As ubiquitous has Ugly Brothers‘ name has become on show bills and festivals since the band’s 2011 origin, the Riverwest folk project has released shockingly few songs. It’s been two years since Ugly Brothers, a four-song EP that doubled as the Alex and Palmer Shah-led outfit’s debut release. Back in May, the band broke its silence with “Again & Again,” a single from its forthcoming record that was literally years in the making. Now, more than five years since the sibling-fronted act’s origin, Ugly Brothers have scaled the massive creative mountain—or, more accurately, 16 Tiny Mountains—and are finally ready to let the world hear their debut fell-length.
Instrumental opener “Tiny Mountain” builds into a crescendo of crashing percussion and squealing strings before subsiding and flowing into “Work It Out,” a warm and fuzzy song with light instrumentation and delicate harmonies. The general easiness continues in the banjo- and violin-propelled waltz “Jay,” and the aforementioned upbeat single “Again & Again.” The mood occasionally shifts, as Alex Shah gives way to brother Palmer, whose energetic howl perks up “Decimal,” the winter-weary “Rabbit,” and the record’s title track. By the time Alex returns to the helm and his “Stray” brings the record to a somber and altogether gorgeous close, Ugly Brothers—with their dual vocalists and a group of Riverwest virtuosos supplying rich instrumental and vocal accompaniment—may have taken a while to reach the summit, but they’ve managed something they can look down on and be proud to have accomplished.
Before Ugly Brothers release 16 Tiny Mountains at an August 12 show at Linneman’s that also features Ladders and Fivy, stream the long-awaited album now, only at Milwaukee Record.