Release Date: Jun 7, 2011
Record label: Alive Naturalsound Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock, American Trad Rock
Almost three years have passed since Brian Olive emerged from the vault of the Cincinnati pawn-shop-turned-recording-studio he helped build clutching his excellent full-length solo debut. Yet it appears the ex-Soledad Brother hasn’t just been busy touring and helping out friends—most recently as guest player on label-mate T-Model Ford’s album Taledragger—but has also been behind the console developing his knob-twiddling skills. Two of Everything is as complex as it is catchy.
On his second solo album, former Greenhornes and Soledad Brothers guitarist Brian Olive once again offers an eclectic variety of R&B-based sounds, but his approach has changed just a bit. For Two of Everything, Olive enlisted the production expertise of Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys, and while the album still has a solid, bluesy foundation, the songs here sound cooler and slinkier, with echoes of vintage funk and groove jazz cropping up in the mix, and a good bit more refinement audible in the melodies and performances compared to his self-titled debut. Two of Everything doesn't sound like Olive has turned his back on his blues-based earlier work, but he is veering in a different direction; the results sometimes suggest a Midwestern take on Northern soul as Olive and Auerbach throw just a little pop polish on Olive's vocals and let the pianos and saxophones give the music a subtle but distinct retro feel, even as the steady pulse of several tunes nods politely to hip-hop.
Under the alias Oliver Henry, Brian Olive cut his chops in bands such as the Soledad Brothers and the Greenhornes: retro-leaning, attitudinal outfits who came to some prominence in the slipstream of the White Stripes. Next up are sax parts on Dr John's next album, but in the meantime Olive's second solo offering lends a pleasingly spacey, psychedelic edge to vintage sounds, with sympathetic production provided by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. You could argue retro soul and R&B are two of the decade's hegemonic sounds, but there's no vamping here.
Brian Olive has his roots in the raw, guitar-dominated garage scene that spawned the Black Keys (whose Dan Auerbach co-produced Two of Everything), the White Stripes and two of his own alma maters, the Greenhornes and Soledad Brothers. What sets Olive apart from all of them is that he's not in thrall to the guitar. In the thrusting blues-rock of Back Sliding Soul, the guitar is all but buried beneath rollicking piano and belligerent blasts of saxophone; when it's allowed to surge up for the chorus, the effect is thrilling.