NYC’s GENTLEMAN BRAWLERS EXPLORE AFROBEAT'S FRINGES & BOUNDARIES
Gentleman Brawlers are a band known for intense performances that walk the lines between slick songcraft, theatrical flair, and sonic experimentation. Hailing from the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, the group consists of Becca Fox (vocals), Jim Thomson (guitar/vocals), “Chatty Matty” Walsh (guitar/vocals), Ben Charnley (drums) and Alexis Arkus-Duntov (bass). In 2014, the band expanded their lineup to create a live music project dedicated to just one of their sonic ventures—the Afrobeat-influenced sound of their single My Theory—and began performing in NYC jazz & world music clubs as the Gentleman Brawlers Afrobeat Project. Vocalists Lauren Greene and Erica Kimble have joined the group onstage for this series of performances.
2013 was a landmark year for the ’Brawlers, drawing critical acclaim in the US and UK. Brooklyn’s influential magazine The Deli listed them among their top 10 emerging New York bands for that year. Veteran BBC music writer Tom Robinson also offered lavish praise for the group, beginning his review of the group’s single My Theory saying “I know nothing about Gentleman Brawlers and deliberately haven’t checked, in order to focus on the simply outstanding musicianship coming out of the speakers.” Noting the “silken female vocals” and “micron-precision drum grooves,” Robinson went on to call the ’Brawlers “a band that will take over the world” if they manage to pen the right song, while noting that My Theory was good—but not good enough—to launch the band to such heights.
One part harmonically adventurous rock band and one part classic vocal group, the 'Brawlers write memorable hooks and sing them in tight 3-part harmony over a musical bed that fuses Thomson and Walsh’s ambient, chiming guitar arpeggios with Charnley & Arkus-Duntov’s slippery Latin & funk polyrhythms. Led visually by vocalist/dancer Becca Fox’s compelling sense of stagecraft, the Gentleman Brawlers appear determined to contradict the shoegazing indie world’s apparent embargo on showmanship.
In early 2012, the group contributed the single “I Ain’t No Brian Wilson (I Was Made For These Times)” to Occupy This Album, a musical tribute to the Occupy movement. Their debut EP We Were Made For These Times, which explores the fringes and intersecting boundaries of experimental pop and Afrobeat, was released in May 2012 on the band’s own Brooklyn Fields imprint. In 2013, the band released two more singles; Later Than You Think and My Theory, and spent much of the year recording. The band first full-length LP is scheduled for release in March 2015.