Rebecca Ryskalczyk – We’re Brothers (Demo Stream)
by Steven Spoerl
A lot’s happened over the past few days; some coverage has been delayed due to a duo of outstanding live shows. One of those shows (Jason Isbell’s incredible, moving set at Prospect Park earlier tonight) won’t receive a mention on this site beyond what was just written. The other, an intimate all-acoustic rooftop affair spearheaded by site favorite Johanna Warren, will surface in a visual spread sometime in the very near future. With both of those now in the past, it’s time to bring the site back up to the current release cycle.
In the interest of time, the artists that had interesting releases throughout the three main formats (single stream, full stream, and music video) will simply be listed without explanation as to what’s attached to their name. The vast majority of these were released two days ago and all of them are worth the click. Life’s surprising sometimes, so why not embrace the opportunity to provide a low-level risk and high-level payoff? There were the artists responsible for those treasures: Infinity Girl, HSY, O, Rrest, Futurebirds, Slonk Donkerson, Say Hi, Chelsea Wolfe, Steep Leans (x2), Cold Specks, Here We Go Magic, and EZTV.
Today’s feature piece actually comes from a few weeks back but hasn’t really shown up anywhere outside of its own release. It comes from the solo project of Bethlehem Steel‘s driving voice, Rebecca Ryskalcyzk. While the emerging songwriter’s still playing shows with her own vehicle, she’s also generously offering two new songs under her own name. Released under the title We’re Brothers, the pair of songs are arresting bare-bones guitar/vocal demos that have something inherently special happening at their core.
While it’s difficult to describe what exactly that is, it’s painfully obvious when the songs are in motion. “Brain Drugs” starts the small collection off and immediately sets the tone for what’s to follow; haunted, lo-fi, folk-leaning tapestries that seem to be settling in with their own demons rather than pushing for an escape. As mesmerizing as it is downtrodden, “Brain Drugs”- the opening track- is an intensely arresting piece of work that sets up the latter number perfectly (while also recalling, both in style and tone, one of the year’s best covers).
“Other Otters” follows, maintaining the deeply bruised feeling that lent its predecessor an acute sense of devastation. It’s a jarring sequence that drives a knife home in a powerful couplet towards the end: “the less I try/the more I’m terrified”- a perfect summation of a potentially damaging penchant for indecision. Ryskalyczk riddles both songs with a series of gut-punches that seem to be rooted in life’s minutiae while still managing to keep an eye on the big picture. It’s an impressive feat and an even more impressive collection.
Towards the bottom of Ryskalczyk’s bandcamp page that hosts this release, there’s a disclaimer that these songs will be “re-recorded for something more” and when that release rolls around, it’ll likely be worth a slew of purchases. Until they do surface, though, these demos carry more than enough weight to approach an unlikely perfection.
Listen to We’re Brothers below and pick it up over on bandcamp. Keep an eye on this site for more updates on both Ryskalyczk and Bethlehem Steel.