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Band to Watch: JEFF the Brotherhood's Pop-wise Scuzz-Rock

Plus, watch an exclusive video for their new song 'Hey Friend'

May 31, 2011 6:25 PM ET

WHO: Two skinny Nashville brothers – guitarist/lead vocalist Jake Orrall, 25, and drummer Jamin Orrall, 23 – who've been subjecting sweet power-pop melodies to borderline-stoner-rock and outer-space fuzz explosions for nearly a decade now. Their latest release, We Are The Champions  – a self-acknowledged breakup album squarely in the tradition of Weezer's Pinkerton, except a lot sludgier – comes out in June on their own Infinity Cat label.

NASHVILLE CATS: Jake and Jamin moved from Massachusetts to Nashville's rural outskirts in 1990 when their singer-songwriting dad, Robert Ellis Orrall, once and for all traded in his New Wave past – his early Eighties albums, like his sons' music, drew occasional Cars comparisons – for a country career that's seen him pen songs for stars like Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift. The brothers grew up, Jake says, "with 500 acres of nothing behind us," so he and Jamin kept each other company, eventually by starting bands. Jake made his own comic books, too – one about a confused stuck-on-Earth alien named "L."

ALTERNATE FORMATS: Their dad "had a pretty big record collection," Jake remembers. "He used to play us old Devo, Clash, Talking Heads albums." At Infinity Cat, vinyl remains a priority. JEFF the Brotherhood have split 45s with bands like Screaming Females and the Greenhornes, and they recently put out a live one-off on Jack White's Third Man Records. They've also been known to dabble more experimentally on cassette-only releases: An upcoming one, he says, is "more Krautrock, with a 20-minute improvisation – going a slightly different direction, just for fun."

ROAD RULES: JEFF have been touring mostly nonstop – hundreds of shows a year, frequently at house parties and other ad-hoc venues – since 2009. Jake says he drives the backseat-less Econoline van 90 percent of the time, but they always take a third guy along to serve as combination tour manager/roadie/sibling-rivalry arbitrator. Last time out, they stopped at a Walmart (Jake had never been to one), where they all bought fishing poles and one-day Kansas fishing licenses. On a rare day off a couple weeks ago, Jake caught a largemouth bass. The next day, they drove through tornado-wrecked Joplin, Missouri—gasping, Jake says, at "big steel structures, all over the highway."

SCROUNGING FOR SLUDGE: Another big tour activity for the Orrall bros: flea markets, where Jake says they look for parts of wild animal bodies (like fox tails and deer antlers), and cheap old Seventies hard-rock LPs with super-heavy drums and he-man vocals. Jake has scored albums lately by forgotten combos like Moxy, Dog Soldier, and Point Blank – usually with just one or two good cuts each on them – not to mention a $5 copy of Hawkwind's 1971 In Search Of Space, with a tour log inside no less. So it's a big deal that, come August, the boys get to tour with actual ageless Virginia Seventies-survivor doom-metal merchants Pentagram.  Jake doesn't expect an ageless crowd, though: "Pentagram's audience," he swears, "is all young hipsters now."

LAST WEEK: The Vaccines, Hopped-Up Romantics Ruling the U.K. Charts

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Song Stories

“I Was Made to Love Her”

Stevie Wonder | 1967

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