In its eight-year existence Marshall, Mich.’s Small Brown Bike covered a lot of ground. Its debut album, Our Own Wars—released in 1999, was pummeling post-hardcore that never let-up.
The ensuing years saw members leave the band—guitarist/vocalist Travis Dopp left after Our Own Wars but rejoined after the band’s second album Dead Reckoning, coincidentally the same time drummer Dan Jaquint left—and the release of several LPs, EPs and even a split album with The Casket Lottery in 2002. Despite these changes the band’s core members, and brothers, vocalist/guitarist Mike Reed and bassist/vocalist Ben Reed continued to push their songwriting in new directions.
In 2003 Small Brown Bike released the Nail Yourself to the Ground EP and The River Bed LP within six months of each other. These releases maintained the energy of band’s previous output, but with a newfound willingness to explore. Unfortunately, Small Brown Bike broke-up less than a year later, leaving fans to wonder what could have been.
In 2009 Small Brown Bike trekked to Fest 8, and unleashed a new 7-inch, Composite, Volume One. This EP, as well as its follow-up Composite, Volume Two, were obvious signs that the band was still trying to get into the swing of playing and writing together after years away from the studio.
Now, eight years after the release of The River Bed, Small Brown Bike has unleashed Fell & Found. The album, recorded by J. Robbins, proves to be a continuation of the post-hardcore with indie flare that the band had come close to perfecting on its last full-length.
The songwriting on Fell & Found is subtle, seeing each member contribute without ever overstepping their bounds. Jaquint’s drumming is perhaps the best he’s ever recorded, and Ben Reed’s bass tone is massive, filling out and complementing the guitar work. Tracks such as “Rescue Mission” and “As We Go” boast riffs reminiscent of Dead Reckoning, only with a guitar tone that is infinitely cleaner than those found on the band’s early records.
While the band has multiple vocalists, Mike Reed has always taken lead. Fell & Found does a great job of displaying his improved vocals, and making a case for him being the band’s main vocalist. “Just Bones” sees Dopp taking the lead vocally and attempting to sing instead of his classic scream. Luckily, it is a huge success. Meanwhile, Ben Reed’s backups are less pronounced than on earlier works, but serve to add small flares to already strong choruses.
Closer “All of Us” burns slowly, integrating acoustic guitar at its onset before building to a crushing climax. When Mike Reed lets loose vocally, “For the last time/I say I’m sorry,” he displays that his attention-grabbing bellow hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s a closing track that completely sums up Fell & Found. At times it’s post-hardcore, other times it’s pure indie, but the one common thread is it never stops being engaging and emotional. Small Brown Bike is not only back, they’re stronger than ever.
Small Brown Bike – Fell & Found Tracklist:
- “Onward & Overboard”
- “Rescue Mission”
- “Fell & Found (The Walk)”
- “In Need of Everything”
- “As We Go”
- “A Minor Movement”
- “Sleep River Sleep”
- “On Repeat”
- “You Always Knew Me”
- “Just Bones”
- “All Of Us”