Pittsburgh Tribune Review (online) - August 19, 2008
A New Find
by Rege Behe
Every so often a CD comes over the transom that is breathtaking, engaging and totally unexpected. Right now, I'm listening to Brewer's Row, a band I'd never heard of until last week when I got an e-mail about an upcoming CD release party. Messages like this fill my in-box, and some of music, to be charitable, is of dubious quality.
But "The Jaw for the Job, The Heart for the Sin ... " is one of the better albums I've come across this year. And yes, this quintet is from Pittsburgh, hailing from the North Side, the South Side, and Gibsonia.
I don't know much about Jarrett Sallows (drums), Travis Houck (bass), Nicholas Hohman (vocals, guitar, trombone, accordion), Leah Hohman-Esser (vocals, piano) and Mark Hohman (vocals, guitar). Mark Hohman is the father of Leah and Nicholas, and the name of the band comes from a practice space near Pittsburgh Brewery. I'm not sure if they meant the Penn Brewery, or Pittsburgh Brewing, but it doesn't matter. The songs are so mesmerizing, I don't want to break the spell by getting bogged down about who did what where.
I hear strains of early Springsteen, Tom Waits, Joe Henry, the Willard Grant Conspiracy, The Band and 16 Horsepower in the mix, but what's impressive is how Brewer's Row takes those influences and adds its own imprint. Right now, I'm impressed most by the songs "Stone Wall" and "Underdog," but you can pick any track on the CD and not be disappointed.
How to file "The Jaw for the Job ... "? Americana? Roots? Again, it doesn't matter how it's defined. Let's just say it's smart, intelligent and compelling music.
A CD release party for "The Jaw for the Job ... " is scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville. It's free; more details are available here or here.