Respect the Van

The vaguely R. Crumb-esque cover art of a van tooling down the highway—created by the band’s banjo player and vocalist Alex Morrison—is the first thing that catches one’s attention with Respect the Van, the second CD (released in May 2012) from five-piece string band The Brothers Comatose. The down-home vibe of that drawing foreshadows the sort of down-homey good time awaiting listeners. Album opener “Modern Day Sinners” showcases the fine vocal harmonies of Alex and his brother, guitarist Ben Morrison, as well as the enviable fiddle playing of Philip Brezina. Brezina next launches the quintet—rounded out by mandolinist Ryan Avellone and bassist Gio Benedetti—into a rousing “Pie for Breakfast” (“I’m having pie for breakfast/ The snow’s coming down/ Starin’ out the window in a cold and distant town”), followed by “The Scout,” another piece featuring sweet vocals and excellent fiddle work. Vocalist Nicki Bluhm lends her soulful voice on the pretty “Morning Time,” and “The Van Song” is a foot-stompin’ good time. “Sleep,” however—a laid-back song anchored by hauntingly beautiful vocal harmonies—is the standout on this highly listenable, 11-song CD. Considering the group’s affinity for playing in the Chico area, it seems about time the Brothers graced its fans with a third album.