For over 15 years, The Brother Kite have been an alternative rock staple in Providence’s music scene. The songwriting partnership between guitarists and co-vocalists Patrick Boutwell and Jon Downs has produced fantastic music over the span of five LPs and three EPs.
They haven’t been alone in this artistic endeavor, with Down’s wife Andrea on bass, Matt Rozzero on drums and Mark Howard on guitar, keys and percussion rounding out the lineup.
Their fifth and latest full-length release is “Make It Real,” which came out Aug. 14 via the band’s own label Light Fighter Records. They also have a local connection to the area due to Boutwell being a Warwick resident, Howard being a Warwick native and Rozzero living in nearby West Warwick.
The new album is The Brother Kite’s first in seven years since their previous record, “Model Rocket,” came out in November 2013. The extended wait happened due to the members of the band experiencing the evolution that comes with adulthood.
“The reason the album took as long as it did to come to fruition is simply that we all kind of grew up,” Boutwell explains. “My son was about 5 months old when ‘Model Rocket’ came out, and Matt has since had three children and Jon and Andrea have a son now, as well. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice to take our time, but we’re historically a band that does that, anyway, so no change there. It was really a situation where keeping our heads down and hammering away at a new record took a back seat to supporting our families. If we’d made this record without any gaps, it likely would’ve taken four months, tops.”
“It is hard to say what the overall vision is for this record mainly because it was worked on so sporadically,” he adds. “I think I can also speak for Jon on this one in saying that 90 percent of the time, we are writing about our lives, so there isn’t any grand concept as we’ve had in the past. Any sort of story arc or whatever is unintentional. The album actually would’ve been a touch longer if Jon hadn’t insisted that we had a complete album under our noses. It took me a bit to agree, but I’m glad I did. I’m really proud of this record.”
Along with playing on the album, Downs also produced it from his studio at a place called The Overpass in Attleboro, Massachusetts, with Garrett Haines at Treelady Mastering in Pittsburgh handling the mastering side of the recordings. Part of Downs’ approach came from a sense of urgency while also capturing the fuzzy and stripped-down tones present in various tracks.
“I certainly pushed to release these songs, even though part of me didn’t think it was an album either,” Downs mentions. “There is a black hole that swallows songs if they sit around for too long, and I felt that we were getting close to it. When the pandemic hit and our snail’s pace became no pace, I spoke up. It was Mark and Matt that definitively said, ‘This is an album, don’t be silly.’ Proper album or not, I’m just happy to rescue the songs from my hard drive, because they’re pretty good.”
“Despite the scattershot way this was recorded, once Jon brought up releasing it and we started thinking about song order, it was clear to me that it was a real album,” Howard says about the creation process. “It’s not just a random collection of stuff we’d been working on for the past several years. Doing all the album planning over Zoom meetings instead of face to face was a strange experience, but it feels good to be releasing music again.”
“We would record another song every month or two for a while and I remember asking Jon how many we were up to,” Rozzero adds. “When we got to around 10 or 11, then we realized that we had an album. It always sensed like we were recording songs, not a cohesive album, so it was surprising to see how well they all fit together.”
It’s incredible how the album runs the full gamut between electric and acoustic in terms of sound. Tracks like “Don’t Ask Why,” “Crawling Back To Me” and “Sound Of Your Voice” bring a barrage of amplification, while “Dream To Me” and “Hopeless Ghost” have more of an organic aesthetic. Then there are others like “Afraid To Even Try” and “No Way Out” that lean towards a bit of a pop style. There’s also “In Love” standing apart from the rest due to having a mix between shoegaze and post-punk.
If you’re into the sonic potential that comes from alternative rock, then The Brother Kite’s “Make It Real” is ideal listening material. Visit their Bandcamp page at thebrotherkite.bandcamp.com to give it a stream and make a purchase.