Brian Olive — Left Side Rock
Think high cooing vocals and airy harmonies above bluesy, gum-smacking grooves that simmer and shimmer, augmented on phenomenal cuts like “Back Sliding Soul” by arrangements full of ear candy — underwater boogie piano, rump-rocking percussion, shrapnel blasts of rubbery guitar and greasy sax and Esquivel-like electro-doinkage (wait, is that really a bagpipe?).
Brian Olive already had an impressive career working with some of the more notable figures on the Midwest garage rock and punk blues scene before he reinvented himself with his first solo album in 2009. An Indiana native, Olive got his start in music when he was in high school, playing guitar in a band called Us and Them that would evolve into the celebrated garage rock combo the Greenhornes. Olive appeared on the group’s first two albums, 1999’s Gun for You and 2000’s The Greenhornes, but parted ways with the band to focus his energies on another project, the Soledad Brothers, formed by two fellow Ohioans, Johnny Wirick (aka Johnny Walker) and Ben Smith (aka Ben Swank). Olive relocated to Detroit with the band and, like his new bandmates, adopted a stage name, Oliver Henry, the Soledad Brothers struck up a friendship with Jack White, whose group the White Stripes were just starting to earn some local buzz, and White produced the band’s self-titled debut album (with his partner Meg White helping out on percussion). “Henry Oliver” played keyboards, guitar, sax, and flute with the band, but after recording the Soledad Brothers’ second album, Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move, he parted ways with the band and left the Midwest looking for a new musical direction. Reclaiming the name Brian Olive, he decided he wanted to form a band where he would call the shots, and relocated to Cincinnati, where he helped set up a recording studio in the former vault of a pawnshop and began working up material with a handful of like-minded musicians. The sessions evolved into Olive’s self-titled debut album, released in June 2009, which found him exploring blues, R&B, jazz, garage rock, and psychedelia with equal degrees of skill and eclecticism. The sophomore release Two of Everything followed in 2011, with Olive and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys sharing production duties. Olive is now producing artists such as Electric Citizen and Daniel Wayne, as well as releasing his own solo albums. His “Move” EP is due out Summer 2014.