Not often does a nearly two-year-old album find its way to my desk. I receive plenty of recordings from various musicians and bands but, usually, in a timely fashion based on the album's release.
This record, Keep 'Em Coming, is a project from The Whateverly Brothers, aka local songwriter and producer Jono Manson and British songwriter George Breakfast. Since I've been repeatedly impressed by Manson's work (both as songwriter and producer) and The Whateverly Brothers has an upcoming show (which is rare), I gave the album a listen.
And it's fantastic.
Keep 'Em Coming is actually two records in one. The first 10 tracks are recent songs; the second half is the duo's first release, Global Toast, tacked on for bonus awesomeness.
"When we were getting ready to send Keep 'Em Coming to press, we realized that we had sold out of Global Toast," Manson tells SFR. "We calculated that there was just enough room for both records on one disc, so we figured, what the hell—let's give the customers more bang for their buck."
Perhaps an homage to Bob Dylan and The Everly Brothers, with a couple tongue-in-cheek Dan Hicks-style numbers, the folky album starts off on the topic of love. It then weaves through tales of Ireland, helplessly missed loved ones and seizing the day. These are classic themes made fresh and beautiful by two talented musicians. Manson's singing voice has an almost Randy Newman rasp, and is accompanied quite well by Breakfast's harmonies. The passion each singer offers is haunting.
Recorded in Breakfast's apartment in Cambridge, England, the first half of Keep 'Em Coming has the quality of any professional studio recording. Knowing that it was recorded so informally simply encourages the mystique and "did you know they recorded this in an apartment?" conversations.
Global Toast was also recorded in an apartment (in Denmark), but the songs have an ever-so-slightly grittier sound than the newer works. Though Manson has a pretty bitchin' studio located in Chupadero, he didn't update Global Toast for its re-release.
"The bonus tracks are the first CD exactly as it was originally released," Manson says.
In the album, classic territory is tread, culminating in a solid series of love songs, which is impressive considering the physical space between Manson and Breakfast. Since the two musicians live on separate continents, recording albums is tricky.
"While we very much prefer to be in the same place and write and record," Manson tells SFR, "we have done a great deal of long-distance co-writing and recording."
To its credit, The Whateverly Brothers had the pen-pal album thing going on way before super-hip pop act The Postal Service. Luckily, they also had the internet.
"With the current technology, it's very easy to upload files and send back and forth," Manson says.
If recording is hard for the pair, playing shows is even more difficult.
According to Manson, "We play live as often as possible, which lately is only a handful of times a year and mostly in Europe, so this gig is extra special for us."
To sweeten the deal further, Breakfast's impending arrival heralds the recording of a solo project, as well as the promise of a new batch of Whateverly Brothers songs.
"While George is in town, we plan on doing as much writing as possible," Manson says. "We've both been storing up bits and pieces in preparation."
And now they can work on those bits and pieces face-to-face.
Follow SFR music news on Twitter: @SFRsA_Sharp