The Lineup

Say Brother

Columbia, S.C.

When a group begins as the side project of another outfit, people sometimes get hung up on that fact, seeing the new band's music as an extension of what came before it. Columbia, S.C.'s Say Brother has little to do with Mercy Mercy Me, the boozy, bluesy rock band that many of the five-piece's members played in. Say Brother's high-velocity garage folk certainly show signs of inebriation, but it unites old-time string music and rock 'n' roll with a seamlessness that Mercy Mercy Me just didn't suggest.

But the band's beginnings as a back-porch jam, when-we-have-the-time affair is important when considering the aggressively laid-back style they now execute. Say Brother began as a thoroughly un-serious outfit. While what they do now is by no means easy to execute, it retains a devil-may-care attitude that is vital to its irresistible charm.

“We don’t set out to make it anything that we just don’t feel naturally,” singer Tripp LaFrance says of the band's approach. “If it comes out when I’m just sitting on my back porch playing a banjo and drinking a beer, then that’s what it’s going to be. We don’t want to be anything necessarily. We just happen to be playing country.”

Still, while it sounds like a happy accident, their music is a pretty incredible fusion. For the most part, these are largely old-time structures, guitars strumming through quick lines as LaFrance rants with a down-home drawl. The beat comes bolstered by drums, and guitars fill in with riffs that mimic the speedy tangles traditionally taken by fiddle or mandolin. The results are laid out like bluegrass but move with the energy of garage rock. Say Brother's off-the-cuff personality is the cherry on top, too, somehow giving tight, energetic singles the carefree grace of a jam session. Born on a back porch, Say Brother seems second fiddle no more.—Jordan Lawrence