Brett Newski – Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down
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Trying to get a bead on Brett Newski is weird. Part folk-punk but at the same time, he lacks something in the aesthetics – part indie, but there is too much of the folk-punk and grunge in there. There are a dozen different sub-genres of rock and punk that Brett Newski fits into, and at the same time, refuses to be held by. It’s been two years since his last album, Life Upside Down, whose success gained him tour dates with The Pixies and Manchester Orchestra. So will his new album Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down cause the magic to strike twice, once we have left the horror of the plague lands?      

Maybe.

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Opening with ‘Grow Your Garden’, we get the style Newski has become famous for. A slow Allegro tempo with an electrical, minimalist rhythm beat wrapped around an acoustic and electric guitar sound. Rather than sounding sterile, there is a vibrant arrangement and harmony that makes it quite a bouncy little song.

Later tracks such as ‘Last Dance’ and ‘Lousy T-shirt’ experiment with style – the former having a faster tempo and denser arrangement but still with a cheerful core, while the latter is a slower song with a stripped-down, guitar-based arrangement.

But despite this, there is a repetitiveness to the tracks at times. Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down doesn’t suffer from the one-track syndrome, but there is almost a uniformity to each track’s structure. It’ll start slow, the kick will happen around the 15-20 second mark, build up a bit, bridge, and end. It’s not bad, and when playing the whole album, you don’t become lost in it – only when you take each track out on its own.

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There isn’t anger to the music that you would tend to get with this quasi folk-punk. Newski set out to write an album about the destructive nature the modern world has on us – social media making us miss human contact. As I said, the lyrics aren’t angry, ‘fight the system’ type.  

They’re more rueful, world-weary, and sad – at odds with the music Newski is playing. There is a vibe of Bob Dylan and even a smattering of Crash Test Dummies in Newski’s sound. Rich working within a simple core, giving it more impact.

Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down is available to buy and stream now.