After four years and three releases, Adam Brock’s Borrowed Beams of Light project has become as well-known to locals as the various bands (most notably the Invisible Hand) for which he’s lent his not-inconsiderable talents as a drummer. In addition to his hammering accuracy behind the kit, Brock also has a crystal-clear singing voice and an instinctive power-pop sensibility that can often disguise the strangeness and surrealism of his lyrics and song structures.
On the Wings of a Bug is the Beams’ latest, first recorded as demos by Brock and erstwhile bandmate Nate Walsh, before being fleshed out into fuller form over a series of piecemeal recording sessions at various professional, amateur, and home studios by Brock’s usual cast of live collaborators: Corsair’s Marie Landragin and Jordan Brunk, drummer Ray Szwabowski, and Weird Mob’s Dave Gibson (whose label, Hibernator Gigs, also released the record). It’s the bands’ second full-length, a 13-song LP-only release housed in a stellar sleeve designed by Brock’s Hand bandmate Thomas Dean (who’s been doing killer work recently; see also his OMD-esque cover for Raleigh’s WhateverBrains from this past summer).
Bug isn’t the Beams catchiest effort, but it is easily the most cohesive, mostly toning down the fist-pumping shout-along power-pop choruses, and eschewing Brock’s wilder impulses in favor of crisp, streamlined, and easily charming mid-tempo indie-pop groovers. The highs are fewer, but the lows are nonexistent; while the A-side is breezy, sedate, and largely likable (if unmemorable), the B-side is where Brock’s strengths as an arranger really come to the surface, as the songs begin to expand take strange turns and wonderfully unexpected digressions; the whistling back-up in “Drawing Blanks,” the sparse reverb of “Machines,” the weird, burbling keyboards in “Getting There,” and the twangy country guitar and inverted Beatles allusions in “the News” all belie the scope and ambition of Brock’s winningly eccentric vision.
Borrowed Beams of Light will play an LP release show on Saturday, November 9th at the Southern Café and Music Hall. The supporting acts are Dead Professional, the new solo project of the Cinnamon Band’s John Harouff, as well as Black Girls, a dubiously-named band of white boys from Richmond. The venue opens at 8:30 with music starting at 9PM, and tickets are $8 at the door.