The Barstool Philosophers were not what I expected. I usually never read the press or PR materials for any band simply because I don't want to be persuaded (or let down) by the hype. But Barstool Philosophers? I'm thinking hard-edged rock with attitude and a sense of humor. I was more than a little of course. The Barstool Philosophers debut work Sparrows is creative, intelligent, and interesting progressive rock.
The band is an amalgam of players from several Netherlands bands. Obligations to those bands permitted only occasional collaboration, even though they've been working since 1997. It seems that things began to gel when lead singer Leon Brouwer can aboard with some good ideas. The result is 2008's Sparrows, now getting the push outside the lowlands of The Netherlands.
To say that Brouwer's influence pervades this album is nearly an understatement. His vocal performance is impressive as he has sound and delivery that envelopes soaring passion with emotional atmosphere. Brouwer steals the show. Is that to say his compatriots are substandard? Hardly. By example, bass player Bas Hoebink is quited gifted in his performance. As to the arrangements, the songs, though at times intricate, measure on the side of heavy, sweeping, and often symphonic. Listening to Afterglow or Eyes Show the Heart there's certainly a deliberateness to their compositions. And there's also a certain melancholy, reflective, quality to their music. This is likely due to the lyrical content: Leon Brouwer venting about his divorce from his first wife. This combination of music and lyric can be dissuasive and so a hindrance to listening.
But progressive rock is never an easy listen. There's a certain expectation of challenge in the music. It's definitely here within The Barstool Philosophers' Sparrows. The music of this work is sound, creative, and entertaining, if you give it the time required to explore and enjoy. Otherwise, you may not give it a second listen; I'm not sure if I will anytime soon. Nevertheless, The Barstool Philosophers' Sparrows is highly recommended.
There's a certain expectation of challenge in progressive rock. It's definitely here within The Barstool Philosophers' Sparrows. The music of this work is sound, creative, and entertaining, if you give it the time required to explore and enjoy.