Adam Ostrar - Brawls In The Briar

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2017-10-13
Adam Ostrar - Brawls In The Briar
Adam Ostrar - Brawls In The Briar

If you have never heard of Adam Ostrar before and, by some chance, you get to hear his album Brawls In The Briar, you might be tricked into thinking that you have run into a great talent out of nowhere. The assurance, the quality of the songs, their variation…

Ok, sure, there is such a possibility, but such occurrences are extremely rare. Not in this case. You see, Adam Ostrar used to be Adam Busch and he’s been around the music scene for more than twenty years. For those a bit more familiar with the output of Jagjaguwar label in the late Nineties they’ve certainly run into Adam, as he was the driving force behind bands like Curious Digit (interesting) and Manishevitz (very good). He was also involved in various projects by the Chicago greats Califone and has later had a project called SONOI.

None of the above are such big household names except maybe Califone, but being involved in making or creating some solid, quality music can give you the assurance to come up with an album as good as Brawls In The Briar. It also gives you the ability to think out your composing and recording process, because throughout the album you realize that Ostrar had an amazingly thorough plan. This album was recorded over a mere five recording days - without rehearsals. Thus, to be able to come up with anything that resembles good results you really have to have everything thought out and a crew that really know what they’re doing. Having Wil Hendricks (Califone), Michael Krassner (Boxhead Ensemble) and Stephen Patterson (White Rabbits, Spoon, Hamilton Leithauser) obviously helped.

What is really striking is the musical variety that Ostrar introduces on this album, from the Velvet Underground circa Loaded opener of “Enemy,” to Kevin Ayers/Robert Wyatt-like “Another Room,” to Bert Jansch-style picking on “Warlock,” Seventies ‘soft rock’ of “Spare Me,” to a cross between Tim Buckley and Skip Spence on “Drinking From A Candle.” And that's only halfway through the album. What is most interesting is that  Ostrar, across all of these genres, manages to present a unified musical picture, no matter where certain elements were picked from. That is why, as the album progresses and songs like “Cossacks In The Building” come up, you simply stop picking out the influences and start enjoying what you hear.

So, no surprise talent dropping out of nowhere, but a surprisingly good album from somebody (albeit under another last name) that even the most ardent followers of the indie scene have left somewhere in the corridors of their extensive mental archives. No reason to forget Adam Ostrar now.

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