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Bro Dylan: Crisis Review

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By Ché Salgado
Music Journalist

Artist: Bro Dylan
Album: Crisis
Released: May 9, 2016
Label: Self-released
Website: www.brodylan.com

bro dylan
Photo courtesy of Bro Dylan

Cheekily naming your band after Bob Dylan is a move that can go in all sorts of directions. It could be clever, like a trap outfit naming themselves “Mob Dylan” and subverting all classic rock connotations. It could be saccharine and cloying, like the idea of a singer-songwriter going by, perhaps, “Rob Dylan”, in a mawkish tribute. It’s certainly precarious, to be naming yourself after one of the most clever, poetic and astounding artists of the 20th century; if you’re going to pull this sort of gimmick, you better be goddamned great. There are so many routes to take with this name gimmick, so it’s a little confusing at first as to how Cleveland band Bro Dylan, with all these possibilities and opportunities to get a clever Bob Dylan pun in landed on the decidedly average “Bro Dylan”. The only answer I can find is that Bro Dylan are a decidedly average band who’ve just self-released a decidedly average record: Crisis.

 

This is probably the only time in your life you’re going to hear about Bro Dylan because Bro Dylan are the sort of band that make you aware of the gap in quality there is between their level: the hometown bar band, and the level of the biggest names in indie rock. When one hears Crisis they hear banality; they’re hearing a hobby, not a passion. Bro Dylan probably only gets listened to by people that know the members of Bro Dylan and that’s a shame because there’s real talent in this band, mainly in front-man Alex Zinni who has a great voice that just hasn’t been applied to a great melody or great words (the only worthwhile lyric in the whole 37 minutes is “what does Cezanne have to do with this?” which is immediately ruined by the lyric that follows it: “but I still lean in for a French kiss”) guitar skills that are clearly above par but haven’t been put to use to play anything other than power chords, some average solo, some lame major scale riff (“Quiet”, “Prozac Solution”) or equally lame acoustic balladry (“Separate From the West”). Even more confusing than how they landed on their average name is what they expect reception to their music to be. If it’s just a hobby, that’s fine, but something about Bro Dylan, like how they’ve posted positive reviews of Crisis on their website, or the fact that they even have a website in the first place tells me that Bro Dylan have dreams and ambitions but the truth is that the music they make isn’t good enough to bring them to a position that can satisfy those ambitions. Bro Dylan and Crisis is what I’d expect to see at a local venue on a Thursday night, not a major music festival, not in some magazine or major music website. Ultimately there are acts that are doing this sort of stuff better, this year’s Thomas Cohen record Bloom Forever is the record that Crisis wants to be and the record that Bro Dylan want to make but can’t because they can’t move past the riffage and rock clichés. And unless there’s a change, in five years’ time it’s highly possible we’ll all be talking about Thomas Cohen and how he’s got an enviable slot at this year’s Lollapalooza or Glastonbury or Primavera Sound and great reviews in Rolling Stone and the NME and Pitchfork, and Bro Dylan will still be getting lukewarm reviews by an amateur reviewer who turns in the reviews which he wrote in his boxers at the very last second.

P.S. Bro Dylan, if you find this and you’re real, like really real, put this review on your website with the others.

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