"Alta Falls" - The Barr Brothers [Official Full EP Stream + Zumic Review]

Brad Bershad

by Brad Bershad

Published April 28, 2015



The Barr Brothers released a 20-minute, 5 song EP today called Alta Falls. On their Facebook page, they say:

The 5 songs on this record are some of our favorite misfits from the Sleeping Operator sessions. The cover art is by our elusive friend Madame Gilles, who's posters have been anonymously gracing the telephone poles of Montreal for years. At this time, the EP will be available in digital format only.

Sleeping Operator, the band's 2014 album, was an absolutely gorgeous record that I called "nothing short of a masterpiece." Stream it and read my review right here on Zumic.

The Barr Brothers consist of Brad Barr (guitar and lead vocals), Andrew Barr (drums, percussion, keys, vocals), Sarah Page (harp, percussion, vocals), and Andres Vial (keys, bass, vibes, percussion, vocals). Brad and Andrew Barr came up in a group called The Slip, a jam / rock trio from Boston. They moved to Montreal where they linked up with Page and Vial, and released their self-titled debut album in 2011.

There are a few things that make The Barr Brothers a truly special band. The most interesting and obvious is Sarah Page's harp playing. Very few groups have been able to successfully incorporate a harp, because of the instrument's delicate and difficult nature. In the Barr Brothers, the harp can be subtle and at times very similar to a guitar or a keyboard -- and that's fine. Even at its most subtle it adds nice texture, and when it steps into the foreground it creates soundscapes that are lush and uniquely creative. The band do an excellent job of avoiding the pitfalls of predictable clichés, as their songwriting balances between music that's sophisticated and yet still grounded.

Brad Barr's songwriting and vocals are a shining light that make The Barr Brothers one of the great bands of right now. His guitar playing isn't necessarily going to blow you away on this EP, but he sounds great fingerpicking and playing slide. You can hear the softer side of Mick Taylor-era Rolling Stones in what The Barr Brothers have been doing. "Burn Card," "Alta Falls," and "Never Been A Captain" are three highlight songs on this EP. "Oscilla" and "May 4th" are nice bookends on the EP, opening and closing the album with weight and giving a sense of journey to the listening experience.

Straddling a line that touches on folk, alt-country, blues-rock, and acoustic pop, there's a timeless quality to the band's sound that's accentuated by the harp and very tasteful playing from the drums and bass. Andrew Barr expertly pushes slow grooves, and his playing helps define a quiet intensity that matches the other musicians perfectly. Andrew Vial's bass playing is warm and playful, leaving plenty of space for the songs to develop. The songs are relaxed, but they have energy and life to them that makes them very enjoyable. The vocal harmonies are another element that helps push this album to a very high level. These are top-notch musicians who make top-notch music.

Alta Falls is available on Amazon and iTunes. You can also stream the full EP above on Spotify.

Follow The Barr Brothers' music, news, and tour dates on their Zumic artist page.


The Barr Brothers
Alt Country Americana Folk Folk Rock Indie Folk Indie Pop
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