by Nathan Cardiff

Ross Brown is at it again. After years of solid solo work (full disclosure, I went to high school with the guy; he’s been making great music for a looooong time) and playing in some of Kansas City’s finest bands (The Empty Spaces, The ACBs), his Fullbloods return to give us a stellar High Dive Records debut.

Mild West is heavy with retro vibes; its cool melancholy gives us a layer of funk to compliment Brown’s clear falsetto. The quartet veers between the outright catchy pop of the first three tracks “Money,” “Neverminded,” and Kind Of Gentleman” before hitting you in the gut with more solemn, (still fun if you’re a sick freak like me) groovy tracks like “No Keys,” “Caught A Feeling,” and “Winter Coat.” “No Keys” has some terrific harmony work and unforgettable guitar. The bass line on “Anima Mundi” forces you to move your body; the keyboard work is very reminiscent of easy-listening, but I mean no disrespect. There’s no corniness here; if anything it just feels like a toast to nostalgia.

But there isn’t a major dichotomy between the catchier tunes and the slower tempo tracks; Mild West is incredibly cohesive throughout. Look no further than “Shrimp Etouffee” with its gloomy pulse that still gives us a warbly optimism. All these songs are given equal sorrow and joy, whether reflected in the lyrics or the instrumentation. They breathe; there’s no jarring one-eighty to change the sound and that’s a relief.

Fullbloods impress in their style. The record ends with the phenomenal one-two punch of “New Generation” (kind of the dark counterpart to opener “Money;” equally catchy but with a sinister pace to the percussion (arguably my favorite track) and the soft closer “Air Conditioner.” And when Brown coos “When the new generation comes/Don’t you wanna live forever, baby?” what reads as snark kind of comes off as despair. The misery is a real good time.

Favorite Tracks: “Anima Mundi,” “Is This A Locked Room?,” & “New Generation”

by Nathan Cardiff