco and Steve DiStanislao.

CRB, in my opinion, has shown flashes of brilliance in each of their three official releases—and Betty’s Blends was quite tastey—however wading through the minutia each album presents can be quite challenging. I struggle mightily with Adam whose sole objective in the band seems to be playing out-of-key, out-of-phase alien blips. If that was what they after they have succeeded. I agree this record by far has been their most “realized,” but loose ends abound.

By Travis - 04/30/14

Another superb album by these craftsmen.  It is not often when a group of individuals come together to combine one, complete unit; the true meaning of “team” shines through on everything they create. Every member knows their roll front to back, always serving the music and never their own ego.  I’m actually getting tired of everyone comparing the CRB to the Crowes in one way or another.  This is an entirely different animal and concept as a whole, which is great. Love the Crowes as much as the next Crowes fan, but I love the direction Chris is able travel with this band. His enthusiasm is literally oozing from his pores which rubs off on the rest of this band. I’m thinking (and hoping) this is so much more than a side project for this band based on the cannon of work they have created over the past couple of years. Would love to be discussing another new album in 10 yrs from now!  Stay weird!

By Albert - 05/08/14

Live is where it’s at for these guys anyway.  One of the few bands out there right now that I would “follow” on the road for a bit.

By Doug S. - 05/09/14

Great record, perhaps Chris’s best non-Crowe album, as far as NEM, ...Distance, BMR, Magic Door and now this. Highlights for me are “Badlands, Here We Come,” with its ominous energy, the melancholy yet hopeful “Wanderer’s Lament,” and most of all, “Burn Slow,” just an amazing song that I do put up there with classic Crowe dirges such as “Bad Luck, Blue Eyes…,” “Ballad In Urgency” and “Girl From A Pawnshop.”

By Slappy McGee - 07/10/14

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