When you think of bagpipes, traditional Scottish/Celtic music is the first thing that comes to mind. But there is no law stating that a traditional instrument has to be used in a traditional fashion. Just as Earth, Wind & Fire could make the African kalimba sound perfectly logical in a soul/funk setting, Brother demonstrates that bagpipes can, in fact, be relevant to alternative pop/rock. Recorded live at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA on April 7, 2000, This Way Up is hardly a traditional Scottish/Celtic recording. Thoughtful, U2-influenced gems like "Rainmaker," "Fly Away," and "Blackest of Blue" definitely fall into the pop/rock category, although Celtic overtones make them all the more appealing. And Brother isn't even from Scotland; the band is Australian and celebrates Australia's musical heritage with the use of the didgeridoo -- an easily recognizable instrument that is associated with the Aboriginal tribe. Known for its very deep sound, the instrument is seldom heard alongside bagpipes. But when Brother unites the two with rock's usual guitar/bass/drums instrumentation, the interesting combination of instruments sounds perfectly natural and organic -- not pretentious. This Way Up is a CD that both pop/rock and world music enthusiasts should make a point of obtaining.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson