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My Silent Bravery – Are You Prepared?
March 23, 2010

A few years ago I reviewed Matt Shwachman’s “Uncharted Territory”. It was Shwachman’s sophomore release and in the process of evolving and growing in the past few years the Matt Shwachman Band changed its name to My Silent Bravery. Same initials, but a new name, and with it comes a brand new album, titled “Are You Prepared?”

“Uncharted Territory” was an impressive album and what struck me most was the intelligent songwriter and dedication to the musical arrangements. Shwachman proved to be a talented songwriter and musician, and by collecting similarly dedicated musicians around him the sound evolved to more of a full band sound which suits the creativity and dynamics of the music very well.

While the previous album had an alternative pop edge it was still very suited for the mainstream audience. On “Are You Prepared?” My Silent Bravery continues that trend even though there is a more prominent use of music effects, synthesizer and generated beats. If you had to put a genre label on this I think danceable alternative pop would come closest. The majority of the songs on this album are very catchy and have a good beat to move to. Initially I wasn’t very sure about the commercial potential of this album, but after a few listens I keep hearing more and more songs that could do quite well in advertizing, on the radio and maybe even in tv shows or movies. Lead off track Not Necessarily So is a good example of that and so is Always Waiting.

There is one little point of criticism though. Shwachman has very strong vocals, excellent even, but with all the music coming from all sides (so to speak) you get distracted from these vocals. Luckily there are a few tracks where you can still hear those excellent vocals quite well. Runaway, the potential hit single Smoke and title track Are You Prepared? (which makes an amazing live song) in particular come to mind.

This mix between a more current (at times almost cross-over) sound and yet not completely letting go of the radio-friendly mainstream sound that worked so well on the previous release is an interesting step. It means that you won’t necessarily get into “Are You Prepared?” if you were a fan of “Uncharted Territory”, though if you give yourself a little time you will find that “Are You Prepared?” is a pretty logical next step in the band’s evolution. Everything does come together soundwise and it speaks for the band that they don’t just try to copy their previous success. Keep evolving, keep trying and if you keep up the quality (and My Silent Bravery succeeds in that department) you will get the opportunities you deserve. And I believe that in time, My Silent Bravery will most definitely be presented with plenty of opportunities.

“Are You Prepared?” is an interesting and strong follow-up to “Uncharted Territory” and an album that can stand its own. It might not be the breakout album yet, but if it isn’t, it definitely paves the way for this band to breakout sooner rather than later.

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