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The Lost Brothers, Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland, showed up to the studio dressed much like how I imagine my grandfather was when he came to Boston from Ireland in 1941. Their modest attire matched their shy, unassuming personas perfectly; answering most everyone’s questions with “That’s fine” or “Either way is fine” in their endearing brogues. However, they quickly transformed into bold and emotive performers once they got their guitars in hand and opened their mouths to sing.
The Lost Brothers play folk rock in a traditional sense with an undeniably modern sensibility. At the forefront of almost all of their songs are their tight vocal harmonies. Vocal harmonies are certainly having a resurgence in recent years, but rather than perform the intricately arranged, multi-layered, Beach Boys inspired harmonies, the Lost Brothers sing the same melodies in a perfectly simple and in sync manner, reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel. Their voices blend together so much so, that it was not until they opened their set with “City of the Rose” that I was able to distinguish whose voice was whose. The song featured just one guitar, held at a sharp, 60-degree angle by McCausland, and the two singing with their voices molding together and filling in the gaps. They stared distantly despite having only a few feet in front of them.
The next song they played was from their new album The Passing of the Night which comes out September 25th. The track was significantly folksier than some of the tracks earlier in their career. After hearing it, it is clear why Leech told me afterwards that the song is from their “best album yet.” They performed the song with so much honesty and emotion, and judging by the looks on their faces when they sing “my heart is in misery,” I believe them.
The Lost Brothers closed the set with “Now That Night has Come” from their upcoming release The Passing of the Night. The song sounded like a subdued pub song; one sung at three in the morning when the initial energy of a night of celebration has long faded away. It had a calming sense of closure and served as a perfect song to end their set.
By the end of the set, it started to become clear exactly why they call themselves the “Lost Brothers” and Leech reassured my thoughts. “We’ve become brothers, musical brothers” said Leech “people just started calling us the Lost Brothers and it stuck.” By the looks of it, the pair were not separated at birth, but they prove that brotherhood can transcend biology with their beautiful music.
Leech described their new record excitedly as being “more raw, gritty, recorded on tape.” It is also being released on Readymade Records as opposed to, Birddog, the label they started themselves to release their last album. This allowed them to, as Leech said, “focus on the music” instead of worrying about running the label. However, Leech made it clear that they are not done with Bird Dog and that “we’ll always have Bird Dog.”
The Lost Brothers’ simplistic and stripped down approach to music is refreshing in an age where artists tend to take advantage of the accessibility of composing ornately instrumented music. Their sound, they say, “just kind of happened, it wasn’t a conscious decision.” If anything, the Lost Brothers are living evidence that, as they say, “sometimes you just need a guitar and a voice, and simplistic arrangements can be just as powerful.”