REVIEW: Brian Shapiro Band — You Me Future Now (LP)
You Me Future Now is the Brian Shapiro Band’s new album following the success of their recent sophomore release It’s Amazing. The Los Angeles native and Philadelphia based musician, songwriter, and performer have maintained his prolific pace since the band first formed in 2020. Banding together during the peak of the pandemic invested the band’s music with an urgency that continues today. “Drip Drip” issues a challenge for listeners. Its unorthodox arrangement is challenging for listeners on first listen but, if you persist with it, you can’t help but feel the musical charge. Assigning some larger meaning to the song is possible if you are straining for profundity, but it’s easier to kick back and enjoy the song’s high-stepping charms.
“Better in TX” pairs his vocals with guest singer Amelia Bushell’s secondary contributions. It is a welcome interplay to an album otherwise dominated by Shapiro’s slightly oddball voice. There’s extra humor for the taking in hearing Shapiro and his bandmates recast their musical vision as an alt country act complete with faux-honkytonk piano. Yes, there’s an agenda behind this song, but Shapiro handles it artfully. You never feel like it’s preachy in any way.
“Are You There God?” is one of You Me Future Now’s oddest moments. Familiar listeners will note how much of its themes recall material from Shapiro’s prior albums, but he reframes the same concerns with cleverness. Structuring the song as a purported letter from Mark Zuckerberg addressing God, Shapiro delivers it with a wild, raving quality befitting the material. It’s one of the album’s most theatrical moments.
One of its most straight-forward moments arrives with “If There Really”. Shapiro’s punk influences are strongly felt during this brief performance and it’s refreshing to hear another example of how he doesn’t rely on the usual combination of song and long lyrics to reach his audience. “Oh, You Children” has an exhortative tilt without ever sounding heavy-handed. It’s one of the best and yet most direct lyrics he’s penned for the collection and the positive uplift, the call for unity, in the heart of the words balances well with its gritty attack.
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“Want” has a slow unrolling quality in the arrangement. Shapiro’s chiming guitar rings out from the mix contrasted his declarative vocal. He’s singing again about familiar themes but, once more, finds a way of restating subjects close to his heart without wearying long time listeners. It is one of the album’s strongest tracks thanks to the completeness of its presentation. Every compositional component is tuned to maximum effect.