John and the Sisters - Reviews

 
 

"This one's for those who like a streak of insanity with their music, which singer-guitarist Kevin Breit can always be counted on to provide. Add gravel-voiced howler John Dickie to Breit's Sisters Euclid Band, and you get rock and jazz and blues and some sort of hairy, hauting sound all mixed together. "Gun" features a reverberating guitar and soulful vocal harmonies. The infectious "Pralene" builds incessantly, courtesy of some joyously noisy percussion. "Too Damn Big" is a yell-athon that's either about life's problems or about a dog that won't get off the couch. Two treats are the loud but tender "Faithfully" and the lush and bouncy "Good Fay". This is a wholly unique album, one without apparent influences. The best lyric is on "Love to Stay, Gotta Go," in which the protagonist sings, 'I would've left you at the altar, if you hadn't turned me down.' A-"

- Ed Symkus
Boston Tab
July 23, 2004 

 
   

"This truly is an "in-your-face," "no-holds-barred" blues record that we encourage all who want "a little somethin' different" to latch on to."

- Sheryl and Don Crow
Music City Bluesletter
August 2004 

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"Look at Kevin Breit's resume (Cassandra Wilson, k.d. lang, and Norah Jones, for whom he both played and wrote songs), and you wouldn't dream of an album sounding anything like this. Strange, quirky and engrossing songs with a Zappa garage-rock sensibility that crosses all American roots boundaries, it unnerves and consumes in the same strain. After opening with a small child's voice and plucky piano jingle (think United Airlines ads), the music plunges into a Stevie Wonder-in-Hell funk tirade, "Too Damn Big." Just when you want to write this off as loud and obnoxious, Kevin and company feed you enough melody and intricate instrumentation to suck you back in, a true sign of musical finesse. "Gun" is a high-lonesome vibrato-guitar dirge with some of the most canny guitar feedback solos since Queen. "L.A." could pass for War in their heyday. The cover art (front and back) in itself is a demented treat."

- Steve Cagle
KVMR Radio (Nevada City, CA)
Aug/Sept 2004 

 
   

"Toronto session player Kevin Breit must have gotten tired of Norah Jones' sleepy ballads and Cassandra Wilson's lush jazz stylings as he takes his own band -- the Sisters Euclid - on an ingenious roller-coaster of sound.

Breit enlists harp man John Dickie and a host of other musicians to create a cacophony of blues, giving the tired genre a desperately needed breath of fresh air. You know it'll be a strange listen when the first lyrics on opening track "
Too Damn Big" are "Get that dog off the furniture!" The exuberance on this Waits-like disc slaps you in the face from beginning to end. 4 1/2 stars"

- Alan Small
Winnipeg Free Press
June 26, 2004 

 
   

"Slide-guitar sideman Kevin Breit made his name backing Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson, but his own band plays vintage-style blues-rock and they take the energy level up a notch on the live-off-the-floor recording. Rather than re-tread the genreís well-worn stylistic path, the Sisters drop plenty of weird-ass twists and turns into the music. Breitís unpredictability and versatility take up a large part of the picture, whether heís coaxing percussive grunts from his axe ("Too Damn Big"), sustaining feedback solos that sound like a theremin ("Gun") or navigating nimble-fingered jazz lines ("Good Day").

MOMENT OF TRUTH:
"Pralene" (2:33-3:16) This tongue-in-cheek rocker really takes off when the tempo shifts suddenly into high gear, cuing Breitís break into an Eastern mode that proves the perfect medium for his fluid slide work and eccentric sense of melody. 4 ½ stars"

- Guitar One
August, 2004 

 
   

"Best New Artist of the Week!
You will not believe your ears when you hear this genre-bending, live-off-the-floor sonic blues adventure. Bandleader Kevin Breit (who has worked with Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson) returns with a huge sounding, monstrous junkyard dog. With his immensely talented Sisters Euclid Band and brash blues-belter John Dickie, Kevin has produced a jaw-dropping, string-bending stew of original songs and sounds. Incredible original songs--like absolutely nothing on the market today. There isn't anything Breit can't do with six strings, playing Delta blues or rolling with tumbleweeds across the range. The man is a versatile guitarist that crosses the boundaries of jazz, pop, rock, R&B and country. He's famous for proving that even Canadians can feel the blues. A little bit groovy, a little bit funky and completely filled with the blues. Put John Dickie and Kevin Breit and his band together and you've got John and the Sisters. They are a wonderful collaboration that you could describe as crazy cosmic burnin' blues from another planet. Genres get bent, volumes get adjusted (usually upward), songs come live off the floor, and happy, amazing and adventurous chaos ensues. They have created a bluesy swagger that grows to extraordinary form when John does his serious barking unlike anyone else. They don't make records like this; at least, until now, they never have.
"

- The John Shelton Ivany Top 21 #181
June 4, 2004 - June 11, 2004 

 
   

No women here - just guys grooviní out. Calling a band "Blank and The Blanks" usually means that thereís one over-the-top superstar and a few interchangeable folks hanging around behind them. But not here.

To begin with, singer John Dickie is only an occasional member of Toronto-based blues band the Sisters Euclid. His vocal stylings are a fine addition, though - he heats up boppiní tracks and swampy grooves equally well.

Hmm. If itís not Dickie, then the "name attraction" must be guitarist Kevin Breit - after all, heís the one whoís worked with Norah Jones (as the sticker on the package tells us). But even though he lays down some smokiní solos, heís not the centrepiece of this recording either.

So whoís the star here? The whole damn band. Whether itís a standard jam like "
Only One" or an exotic piece like "Good Day," the Sistersí live-off-the-floor near-epics will make you long to have the blues again." 4/5

- Jennifer Abel
Fast Forward
April 29, 2004 

 
   

"This new album by Kevin Breit is a blues smorgasbord and a mishmash of musical styles. The Sisters here are actually not of the female variety, but rather, blues singer John Dickie teaming up with Breitís blues brothers - the Sisters Euclid band. Breit and Dickie wrote or co-wrote most of the tracks; the combination is a blues experience unlike any other. Breit has garnered much attention over the last few years as a member of Norah Jonesís band, having played on her last couple of albums. For the accomplished Hogtown guitarist, the move from easy-listening jazz to back-alley blues was easy. The album opens with the funk-driven, loud song 'Too Damn Big,' which assaults your senses with its big sound that echoes the godfather of soul, James Brown. From the honky-tonk blues piano on 'Only One' to the sleepy, jazz-soaked, spacey blues arrangement on 'Gun,' to the spoken word of Breitís son on the fun 15-second 'Bad Machine,' John and his Sisters is a spirited blues fusion that offers a little something for everyone."

- David McPherson
Exclaim!
May 07, 2004 

 
   

"Thank God there is more to Toronto blues than Jeff Healey. This genre-busting cosmic blues CD dismantles the 12-bar style, throws it in the air and lets the pieces fall where they may. The songs are then swept up and put back together with pipe cleaners and chewing gum - with glorious results. Most songs start off with all of the traditional elements intact but, through improvisation, the end result is usually twisted into something completely different. It's not impossible for them to start off with a barrelhouse boogie and, by the end, be dragging through a New Orleans funeral dirge with a singing saw leading the charge. Kevin Breit's (Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson) sonic swamp blast is worth the price of admission alone."

- Johnson Cummins
Montreal Mirror
May, 2004 

 
   

"Breit achieved 'fame' for his songwriting with multi-Grammy winner Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, and to a much lesser extent for his work with the incredible Harry Manx (who is playing the Omaha Blues Societyís Blues Cruise later this month). While not yet a household name, Breitís music has been heard at least once by every American (able to hear). Itís no wonder; heís an incredible talent.

On his latest release, a solo effort disguised as Ď
John and the Sistersí, Breit delivers a blues based album that older music fans will be able to sink their teeth into without having to be dumbed down for mass consumption. Inevitably weíve all purchased an album that we adored upon initial listening and quickly never played again. The best albums are the records that unfold upon repeated listening. This album promises to be one that non-traditionalist blues fans are going to be playing repeatedly for decades. Breit bends and perverts musical boundaries to create songs that challenge the listener. The opening track, Too Damn Big, is a song that Aerosmith should have done on their latest album. Much like a Tyler/Perry composition, Too Damn Big, is a super funky blues number that cuts across genres with a Tom Waits sort of bite to it. By the time Breit reaches the track, Good Day, heís transmogrified into a tasty John Mellencamp sort of approach.

If you experiment with one 'blues' album this year, this album is a five star gem that has that great Ď
FM blues based classic rock soundí we grew up on. Whatís better, the performances are exceptional and the songs are excellent. Yes, upon initial listening itís going to be coming at you from left field but itís quite good and worthy of your consideration."

- Rick Galusha
Homer's Music
May 10, 2004 

 
   

"Produced by Norah Jones sideman Kevin Breitt, John and the Sisters self-titled debut is blocks from anything normal; call it screw-loose blues. 'Too Damn Big' rumbles to life as rough-hewn John Dickie shouts, 'Get that dog off the furniture!' Thatís precisely what this album is all about: misbehaving. This track stubbornly refuses to sit and beg; it just takes what it wants. And the funky 'L.A.' will make fans of War roar."

- Tony Peyser
Santa Monica Mirror
May 12 - 18, 2004 

 
   

"Any preconceptions one might have about Kevin Breit based on his work with Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson would be worthless in the face of the acid-washed yet crisply presented Blues found on John and the Sisters. The principals here are the Sisters Euclid -- Breit's moonlighting musical collective and Soul shouter John Dickie -- who have teamed up for a set of uptown Blues originals that toe the line between raw and refined, contemporary and traditional, Delta and urban. Breit's guitar style is a sinewy blend of the many permutations of the Blues, while Dickie's voice can be as raggedly evocative as the Blues masters of old and as cleanly precise as the students of now. Even played off the cuff and with an air of edgy improvisation, the musical prowess of the Sisters gives the stripped down soundscape a roughly polished elegance. From the Sweet Pea Atkinson-fronts-Phish Blues jam of "Too Damn Big" to the New Orleans swing of "Pralene" to the carnival Blues of "Good Day," John and the Sisters take a broad and satisfying tour of the Blues."

- Brian Baker
Cincinnati CityBeat
May 10, 2004  

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"Kevin Breit has made his name backing up female singers with an MOR or laid-back jazz bent (Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, Céline Dion, etc.), so for his own material, he's hired John Dickie, who has the most testosterone-fuelled voice on this side of the Atlantic from Tom Jones. Dickie is billed as a special guest, joining Breit and his fellow Orbit Room denizens The Sisters Euclid to shout out some fat, strutting blues-rock. The political and socially conscious angle to some of the lyrics is balanced by a healthy dose of silliness -- where else will you encounter a trailer-park queen by the name of "Pralene"? Breit's guitars, whether twangy, gauzy or Fripp/Eno hazy, shape the music in unexpected ways. The songs can occasionally get long-winded, but mostly, this Sister act is a gas."

- MD
Eye Weekly
May 6, 2004 

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"This union of veterans has resulted in one of the best albums of the year. Dickie's cutting edge blues belting is the perfect match for this over-the-cliff band."

- John Valenteyn
Toronto Blues Society
May, 2004 

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"NorthernBlues Music started exposing Breitís wizardry to a wider audience last year, releasing a magical collaboration with fellow picker Harry Manx on the wonderful Jubilee. Now they have alchemized another potent musical potion by teaming the Sisters with Canadian blues shouter John Dickie. Proof of this projectís kismet factor is that it was recorded virtually live in three days..."

- Michael Ross
Puremusic
May, 2004 

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"...as in Toronto blues belter John Dickie and the Sisters Euclid Band, the instrumental outfit led by guitarist Kevin Breit. A versatile musician (of Folk Alarm and SuperGenerous), Breit hit paydirt playing on Norah Jones's two albums (she performs his song "Humble Me" on her latest). This live-off-the-floor album is a spasmodic affair, lurching from Tom Waits-style junkyard noise on "Gun" to The Band-inspired "A Better Way". But it does include one genuine gem: the stirring ballad "Faithful," a nod to Little Feat's Lowell George."

- Nicholas Jennings
Inside Entertainment, National Post
April, 2004 

 
   

"Together, John Dickie and the Sisters Euclid have created a blues/rock program that draws from their shared backgrounds. Fun oozes all over the place."

- Jim Santella
All About Jazz
April, 2004 

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"Kevin Breit's duet album last year was simply a punch in the mouth. Simple, in your face and a jawdropper. After lending his talents in an understated way to Norah Jones and other top liners, he decided to stay home with his family and pull some rabbits out of his hat. The first of these rabbits is another jawdropper. It's supposed to be a blues record, but don't let that limit your thinking and listening. Breit simply steps out on his own, for himself and comes up with such a monstrous hit in the head that this set is simply going to be a must for everyone. It's amazing and there's nothing else to say. "

- Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher
Midwest Record Recap
April, 2004