The McCloskey Brothers Band,
The McCloskey Brothers Band
(Sunny on Top, 2002)

When the last batch of CDs I requested to review arrived in my mail, I checked to see if the disc I wanted to hear more than any of the others was included in the package. I smiled when I saw The McCloskey Brothers Band because I longed for a good new country rock band and I wanted this recently released eponymous first effort to quench my thirst. Aural visions of a new Poco or latter-day Byrds swirled around in my head. It has been more than 20 years since this sub-genre was at the forefront of popular music and I miss it. But alas, my dreams were not fulfilled. Unfortunately, The McCloskey Brothers Band is a complete disappointment.

The group receives good press in its native Aspen and its neighboring trendy Rocky Mountain ski resorts. Maybe the McCloskey's positive reviews are a product of the ever-present late '60s Colorado hippie culture that remains alive in many areas of the state. Today that image, which still plays well in Aspen, Vail, and Telluride, comes across to everyone else as an anachronism in the new millennium. The lyrics are full of drippy hippie sentiments. In "Hurricane," the brothers sing, "Set the eagle in me free, so high will I be." "Dream" closes with the overly sweet, "You're a snowflake in the summer, a flower in the fall, when I think of you you're always true, so gentle, so fine." Even the liner notes are too much to take: "As a band, we celebrate the present in its infinite glory, and exercise our soul's mighty ability to Love, Love, Love."

Neither brother has a particularly strong singing voice. I know that good vocals are not a prerequisite in much of rock music and in some areas of country music, and weak vocals can be overcome if the music has something else to offer. Because the songs all sound the same, are lyrically bankrupt, and due to poor mixing the only instrument we notice on every track is the lead banjo or mandolin, the less-than-adequate vocals are noticed more than they need to be. The muddy, dead-sounding production of the disc does not help matters either.

Sadly, the McCloskey Brothers need to work on every aspect of their game before being called up to the big leagues for another at bat.

[ by Charlie Ricci ]
Rambles: 4 May 2002