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Just Because

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Editors’ Notes

The Belle Brigade's 2011 self-titled debut was rollicking fun, a dusky collection of summertime roots-pop front-loaded with the brother-sister duo's honeyed harmonies. While that album sounded uncannily like Fleetwood Mac in parts, Just Because expands the band's sonic palette, looking both backward and forward. The smoldering psychedelic rhythms of "Ashes" introduce the group's newfound sense of sonic adventure, heard elsewhere in the rambunctious arrangements of "Not the One" and the playful marimbas on "Everything for a Stone." Still, there's some deeply gratifying classic rock here. The album highlight, "Likely to Use Something," is a driving midtempo roller in the vein of Kings of Leon; it's the kind of track that makes you want to put the top down and cruise the Pacific Coast Highway. "When Everything Was What It Was" returns to Nicks/Buckingham territory, while the slow burn of "Metropolis" recalls Tom Petty. Just Because is a sterling sophomore effort from a band that sound wise beyond their years.

Customer Reviews

Good, But Disappointing Follow-up

As a rabid fan of their first release, it pains me to say that The Belle Brigade's sophomore album falls short. I hesitate to describe the sound as a "new direction", but the considerable use of electronics and synth give this album a very different feel. At times, the synth tracks overwhelm the songs, forcing the Gruska sibs' beautiful signature harmonies to take a back seat ("Not The One You Want" is the best example of this.) The percussion tends to be a little intense and awkward as well, which doesn't exactly help the vocals to stand out.

The new sound and production issues aside, the songs themselves are simply not as good as those of their previous release. At first listen of that album, I was immediately hooked. The songs were gorgeous, though raw, and brimming with heart. "Just Because", while not lacking in personality, feels noticeably more like a collection of songs, none of which attempts to make me cry. There is simply no equivalent to the poetic sadness of "Shirt", the emotionally powerful chorus of "Rusted Wheel", or the adorable sweetness of the post-apocalyptic "Fasten You To Me" on this album. Production ("overproduction", I'm inclined to say) seems to have been a higher priority than songwriting this time around.

Thus far, this review has been a comparison to the first album, which, admittedly and obviously, I have a soft spot for. Had I not heard it first, I might like the new one considerably more than I do. For this reason, I imagine I might learn to appreciate it in time (I've listened to it 5 or 6 times, and I don't plan on shelving it any time soon.)

It feels perhaps a little early in The Belle Brigade's career to be entering an experimental phase, if that's what this is. I would've prefered their follow-up to be cut from more-or-less the same cloth as the first album. As a fan/listener, I tend to want an artist's second album to deliver more of what I found appealing in the first place. As a musician, I realize the silliness of such expectations.

"Just Because" is a good album. There's no denying that. I love the lead bass on "How I See It", probably my favorite track. That said, I would recommend the eponymous album to anyone who hasn't yet heard The Belle Brigade. Or would I. . . Perhaps listening to "Just Because" first will prevent the disappoinment I felt. Then again, maybe I'm just overly critical.

Great, underappreciated pop/rock/folk band

I randomly discovered The Belle Brigade's first album 3 years ago and I'm still listening to it today. I'm assuming most people who get to this page will have heard it, but if you haven't do so ASAP. Their new album Just Because is streaming now--officially coming out on March 25-- and it's just as great.

There's not much to explain...just really simple, fun songs. They have amazing vocal harmonies, great melodies, and intelligent lyrics. Their sound is both current and timeless. It's just one of those hidden bands you can't believe aren't blowing up the radio once you hear them. Perfect spring/summer album.


Really great songs which you want to hear over and over and get stuck in your head a lot. Smart lyrics and interesting music. Buy it!


Formed: 2008 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

Based in Los Angeles, the Belle Brigade is a pop duo featuring Barbara and Ethan Gruska, the grandchildren of Oscar-winning film composer John Williams. Before teaming up with her younger brother, Barbara launched her career as a touring musician, becoming one of L.A.'s most sought-after drummers thanks to her work with Inara George and Jenny Lewis. Taking a break from the road in 2009, she began writing music with Ethan, a teenaged pianist who'd been penning his own songs in her absence. Both siblings...
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Just Because, The Belle Brigade
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Customer Ratings