The Bingo Brothers – Top Ten – Album Review + Bonus Singles
Alright…I found this album to be an incredibly fascinating one to review; from a writer’s point of view – The Bingo Brothers have done so much with their own music and made it so compellingly versatile that it’s almost tough to pare-down the amount of thoughts each of these songs have put in my head while listening to the songs on their latest record Top Ten. I mean…we’re not talking about anything typical here whatsoever! What your ears can recognize are influences that range from all over genres like Rock, Funk, 80’s…all put together into good-time vibes and messages designed to be uplifting to the soul in combination with the energy in the music. The songs aren’t anything like what you currently hear out there in the mainstream – The Bingo Brothers ride the fringe of what we know in music insightfully-well; in some ways they’re bound to be swimming upstream…but it’s uniqueness that often leads to longevity and a viable career when it comes to a new sound, style or approach from a new artist or band.
Beginning with the smooth sounds of guitar and quick-break into a light-funk, “Hide And Seek” begins the Top Ten album with a song that was definitely strong enough to pull me into the rest. The progression in this opening cut works really well in their favor – I thought the verse was a bit on the low-key side upon the first listen, but when contrasted with the incredibly powerful writing and execution of the chorus on “Hide And Seek,” I ended up enjoying it more and more. I still can’t deny that what really works for me IS that chorus of “Hide And Seek” – I love everything from the way they flow into it to the bright harmonies that dominate the vocals and the simple but effective overdriven-tones from the guitar that accent the melody just in behind them. Strong first tune!
“The Call Of The Wild” instantly takes the album into much more rhythmic-based territory and a massive shift in the style, energy and sound…audibly setting the stage for the diverse material to follow on Top Ten. The Bingo Brothers make impressive choices in instrumentation and sound here…I think the quality in the verse comes up even further than the opening track here on “The Call Of The Wild” – but I still think they’ve found a way to write and execute a chorus that takes the song to that desired next-level. Whether or not you connect more with the style & sound of a track like “Hide And Seek” or “The Call Of The Wild for their completely separate reasons – you have to admire The Bingo Brothers and their confidence in execution and ability to write memorable hooks.
Almost like a fusion of Go West and the B-52’s…The Bingo Brothers let themselves loose on “I Walked With A Zombie.” I’d watch those levels between the backing-vocals and the lead…but I think they’ve delivered on their vision for this song overall. I dig the near-psychedelic vibe that this tune takes on throughout the verse and bright-pop harmonies…it’s a bizarre composition and I’d never dispute that, but oddly, “I Walked With A Zombie” worked. It’s definitely got that aspect of uniqueness that will no doubt be a polarizing issue for listeners out there…it’s always tougher to understand a band’s intent through a song with a distinct sound & style like this track has; some will respond to this like it’s the natural lead-single…for others this might be tougher to connect to by seeming somehow ‘less serious.’ What’s never ‘less serious’ is their commitment to their ideas…and I think that on a track like “I Walked With A Zombie” you really hear that focus from The Bingo Brothers. It’s a focus on creating something unique that stands-out & is a bit off the beaten-path…nothing wrong with that in my books.
I think for myself personally, “Walls” made for one of the most powerful and satisfying experiences on the record. The vocals in this song are spot-on for their tone, strength and energy – the chorus sounds every bit as massive as it should, which echoes the passion in the lyrical theme completely. I felt like “Walls” showed a tremendous amount of force & focus; a stunning combination of power in the music and writing combined that really leads to a mammoth evolution in their sound here. Excellent drum-rhythms lining the beat…guitars are right-freakin’-on at every moment…smartly-placed & intense vocal-harmonies…clever choices of what we hear in the background elements of this tune…I fail to understand what wouldn’t be liked about “Walls” – absolutely one of the strongest tunes on Top Ten.
From there, The Bingo Brothers shift their sound dramatically once again into the friendly pop-inspired atmosphere of “Elemental.” I’ll say this…they’re walking a fine, fine line here. I like the intentions of the song…I like the execution and I admire the sentiment of the message overall. The only issue we’re facing here is that “Elemental” is almost like the candy too sweet to enjoy…which again, coming from the more powerfully-emotional track “Walls” makes “Elemental” almost a tougher gear to shift into as a listener. That being said – I think some of their best harmonies and vocals reside within the magic of the chorus here…but yeah…it’s nearly a song you could stamp with a ‘G’ rating that sounds right on the border of a kid-friendly educational tune. Undeniably well put-together and performed…but maybe a bit too far towards the bright-side of the sunshine for some.
The second-half of Top Ten started with a solid surprise for me. With its Boston/The Cars-tinged sound taking it a bit more closer to the rock-side of their riffs – best way I could describe “Everything Italian” would be to say it’s almost like a combination of the sensibilities, attitude & approach of a band like The Odds combined with that Go West vocal-power to go with it. And that this should be a hit, no doubt. It’s all here in this tune for sure from the hooks in the verse to the chorus…for those looking for some seriously classic-sounds in rock coming vibrantly to life, you get those on “Everything Italian” in amongst pop-sincerity that hits home through the inspired performance from The Bingo Brothers. A track where you can almost hear the band slip into character for to add an extra-layer of cool, especially in the lead-vocals…it all creates a vibe of complete confidence that’s right on target. LOVE the hooks in the chorus of “Everything Italian” and think the attitude in this song overall has massive universal appeal.
Amazingly diverse lineup of tunes that all retain their cohesive threads through the style & approach that The Bingo Brothers take to their music; “Fade In” brings in an electro-funk sound to the music that they’ve made work on this record previously and proves their capabilities in this particular style once again. I think songs like “Fade In” are somewhat against the grain of what we typically hear out there today but not so far off that it wouldn’t pull the people in – in fact I think there are a ton of fans out there that directly search for refreshed sounds & styles like this that they can listen to today. Bands like The Bingo Brothers seem to be built on reminding us of the classic influences that have made music amazing throughout its history while still adding their own twist to each moment to make it their own. Dig the pulsing, vibrant dynamics that create the backbone of this song from the keyboards to the guitar-solos and the enigmatic vocals & harmonies that have continually made The Bingo Brothers a captivating listening experience throughout Top Ten.
“One Woman Can Change The World” – no argument from me there! One certainly changed mine thirteen-plus years ago and it’s never been the same since…so I can tell you firsthand, that’s definitely a true-statement that The Bingo Brothers have worked this song around. I’ll say this…it’s a seriously odd fit into this record…I’m not saying it doesn’t have a place here…but much like “Elemental” it reverts to a more primary melody that keeps it simple and inviting. You can never fault The Bingo Brothers on their execution…and certainly nothing changes quality-wise here, but it is another recognizable dramatic switch in their sound that will more than likely appeal more to some than others. I certainly admire the lyrical-aspect of this song and can definitely get behind the concepts driving this tune…that’s where I’m at with “One Woman Can Change The World” personally.
Out of the sweet-sway of “One Woman Can Change The World” and into the most energetically-charged song on the record, “Graduation Day” comes out ripping brightly from the speakers. For the most part – I think this a solidly written tune that has solid-hooks that are definitely memorable; perhaps almost a bit too-far in the sunshine-department on this one, but it’s hard to knock on a song for its celebratory-nature. Built on a call-and-answer style chorus…I might have had the answer-half, the ‘graduation’ part reach for a bit more energy – it nails the tone but needs a bit more of a spark to really deliver the passion of the moment in the theme. But face it…that’s nit-picking at this point; certainly sounds solid enough as it is now…though like the band The Odds that I’d previously mentioned and compared The Bingo Brothers to, it can be a lot tougher to convince the public of sincerity through such an entirely lighthearted environment. Many bands from The Steve Miller Band to the Barenaked Ladies have struggled with finding that balance over time whereby making their music naturally has also had them making a case for their approach and how ‘serious’ they truly are at different times in their careers. If I was The Bingo Brothers…I’d probably anticipate a bit of that kind of response when considering tracks like “I Walked With A Zombie” or “Graduation Day.” Bottom-line is The Bingo Brothers play through these moments professionally, precisely and entertainingly each and every time…just like all those other great bands I’ve compared them to have – and if they stick to their current level of confidence and commitment…I think that’s what really going to pull people in to stay as fans for years and years. Plus…moments they’ve put into their music to make time for the instrumentation and ideas to flourish like just-past the two-minute mark are very rewarding to listen to for their texture & imagination.
Diving into a light-funk/jazz combo for the album’s final cut “Bingo” – The Bingo Brothers take a moment here for a personal-anthem of sorts and put a real energy you can feel into the last tune on the record. Versatile drums with great tone in the hits & cymbals, all tightly played along in the rhythm section with a bass-line that never quits walking around with wonderfully rubbery legs that move & groove this track around. I think “Bingo” provides a satisfying ending to the album, but also shows that this band can really find that balance between uplifting and energetic without going too far…that when they’re at their most focused, they can write a tune that will make you smile without feeling like you’re getting a cavity at the very same time. Another stylistic-switch in what’s been an extremely diverse experience in sound already…The Bingo Brothers slip into a fantastic rhythm & groove at the end of this record and are certainly capable of creating large doses of entertainment that’s all their own; despite any comparisons I’ve made…they really are doing their own thing, with confidence you can truly hear.
Providing us with insight into their future, we also received two new cuts from The Bingo Brothers’ upcoming record Neo Bingo on April 2nd of this year. “In A Couple Of Days” has them sounding in-character and ready to pump out the entertainment through another inspired and theatrical performance. You can really hear how this band reaches to expand the sound and make it BIG with each song you listen to from The Bingo Brothers; always ones to really pack in the extra light, brightness & entertainment through the hooks they write for their choruses – “In A Couple Of Days” expands cleverly and completely opens-up wide to raise the bar even higher in the structure of the writing in this tune. Good pulse and rhythm to the verse here…it’s got a serious attitude to the vocal-performance that sounds incredibly focused…I really loved the vocals throughout this entire song; they draw on an old-school cool to form the vocal-flow of the verse and powerfully charge through the chorus brilliantly.
Ending my experience with The Bingo Brothers on a track called “One More Thing” – I felt like this final track showed the most growth and evolution in their writing, performance and production as they shift gears and get the material gathered for the upcoming release of Neo Bingo. I bit more of a push towards the modern-day electro-vibe in their approach here, but still including the intense amount of imagination that has made The Bingo Brothers a truly enjoyable listen throughout their material. Smart cuts, editing and writing lead the band to another unique structure & flow on “One More Thing” – but the performance and precision in each moment really does highlight an audible-focus you can hear they’ve made in their choices on this tune.
From the sounds of “In A Couple Days” and “One More Thing” – it definitely seems like The Bingo Brothers are ready to supply another round of their unique combinations of sound & high-doses of stylized-rock. I was born & raised on many of the sounds, artists & bands that have clearly influenced The Bingo Brothers, but what I found to be truly impressive was that you’d never be able to tag their style to any one specific band…they’re a real blend of ideas and I think that’s going to pay off for them.
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