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Brownish Black / Press

“While it could be quite the challenge to develop your own sound within the lexicon of classic soul and r&b, Brownish Black seem both worthy and excited about the task at hand. Formed in 2010 the band has been growing in numbers and evolving their neo-soul sound that could easily be found on NYC goldmine label Daptone (home to Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Charles Bradley etc). With a slender and soulful white male leading the raucous r&b they could also be mistaken for pop soul darlings Fitz & the Tantrums. Yet comparisons aside Brownish Black are unique to Portland and are striving to forge their own path. Given the somewhat challenging position of filling an empty dance floor with Portlanders who just finished a workweek, Brownish Black brought their high energy and infectious rhythms to the opening slot Friday night at the eclectic (read underrated) Star Theater. Seattle based psyche-afro-funk outfit Polyrhythmics were headliners. Playing a mix of music from their previous EP’s as”

Greg LeMeiux - The Deli Portland

“With the seriously soulful octet's debut album so close you can taste it, just know Brownish Black are a force to be reckoned with. And while Life Lessons is due out in exactly one week on June 16 via Portland's Breakup Records, you can feel their powerful presence in the most intimate of settings as they celebrate the record's release at the Goodfoot on Thursday, June 11 with dark soul rockers Thanks. To get you in the mood for a sweaty night of garage soul, band leader MD Sharbatz will whet your appetite with "an anti-love song." "Fight It" is "about freedom and independence and trying hard to resist emotional attachment," he explains. "It's also a fantasy because that's damn near impossible. It's a protest song about living life against the expectations of others, which is very easy: You just have to be pissed and speak your mind. Also, the song is not gender specific. There's always more freedom to take back." While the band will surely be expressing themselves freely and speaking”

Chris Young - Vortex Music Magazine

“Don’t call it a throwback. On its debut LP, Life Lessons, Brownish Black is a band serrating the edges of soul music. Sure, the blend of R&B and funk might sound old-school, but when compared to contemporaries like Nick Waterhouse or the Daptone Records crew, the Portland octet’s aggressive sound is less a pristine mirror of decades past than a forceful projection of the places the idiom can be taken. In the case of this album, that place is the garage. Detroit native M.D. Sharbatz’s hardcore punk roots show in the record’s raw sound. The horns waver, and Sharbatz is more apt to bark and quiver than straighten his voice into a smooth croon. But throughout Life Lessons, Brownish Black proves capable of producing thick grooves at near-Stax levels of competency. Many tracks take unexpected turns: the ascending swell in “Singing a Song”; the sudden spaghetti Western drop in “Le Systeme”; the Family Stone-style a cappella handclap break in “Making Time.” If the goal of L”

Ted Jamison - Willamette Week

““Life Lessons” is Portland’s soul outfit, Brownish Black’s debut LP. In releasing said LP, Brownish Black has successfully justified the most “bohemian” act I’ve ever witnessed, starting an octet, soul band, with garage roots, in Portland, and partnering with an indie label. Though this album is one fixed gear short of a Portlandia sketch, the results are a truly wonderful; with a medley of well-crafted songs culminating in some of the best brass work in an album in recent memory. With a strong start to the album, “Life Lesson” pulsates out a feeling of comfortability; a lively jazz club is conjured up in my head (possibly in New Orleans, but definitely somewhere humid), as wetness drapes the faces on stage, dancing breaks out. This is all done in the first few seconds of the song; I have to give some sort of praise to a group talented enough to build a narrative in the preliminary moments of an album. Most of the songs on the album have this dynamic quality to them; ”

Theo Rodeno - Jolt Radio