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Von Hertzen Brothers - Love Remains the Same CD (album) cover

LOVE REMAINS THE SAME

Von Hertzen Brothers

 

Crossover Prog

4.14 | 173 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars Though steeped in some classic rock themes and sounds, the Von Hertzen Brothers have melded a collection of heavily layered and complex yet highly melodic songs in an album which feel fresh, original and which has an amazingly consistent quality. I consider this album a modern masterpiece.

It has taken me a long time to get to know this album because of the myriad layers and intricacies of each song--but it has been a 'labor' of love doing so. The numerous catchy hooks, fine production and truly clever and creative songwriting and performance will keep you coming back to this album--for years.

If there is an artist I would compare this album to it'd be DEVIN TOWNSEND. If you took away the constant tongue-in-cheek lyrics and story telling and the overwhelmingly loud, sound-crushing 'metal' quality to Devin's songs, you'd have the sophisticated music and melodic mastery of the Von Hertzen Brothers.

1. Bring Out the Sun (So Alive) (9/10) is a nearly-instrumental (there is the song's title being sung as a chorus for the last third of the song) which opens sounding like some Green Linnet artists playing "Scarborough Faire." A slow folk melody is gradually, slowly, joined by a building wall of support instruments--like one of MIKE OLDFIELD's epic insturmentals--setting up the first appearance of the gorgeously harmonized chorus ("Bring out the sun, to shine on everybody...). At 4:55 vocals disappear and the song switches to a kind of Jethro Tull/Strawbs feel (acoustic guitar strumming) faster and faster with a synth floating chaotically over top until, finally, the full rock band joins in to help support the chorus' melody line. Around 6:45 the vocals rejoin and then there is a brief rockin' part that helps the song transition into a WHO-like vocal section at 8:00. The final minute returns to the choral with big sounds all around. What a ride!

2. Spanish 411 (9/10) opens with a kind of ethereal 'Egyptian rock' feel to it until the vocal enters at the 0:45 mark. The vocal somehow reminds me of Tim Smith, Elvis Costello, and Ken Hensley all wrapped up into one. At 3:00 enters a Spanish-sounding trumpet; 3:45 guitar and synth melodies play off one another (very cool section!) At 4:30 chorus leads into a very NEKTAR-like section. 5:35 back to tight vocal section.

3. Freedom Fighter (8/10) starts with several layers of attention-grabbing activity. This song has much more of a straight-forward rock feel to it BUT it is so heavily layered--there is so much going on, so many subtleties! Again, some very strong NEKTAR similarities.

4. Somewhere in the Middle (9/10) opens with again layers of multiple sonic "hooks"--melodies which then all fade away to be replaced by a synth 'silence' la Richard Wright/Pink Floyd. Guitar plays a bluesy soloover many layers of soft subtleties for over a minute before a delicate vocal over piano takes over at 2:20. By 3:00 the song has become a 'stadium rocker' in the vien of STYX, TOTO, REO SPEEDWAGON. Very catchy melodies. At 5:22 twin guitars battle it out la THIN LIZZY. 5:50 introduces a killer melody line on piano with vocals and guitar activities embellishing awesomely! Great tune!

5. In the End (8/10) opens with a spacey SOUIXIE & THE BANSHEES feel before straightforward vocal with piano rock support takes over. SQUEEZE & 10CC come to mind here. "In the end..." chorus arrives and is much more rocking--and is followed by "Free Bird" guitars. At 2:42 it switches to Hendrix guitars and vocal harmonies again like 10CC or Godley & Creme. Such an odd song! It never seems to be sure where it's going and contains nods to so many classic songs and artists. Not my favorite song here, but an amazingly constructed hodge-podge that works! 5:40 sees a devolution to almost classical piano sonata! which then turns out to be the intro to:

6. Faded Photographs (7/10) is a very straight forward rocker in the vein of URIAH HEEP.

7. Silver Lover (8/10) has a bit of a 'South of the Border'/Mexican/XTC feel to it. The vocal arrives at 0:38 with a familiarity reminiscent of THE MARS VOLTA, THE MOODY BLUES, ERIC CLAPTON, GEORGE HARRISON, and ANDY PARTRIDGE/XTC! In the end it is the XTC feel that wins out over the The Mars Volta. 8. I Came for You (9/10) has quite a bit of a DEVIN TOWNSEND fell to it. Happily, it never really mounts the deafening mind-numbing walls of sound that Devin does (and which I so dislike in his music); the Von Hertzen Brothers restrain themselves admirably. At 3:15 begins a very pretty piano and vocal section--again, very Devin-like (using an incredibly familiar Devin-like melody). Support instruments begin joining in and building momentum as it repeats--almost church-/worship-like. This is the best Devin Townsend song that Devin could never do! (Unless he were nearly unplugged).

9. The Willing Victim (9/10) starts with a Middle Eastern sound. A second guitar joins at 1:00 and then violin at 1:37. A very delicate, beautiful vocal starts at 2:05. As it develops I am transported to ANATHEMA's We're Here Because We're Here album (even though Love Remains the Same came out a couple years before WHBWH) with some sensitive, plaintive vocals and familiar melodies. The shift at 3:05 deepens that Anathema feel. 4:05 enters a synth "horn" solo la Pink Floyd and Genesis. 6:10 shifts into Devin Townsend territory--more power and with very Devin-ish melody--like the previous song. It builds to a very theatric climax--with guitars soloing--from 7:05 through 7:50. Incredible! The Von Hertzen Brothers' "Comfortably Numb"!

Again, this is an album of incredibly well-crafted, multiply-layered, quirky, melodic songs. There are very few songwriters crafting together songs of this calibur--now or ever.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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