Brill is singer-songwriter Brooke Trout’s first acoustic project. Brill consists of Trout (guitar, vocals, ukulele and percussion) and Dave Strauss (guitar vocals, bass and percussion). Their debut disc, on Strauss’ Flat Cat Records, is titled Fish Out of Water. The indie-alt-acoustic duo has been performing live together since 2013.
Their initial audio offering contains 10 original tracks. The album opener is “Shining Star”. Not to be confused with a cover of the 1975 song by Earth, Wind & Fire song, this a nice little opener almost immediately marked different by the use of xylophone (which they repeat on later cuts as well) and includes lyrics by Strauss. It barely hints at the blend of surf pop, alt-rock and jazz-tinged tunes that are yet to come.
The second selection is “What You Wanna Say”. This one features lyrics by Trout. It’s also the most obvious, admitted example of Trout’s affinity for Ricky Lee Jones.
The next number is “Shine”. This one (also with lyrics by Trout) poses the valid but oft’times ignored question: “Why must everyone shine?” It’s marked by Trout’s fun ukulele and the self-confessed influence of Jack Johnson-like surf pop.
The titular track, “Fish Out of Water”, follows. On a mostly upbeat album one needs a song like this. One needs to have some relationship armchair quarterback track. This Trout tune fits the bill nicely. Although the listener may wonder if it was really all that bad since the music so wonderfully contrasts with the message much like some George Harrison solo songs.
Trout makes it obvious though that we must all “Take It In Stride” no matter what happens. Yes, there is a big difference between “getting laid” and the boss “laying off” you and your co-workers but just ‘take it in stride”. This and the prior piece also include the exceptional addition of xylophone mentioned earlier. It makes things fun.
The theme of work-related stress appears again in “I’ve Suffered”. It’s expected by now but it still works. It’s what they refer to as one of their “cheeky anthems.”
“O Song” offers more fun uke and was unsurprisingly selected as the premiere single. It also has an accompanying video actually animated by Trout. It’s already been featured on several radio shows worldwide and is already out on iTunes, CD Baby and the like.
“Healing” is another alternative ballad on the disc. Subject-wise, it’s both intimate and expected but again it works. There are, after all, only so many stories in the world. The trick is to make the story unique and personal.
“My Own Skin”, like “Shine”, focuses on individuality. This is also the only other song to feature lyrics by Strauss. It’s refreshingly honest in terms of attitude without being in your face.
The closing cut is “Salt”. Trout’s salt, however, is not bad for you and includes her uke and signature lines like: “We can meet again for the first time.”
Need something that stands apart from the standard fare? Check out Brill’s Fish Out of Water. Coming your way on May 1, 2015, you just might discover their music has a “Healing” effect on you.