Might As Well
-To Whom, Brother-

2002 is shaping up to be the year that many of Fort Wayne's established bands unleash shiny discs full of magical sounds. Might As Well, which is closing in on a full decade of entertaining the downtrodden of Allen County, has released To Whom, Brother, their third recording venture. Recorded and produced by John Gillespie at Monastic Chambers, this release captures the energy and trippy, jam-based sound of this local quintet.

What stands out most for Might As Well is the inclusion of a viola player (Felix Moxter) who refuses to play second fiddler (um, bass fiddle?) to any guitarist. "Fantasy In Green" is a prime example where the viola is front and center throughout the entire song. Aside from a couple of short verses, the song is one extended viola jam, capably backed by Greg Lass on guitar (Rich Cook says hi), Rich Lee on drums, and Murray Moothry on bass. A bluesy guitar riff introduces "WYISWYG" where vocalist Jim Martin gets to show off his pipes amid extended guitar solos and symphonic rhythms from the viola. The longest track, at a mere 12:18, is the aptly named "Long Road". The first step of the journey begins with mysterious rhythms in the bass and drums, eventually joined by an evocative guitar solo. Six minutes into the adventure things get really interesting with some spacey guitar effects that open the door to more extended solo passages between the guitar and viola. With a prominent viola and late 60s vibe, "Pathway" is another excellent track with an intro that reminds me of an early progressive band by the name of Glass Harp. Other tracks include such concert favorites as "Catechism of the Undead", "Polyester Lightning", and the rambling, rollicking "Pirates".

With six of the ten songs clocking in at over six minutes (the shortest of the remaining four being a trite 4:35), it's easy to see how Might As Well gets defined as a jam band. To Whom, Brother captures their natural, flowing rhythm and the energy of their live performances. These guys love to create music with each other and this infectious enthusiasm has been magically encapsulated on these ten tracks. This latest release proves why local fans of Phish, Dark-Side-era Pink Floyd, and Blues Traveler already know that Might As Well is the band to catch for quality weekend entertainment.

This review first appeared in WhatzUp, January 2002.