New York blues pop duo The Como Brothers Band is composed of, unsurprisingly, brothers Matt and Andrew Como. The brothers have thus far released three EPs and one full album, Baby Steps in 2013, but have been relatively inactive since with regards to recording. Their new EP, entitled Imagination, returns The Como Brothers Band to the indie pop spotlight once again with their cheery brand of blues-infused rock.
Matt and Andrew Como quickly earned the attention of well-known musicians and producers when they released their first EP, The Speed of Sound in 2012. At the time, The Como Brothers Band’s sound was clean with decent songwriting but spanned possibly too wide a range of styles. In only four songs on this first EP, the group moved from indie-tinged rock to pop that was so poppy that it almost sounded like kids music, to songs which were very heavy on blues and jazz. It sometimes seemed the brothers could not make up their minds about which genres they wanted to cover and how to blend them.
As they progressed through two more releases, the Still Waters EP and the Straight Face and Late Nights double single, The Como Brothers Band found a charming balance in their music between all the elements they previously wished to incorporate and thus caught the attention of the industry. They were featured on Billboard.com and The Hollywood Reporter, among other prevalent music publications. Because of this buzz, the brothers were able to connect with well-known producers Mike Watts and Tom Flynn for Baby Steps. Watts also played a number of instruments on this first full album and the brothers were fortunate enough to work with noted jazz drummer Dan Gluszak, trumpeter Andrew Mericle and saxophonist Pasquale T. Ianelli. The album did well on the charts and many of its songs became recognizable for their appearances on popular television shows like Keeping up With the Kardashians and MTV’s The Real World.
While on hiatus from recording, The Como Brothers Band hardly stayed quiet. They toured extensively after the release of Baby Steps, supporting the likes of The Wallflowers, David Cook, and Tyler Ward. Now after all this success, the Como brothers are ready to release their follow-up EP to Baby Steps, Imagination. For this album, the duo was fortunate enough to work with Grammy Award-winning producer Graham Marsh, another Grammy winner, John Mayer Band drummer, Steve Jordan and yet another John Mayer Band regular, keyboardist Andy Burton. All these guest artists have worked with a number of huge musical artists such as Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, and CeeLo Green.
Perhaps because of the well-known industry pros on who worked with The Como Brothers Band on Imagination, the EP largely sounds very pop standard, and both the backing band and Matt Como sound very much like John Mayer’s musically and vocally. This is not surprising due to Jordan and Burton being on the album, but it is also not surprising that the album thus sounds a bit cookie-cutter and homogenous in relation to other blues pop on the market today. This is good for cable television soundtracks, but perhaps not great for an authentic blues rock sound.
Imagination does not release in full until August 10, though it can be pre-ordered on iTunes. The Como Brothers Band has released the first single from the album already, called Good Enough for Me, which can be streamed on SoundCloud. Also the EPs lead track, Good Enough for Me will remind some listeners of a bubble gum version of Van Morrison’s Days Like This. In fact, it is almost exactly the same guitar structure and vocal melody. With Jordan and Burton’s contributions and Matt Como’s vocals which sound extremely similar in timbre and style to John Mayer’s, some audiences might even mistake this track for a Mayer cover of the classic blues song. It is perfectly well-produced and a flawless performance from all involved, but this single seems to lack the originality and the authentic blues gravitas of Baby Steps and The Como Brothers Band’s other 2013 releases.
There is an understated blues feeling to the rest of Imagination, but like Good Enough for Me, it is definitely more on the pop end of the spectrum. It is also interesting to note that on some tracks, the lyrics do not match the chipper tone of the music. Tell You I’m Fine could be an emotive, touching song, but the music is so bubblegum that it is doubtful anyone would notice the point of the lyrics. If this clash is meant to connote irony, this track fails because the contrast is just too stark. Chemicals is another song where musical and lyrical tone do not match. The lyrics are clearly meant to be sexy, but the music is so upbeat and pop that most listeners will not recognize this. Chemicals thus makes The Como Brothers Band sound more like the Jonas Brothers Band. Other songs on the album do the same job of creating bubblegum-style pop with little recognizable substance
In the beginning, The Como Brothers Band seemed to be a promising duo who maybe needed to consolidate their style. Now it seems their pendulum has swung too far the other way. Imagination, while impeccably preformed and produced has indeed created a signature style for the group but in the process made them sound like every other bubblegum pop group on the scene since 2000. Their distinctive blues and indie edge blended into a more monotonous pop formula and it is unfortunate that those elements were lost on this EP. If this is the direction Matt and Andrew want to take with their talent, they will most definitely do well on the pop charts but it would be nice to someday see their more unique talents come back into focus on future releases.
Review by Layla Klamt
Bandcamp.com: The Como Brothers Band
SoundCloud.com: The Como Brothers Band – Good Enough for Me
All images provided courtesy of The Como Brothers Band’s media kit.