When searching for "brother" on Spotify, there's a lot that comes up. But Utah's own Brother. stands out with punctuation—in their name, but also in their style. While their name is punctuated with a firm period, their approach to making music has always been more of a comma situation—they practice the "yes, and" way of doing things. Never ones to stop at any one style of music, any one idea or direction, Brother. has spent recent years building and hopping from thing to thing, a practice that's ultra-present on their groovy new album Vol. III, scheduled for release Friday, Oct. 15.
The album opens with "Oxidate," a sensual, groove-infused track where frontman Chuck Emery's vocals are buttery and high, riding a wave of sweeping guitars and glimmering synths. It's a smart choice for an opening track, locking in listeners and prepping them for all the other distinctively catchy tracks that follow. There are moments of pure rock 'n' roll bliss, and doses of traditional indie charisma, and all could be marked as some of Brother.'s best work yet.
The five-piece—made up of Emery, Elias Pratt, Scott Knutson, Erika Goodwin and Nathan Standage—label their releases as volumes (like 2016's Volume 1 and 2018's EP Volume II) for a reason: They're not interested in cohesion as much as they are simply gathering a bunch of songs with a few things in common together in a collection. That's because they're always trying new things. Since 2016, they've evolved far past their soft, folk-hued indie sound that could be a little melancholy at times, a quality which Emery attributes to "lack of knowledge."
"I didn't spend a lot of time around electric guitars and synths and whatnot, but we've learned a lot more about sounds, recording and mixing, and how to make our live shows better," he says of recent years. "Listening to different types of music, you want to incorporate the different things that you've learned. We didn't really use synths back in the day; back in 2016, if we had a synthy type of sound, it was one of our voices that we put a bunch of effects on. I've spent a lot of money over the last year just on random gear that I see on Facebook Marketplace, and I feel like I'm just constantly buying stuff because I just need new sounds and need new things to get inspired."
He adds that, at least for him, the way sound shows up on stage also plays a role in his drive to innovate. "At least for me, it wasn't just music I was listening to," he says; "it was music that I was watching. I'm a huge fan of watching live sessions and live videos, bands that I like in concert."
Seeing what instruments and tools others are using piques Emery's curiosity, and he'll often research, buy and eventually learn to play whatever he sees that inspires him. Vol. III is certainly ripe with rich and surprising sounds and effects, which really help keep the album feeling fresh through its 11 tracks.
"The weirdest part about it is that it's been so long," Emery remarks about the time since they began work on what would become Vol. III. "We had our original songs, which were 'Don't Worry,' which was out, and 'Honey' was another one that was finished, and 'Oxidate.' That was the backbone of the album, we modeled everything else after that after those songs."
But with the pandemic coming along to slow them down, there also came a positive development that pushed things back, too: They signed to a label, Handwritten Records. The label requested a few more songs to add to Vol. III, but otherwise stepped back and let the band get to writing them, also giving them the clearance to mix everything themselves, a feat achieved mostly by Emery, Pratt and Standage at Standage's studio space.
Outside of piecing the songs together in the studio, Brother. has been busy playing the songs live, just finishing a fall West Coast tour which included stops at Treefort Music Festival and an appearance at the first annual Superbloom Music Festival in Springdale. "I feel like we do it backwards," says Emery about their frequent live appearances. "Eli talks about this all the time, 'We should really spend more time with a song live before we start recording it,' and then we start playing it live and we make it better. I'm cool with it, and I think the songs still sound good, but the live show has picked up more, and there's a lot more energy."
Pratt concurs, "The songs on the album sound great, but it is fun that as we play them live, they continue to evolve and change in some ways. It might be pretty subtle to the audience, but at least for me, I get excited about the little nuanced things that come out as we perform them."
A chance to catch those nuances, and all the energy Brother. always has anyway, comes by way of their album listening party at Velour in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 14. Visit velourlive.com for tickets and more info, and follow @brother.official on Instagram to find links to presave and stream Vol. III.