Jason Newsted isn't EchoBrain's bass player anymore, and that's probably a good thing. While notices for the band's 2002 debut were generally strong, the famously angry-faced rock vet's involvement tended to hog the spotlight, overshadowing what was some solid songwriting from youngsters Dylan Donkin (vocals/guitar) and Brian Sagrafena (drums). For Glean, Newsted has exited, replaced by Dylan's brother Adam Donkin. Guitarist/keyboardist Adam Garcia has joined up, too, and together the quartet spins a sunny, slightly psychedelic, post-grunge web. Sometimes, like during the brief, acoustic-based shuffle of "Knock 'Em Out," EchoBrain sounds like Soundgarden covering Donovan. Part of that is due to Donkin's vocals. He has the throaty bellow down pat; however, he brings a soulful mellowing to the proceedings, ensuring that harder-edged material like "Jellyneck," "Your Sold," and "Hardheaded Woman" (there's that Donovan phrasing again) don't become exercises in whose biceps are bigger. So it's true the band can rock, but Glean is much more comfortable in the hazy sunshine. "Heroic Dose" follows meandering lines of watery slide guitar over magical mystery synthesizers and stoned percussion. "I think I touched the source today," Donkin slurs, and as clichéd as the lyric is, you believe him. "Seven Seconds" drops chattering child samples into an airy post-Alice in Chains meditation, and standout "Beat as We Go" returns to warm positivity. "It shines like love as we burn," EchoBrain sings over fuzzy Love guitar, and vintage San Francisco scents fill the air like incense. Other highlights include the distorted thump of "Out of Reach" and "Modern Science"'s lilting acoustic breeze. Ghosts of varying reference certainly inhabit Glean, but they're like pleasantly aimless granola kids who stay on for the summer -- you can't stay mad at their presence because they smile and make great hummus.
by Johnny Loftus