Little Brazil's debut album, You & Me, took me by surprise. There's reason to fear when the band makes a point of mentioning that the band is not only from Omaha (strike one!), but that its members have been and are also active in the Saddle Creek (strike two!) scene as well, having performed with established bands Bright Eyes offshoot Desparacedos, Son, Ambulance and The Good Life. That they manage to save their credibility and have created a record that's not only not particularly Omaha-influenced but also highly listenable is the two-strikes, bottom-of-the-ninth home once-in-a-lifetime game-winning home run that saves Little Brazil.
It's to Little Brazil mastermind Landon Hedges' credit that he took his band into a studio that wasn't operated by Mike Mogis. Not that such a thing is a knock to Mogis' abilities, but Little Brazil walk that very thin line between imitation and inspiration, and the involvement of a man who's made the Omaha sound might have distracted from the band's talents. That said, the band does have a sound that occasionally hints at that whole Omaha/emo sound, but I guess such things aren't entirely unavoidable, are they? Nah, I'll let it slide this time, simply because they don't wallow in that whole emo thing, either. Only on "Tip Of My Tongue" does the band falter and become 'typical' in that regard: They've got that whole emotional pseudo falsetto yelling over driving powerful rhythms thing going on here and though it's not bad, it's still cringe-worthy. (Okay, on second listen, it's really not that bad, but still, it could go either way.)
There's still plenty to love on You & Me, though, because there's plenty of love to be found. Hedges sings with a style that's sincere and charming; his lyrics, while about that whole 'love' thing, aren't that terrible and angst-ridden. The words are all about being in love, falling in love, the joy of being in love and all that good stuff that makes you smile. AND NO WHINING! That's how they get away with being so sentimental. They're also somewhat mellow, too; "The Way You Listen" is a jazzy rocker that takes its time getting its point across, in only a good way. I'm also a huge fan of "Walk In The Park," which is a groovy little album closer that has a hidden treat. The total utter winner is the title track. It sounds like a lost Turtles song; it's got hand-clapping and fun organ and is just the most perfect little love song I've heard all morning, and damn it, I've got that song in my heart now and I'm humming it as I walk around the house and you know what? I dont even care. When you listen to it, every day is Valentine's Day and no one is sad.
Do yourself a favor--take a trip to Little Brazil. You'll be glad you did. And don't be afraid by the superficial things that might make you hesitant, because when you set those preconceived notions aside, you'll be quite glad you did.
Artist Website: http://www.myspace.com/littlebrazil
Label Website: http://www.mtfujurecords.com