The Brothers Martin is, appropriately enough, the brothers Ronnie and Jason Martin, two of the most prolific and consistently great songwriters making music today.
The Martins are better known for their individual bands - Joy Electric (Ronnie's synth-experimental-pure-analog-pop) and Starflyer 59 (Jason's indie-guitar-pop) - and have over 20 releases between them.
People may, or may not, know that the brothers began their musical journey as the obscure electro-pop duo Dance House Children back in 1990. It is precisely because of what happened in 1990 and, thus, after 1990 that The Brothers Martin project came to fruition.
Fans of the Martin bands (including Tooth & Nail Records head honcho, Brandon Ebel) have wondered what would happen if the brothers collaborated again. Almost as if they went back in time and never formed their respective acts and made records. Certainly, this is armchair philosophizing, but it's a fan's prerogative. Given the quality of songs on both Joy Electric and Starflyer 59 records, it's ok to dream!
In actuality, for years the topic of a Brothers Martin record has been considered, but not seriously ... that is, until last year when Ebel and Ronnie had a conversation.
Ronnie explains, "I was talking to Brandon last year and we were talking about something else and the idea of [The Brothers Martin] just kind of popped out there. Instead of sloughing it off like I've done, I said, 'Let me talk to Jason and let's get the ball rolling and see if we can finally do this and quit leaving it as something that's sort of dangling in the background.' So I talked to him and we worked out a deal with Brandon to release it."
If you're the dramatic type, insert your favorite cliché (to get you started: "Dreams do come true" or "If you kick them in the arse, they will record").
The Brothers Martin is not a thrown together split album of second-rate Joy E and Star F songs.
"My main concern with the project was that I didn't want it to be a b-sides thing," says Ronnie with emphasis.
It is a collection of brand new songs composed by Ronnie or Jason and then each providing their idiosyncratic take on the songs.
Jason explains, "I think me and my brother were used to just doing our own thing. But [on this record] when he was putting his keyboards on my songs, I was just letting him doing his thing. And the other way around, it was pretty much him letting me do my thing, coming up with parts that we both liked."
Ronnie agrees, "We've never really written with anybody [else] before in our lives. I didn't think it was something where we'd be able to get together and sort of democratically push everything out." This approach produced a record that is twofold: it's exactly what you would think it would be (full of hit singles), and it's totally different (style not obliterated, but transcended).
Both Martin's have a distinctive sound - and it would be foolhardy to think that they would completely shed their musical raison d'etre - but the spirit of collaboration, of fusing sounds, of being open to new ideas comes through loud and clear on the record.
The songs are infectious pop flavored with post-punk-disco beats fused with their uniqueness. This is where the "it's totally different" is exemplified.
Take one listen to "Communication", "Behavior Explains", "The Harsh Effect", and "Fears To Remember" and you cannot deny that they succeeded in making something special.
The guitar work recalls classic 80s college radio and vintage synth riffs and leads buoy the addictive hooks, catchy choruses and stellar melodies.
The Brothers Martin is ten songs of near-perfect pop, a project that stands entirely on its own.
Ronnie states, "If we're going to do it, let's let it be good. Everybody is going to have their own opinions anyway, there's nothing you can do about that. For the most part it had to be, hey we know how to write these catchy jingles, let's make sure the jingles are as catchy as our other jingles."
Jason adds, "I like the idea just hearing what somebody else has to offer because I think it's a way of turning your same old tricks into some new tricks."