First Listen

First Listen: JEFF The Brotherhood, 'We Are The Champions'

JEFF The Brotherhood's new album, We Are The Champions, comes out June 21. i i

JEFF The Brotherhood's new album, We Are The Champions, comes out June 21. Chad Wadsworth/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Chad Wadsworth/Courtesy of the artist
JEFF The Brotherhood's new album, We Are The Champions, comes out June 21.

JEFF The Brotherhood's new album, We Are The Champions, comes out June 21.

Chad Wadsworth/Courtesy of the artist

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Bands don't usually break themselves the way JEFF the Brotherhood has. The Nashville duo of brothers Jake and Jamin Orall started in the garage as kids, one on guitar and the other on drums. After self-releasing a handful of albums, playing pop-up shows across the country in ad-hoc venues and finding some distribution for 2009's well-received Heavy Days, the band is looking to take its earnest, fuzzy power-punk to a larger audience. Enter We Are the Champions.

Champions is a breakup record, but its creators don't sound down in the dumps. Instead, they aim their sound skyward, borrowing frequently from the ecstatic energy of The Ramones and the guitar heroics of AC/DC. The mid-tempo opener, "Hey Friend," departs from JEFF the Brotherhood's established format of rocking as hard and fast as possible. Lines such as "I've been thinking about your sister / You can tell me if I shouldn't kiss her" evoke the kind of goofball sentimentality that Weezer's Rivers Cuomo mastered in the Pinkerton era.

The rest of the album finds JEFF the Brotherhood trading between the breakneck fuzz of its earlier work and slowing things down for more hooky, melodic numbers. "Diamond Way," "Endless Fire" and the sitar-laced "Health and Strength" might turn off longtime fans, but these departures demonstrate that the duo knows how to do more than just grip it and rip it.

JEFF the Brotherhood has been consistently pegged as "a live band" during its slow and steady ascent. But on We Are The Champions, out June 21, the brothers Orall look to correct that classification.

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First Listen