Drops: The Belle Brigade's debut album
There's a doe-eyed innocence to everything about L.A.'s The Belle Brigade that makes their sun-kissed '70s SoCal sound even more appealing.
That's pretty clear, even before the delightfully Simon-and-
Garfunkel-ish harmonies of the first single, "Losers" -- with its Zen opening lyric, "There will always be someone better than you, even if you're the best" -- or the Lindsay Buckingham-ish counting-of-blessings, "Lucky Guy."
Brother-sister duo Ethan and Barbara Gruska, children of songwriter Jay Gruska and grandchildren of composer John Williams, fill their eponymous debut, "The Belle Brigade" (Reprise), with so many sweet moments, all accented with their tight harmonies.
Their inspirations are pretty clear. "Where Not to Look for Freedom" could pass for a long lost track from Fleetwood Mac's landmark "Rumours" album if the Gruskas didn't sound so darn happy as they approximate the memorable harmonies of Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. "My Goodness" introduces some estrogen into the soaring vocals of The Eagles, while the bluesy, piano-driven "Fasten You to Me" struts around like the Elton John incarnation of that era.
Barbara Gruska has clearly learned a bit about modernizing classic sounds from her time as Jenny Lewis' drummer, weaving all this peaceful-easy-feeling retro into something fresh and new.
The result is so polished and well crafted that The Belle Brigade doesn't just establish itself as one of the year's breakout stars, it also becomes a Grammy contender for next year's best new artist.
'The Belle Brigade'
THE GRADE A-
BOTTOM LINE Sunny siblings restyle '70s rock