MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Up-and-Comers: The Belle Brigade

A new MIMO feature, “Up-and-Comers” will shine the spotlight on newer indie bands that are on the rise, gaining a following, and whom we think our readers will enjoy. This first installment features L.A.-band The Belle Brigade. Take a look!

Although only in existence since 2008, The Belle Brigade’s musical legacy is several generations long. Siblings Barbara and Ethan Gruska have taken their cue (musically speaking) from their father, recording artist-turned-film/TV composer Jay Gruska, and their grandfather, Oscar-winning film composer John Williams. The band’s debut, self-titled LP was released in 2011, and has garnered plenty of positive attention from reviewers and the blogosphere. They have since toured with acts such as Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Good Old War, k.d. lang and G. Love & Special Sauce. They also appear on the movie soundtrack for Twilight: Breaking Dawn (part 1).

The duo’s California-pop/rock sound will immediately inspire comparisons to Paul Simon (one of the band’s primary influences), Fleetwood Mac, and even The Everly Brothers (mainly due to their spot-on sibling harmonies). Truly, vocal harmony is one of this band’s best assets—I could listen to these two sing the phone book. Their record is a fantastic blend of catchy, danceable tunes and deep reflections, all blanketed with an exuberance that makes me smile on the inside, even at the more serious tunes. You can hear clear elements of 70’s rock, with a bit of folk and country, and even a hint of rockabilly. Nothing really groundbreaking in the sound, but very creative songwriting that draws you in and demands that you listen closely. Let’s just say Grandpa ought to be proud.

Beyond their album, which is truly remarkable for a debut, The Belle Brigade is also a band that’s worth seeing live. I had the opportunity to do so, and I was riveted through the whole performance. The duo (as well as the band that backs them up) has a terrific stage presence—and it turns out Barbara can not only play guitar and sing, but is also one of the most dynamic drummers I’ve ever seen. If you like their music, be sure to check their tour schedule. The experience isn’t quite complete without seeing them live.

One other thing worth mentioning: despite their interesting musical roots, this is not a band riding on the coattails of celebrity. I was totally impressed with this band long before I knew their lineage. The Belle Brigade’s greatest appeal is not a revolutionary new sound, but the fact that they are genuinely excellent performers and songwriters. They are perfectly capable of standing on their own, and I have no doubt that they have a great future ahead of them.

I’ve included a couple of videos below. The first is the band’s official video for the song “Losers;” the second is a recording of “I Didn’t Mean It,” their song from the Twilight soundtrack, to give you an idea of The Belle Brigade’s sound. Enjoy!



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About the Author


Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Kim Phelps found her inspiration and love for music listening to local bands play in the coffeehouses around town. She soon found her own voice as a singer-songwriter, and eventually began playing her own gigs in the coffee shops. Her personal influences include Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Ingrid Michaelson and Cat Power, but as an indie musician herself, she has an affinity for any band or artist who pursues creative freedom on the outskirts of the music industry. As our Indie correspondent, Kim makes a point of highlighting up-and-coming independent acts who are creating a buzz and building an audience. When she's not blogging for us or playing in the coffee shops, Kim works as a barista herself to help pay the bills. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Posted in: Featured, Indie/Alternative Music


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