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Me With Trees Towering

emBROWNLOWe‘s solo work has previously been featured on these pages, but the prolific Ms. Brownlow has gone on to produce another record in the same year with her band, Swallows. This is a slight misnomer — instead of simply emBROWNLOWe, we now have emBROWNLOWe and a bloke who plays drums. He’s pretty good at it, in fact, enlivening opener ‘Flight’ with a fierce hammer attack, and elsewhere doing a pretty passable skin-pounding Keith Moon impression. Brownlow’s guitar work is elegant and uses a wide range of tones, from low-slung garage to the off-kilter grooves of alt-rock, with the occasional floaty melodic cascade thrown in for good measure. Her keys twinkle like a child’s toy, and her voice, although occasionally subsumed by the rhythm section, still shines with dark power. Most of these songs are under 3 minutes, and they don’t all have the clearest idea of where they’re going. ‘Surf Song OR’ lures you in with a Wipeout-esque riff before an odd, drummy middle bit, and then returns to the surf sound. Traditional vocals never emerge although she does shout “surf!” a bit. ‘Hejinian Hymn’ fares better, with overdriven bass pushing you through corridors of eerily isolated melody like a gun-barrel in the small of the back. There’s an instant appeal to ‘Wait Until Dark’ — the sort of song Grease’s Pink Ladies might record for a class project in new wave. Brownlow’s pissed-off purr on ‘Last Call’ echoes around behind its precise, oppressive wall of New York post-punk like the revenge you can’t bring yourself to take.

All in all, Me With Trees Towering is the work of a bold musical spirit and a bloke who plays the drums, and well. This is less accomplished than her solo debut, but with some money behind them these ideas could certainly take the kind of shape to win them favour in the right places

Richard O’Brien was born in Peterborough in 1990, and has been trying to escape ever since. He is currently still trying to get an education, and resides in a Lincolnshire village with his parents and his labradors with nautical names. He likes to act, listen to music, and write songs that will never be sung.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, November 24th, 2006.