BrassBastardz - Timeline
I want to like BrassBastardz more than I do. Sure, I think this London-based Lithuianian act has an unfortunate name. But I have no idea what "tUnE-yArDs" means and ocassionally refuse to abide the moniker's "kooky" formatting, and I still took to Merrill Garbus' bent-ear, global-minded pop.
Likewise, BrassBastardz should be in my wheelhouse. When this publication's founder/editor handed over Timeline, he hailed Deee-Lite and TLC as reference points. Indeed, "Butterfly," my favorite song here, sounds a bit like "Runaway" in the verses and uses the chorus to celebrate Dionysian activities like drinking under the stars, which might be how Lady Miss Kier spends every Thursday night. And it's certainly uncanny how vocalist Daiva Starinskaite can recall early 90s R&B acts with her tone and phrasing, particularly on "Sunrise" and the similar-sounding "One More Chance" where she begs a lover to take her back and maybe give her a child (sigh). Then again, Swedish diva Robyn and producer Max Martin proved many Northern Europeans internalized house, new jack swing, and hip hop alongside their American counterparts, necessitating a conversation on racial appropriation and globalization but not necessarily eliciting a raised eyebrow.
My problem with this compilation is that there's nothing really here to champion. BrassBastardz make nice, anonymous, not terribly inventive music, and ultimately unremarkable dance music. Perhaps seeing them live would make the difference. Maybe the horns and drums pop and Starinskaite wows the audience with her dexterous vocals and outsize personality. But I don't hear it on record. As I listened to this compilation, I kept thinking of acts like the Dining Rooms or countless other faceless electronic artists I liked well enough at one point but couldn't name a song when asked. This music wouldn't cause complaints if blared over the loudspeakers at some high-end boutique. "Jiemai," which features Alvydas Maciulskas' lite-jazz tenor sax and spoken vocals from Giedre, may as well be a Thievery Corporation track. Though I know I made a similar statement to praise TOKiMONSTA, "Sa Mo Jung" and "Sweet Day" layer grooves, atmosphere, and textured hooks that I can immediately recall and often revisit. I'm pretty sure I would forget any BrassBastardz song shortly after making my purchase, even if I enjoyed swaying to the beat in the dressing room.