I want brass and I will alliterate to get it
May 31, 2010 3:45 PM   Subscribe

What are some big, bombastic brass bands that will blow out my brains?

I don't mean swing bands, or even "big bands". I want as much brass as possible blasting loud vibrations in my direction.

I developed this craving after listening to a few recordings of marching bands performing, but I have no records of that sort, so I greatly welcome that. But I know very little about brass music in general (versus music focused on woodwinds/string/percussion/electronics), so if there's anything extraordinary that I should stop living without it, I'm game.
posted by Rory Marinich to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Kocani Orkestar, a gypsy brass band from Macedonia.
posted by Emanuel at 4:01 PM on May 31, 2010

Big names: Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Tower of Power
Some ones in my area that I enjoy: Half Ton Horns, Po'Boys Brass Band
posted by knile at 4:03 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rebirth and Dirty Dozen from New Orleans can shake the room.
posted by metajc at 4:08 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Amazon has some samples of "I Only Have Eyes for You," the first album by Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy.

Later Brass Fantasy records seemed to focus more heavily on pop covers, in case you wanted to hear four trumpets, two trombones, one french horn, and a drummer cover Thriller.
posted by aiko at 4:23 PM on May 31, 2010

Do you like ska, by any chance? Horns aplenty, and some pretty good music to boot. If you go back to first wave ska, you'll find stuff like Toots and the Maytals, Prince Buster, and the Skatalites. Second wave stuff like the Specials, the English Beat and Madness. Third wave is more punk inflected, but there's some fantastic stuff out there. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones actually had a pretty fantastic horn section, same with Fishbone, and other bands like Reel Big Fish, as does Less Than Jake. Some Japanese ska is pretty horntastic, especially the aptly named Tokyo Paradise Ska Orchestra, Ore Ska Band, and Kemuri.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:31 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

After seeing someone mention it on AskMe, I've been pushing the fantastically brass Boban Markovic to everyone I know. My favourite is Balkan Fest.
posted by Paragon at 4:34 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Boban Markovic is incredible. Their Blown Away To Dancefloor Heaven is one of the giddiest things I've ever heard.

Ska I'm hot-and-cold with. I like Streetlight Manifesto, particularly live; the rest sometimes comes off as too goofy (except for the Aquabats, who were so goofy they transcend), but I'll give some of the names I don't know a try.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:42 PM on May 31, 2010

Seconding Rebirth and Dirty Dozen. I've never listened to their albums, but they are amazing live.
posted by tryniti at 5:13 PM on May 31, 2010

Seconding the Boban Markovic Orkestar. Be sure to check out their Live in Belgrade album, which gives a great sense of their wonderful live performances.

Another good Balkan brass band with internationally available CDs is Fanfare Ciocarlia from Romania.

Also, look for music from the Guca music festival, which is the largest Balkan / Rom (Gypsy) brass band festival in the world. There are a few compilations featuring music from the festival (one, two).

In the US, look for Zlatne Uste and Raya Brass Band, two New York-based brass bands that play Balkan brass music.

For Indian brass bands, check out the Shyam Brass Band, Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, and the Bollywood Brass Band.

Although not strictly limited to brass music, Ethiopian pop music has incorporated some great brass band elements. Search for "brass" on this page.
posted by ciocarlia at 5:14 PM on May 31, 2010

The United House of Prayer for All People's trombone shout bands have what you're looking for - if you're in D.C. on a hot summer night, stop by Dupont Circle and look for the Madison Lively Stones (you can hear them for blocks in every direction!)
posted by ryanshepard at 5:16 PM on May 31, 2010

Check out What Cheer? Brigade from Providence, RI. Saiyan Re Saiyan, a cover of an old Asha Bhosle song, is a particular favorite.
posted by Kattullus at 5:22 PM on May 31, 2010

The Nutley Brass does fun covers of punk bands.
posted by cazoo at 5:40 PM on May 31, 2010

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Seriously, they have what you need. I think their live albums are better than the studio ones.
posted by stinker at 5:41 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Marching bands! you want marching bands! This is my favorite, right now:


I'm in one, but, alas, no brass.... but we have a theremin!
posted by alex_skazat at 5:57 PM on May 31, 2010

if you're not averse to trombones, there's always bonerama. (and here's some bonerama music for memorial day.)
posted by msconduct at 6:07 PM on May 31, 2010

you might like this
posted by Aubergine at 6:20 PM on May 31, 2010

Seconding What Cheer? Brigade and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

You might like Afrobeat, too.
posted by box at 6:32 PM on May 31, 2010

Our lovely University of Wisconsin Marching Band has many fine CDs for your enjoyment.

How about drum corps? Lucky you, going right into prime competition season! Even luckier, you're near The Cadets, who are one of the older and better corps. There are loads of events, and they're a great way to spend a summer evening as the sun sets over a stadium.

Some awesome brass-heavy classical music: well, pretty much anything on any sort of "Heavy Classix" album is full of fanfares, tubas, trumpets, all that. In terms of music history, you're looking at stuff from at least the middle of the 19th century, as that's when orchestras really expanded. Wagner, Richard Strauss, Mahler, Mussorgsky, etc. are all usually pretty ginormous in their orchestrations. Berlioz (of Symphonie fantastique/"March to the Scaffold" fame) was a bit earlier, but still very bombastic. Anyone with multiple tubas (in Berlioz's case, four separate brass ensembles, one on each corner of the stage) rocks :)
posted by Madamina at 6:55 PM on May 31, 2010

Mucca Pazza is a lot of fun to see live. They have some recordings, too. They played Conan O'Brien's live show in Chicago when he took Late Night on the road a few years ago. Having trouble finding a clip of it...
posted by auntietennis at 6:57 PM on May 31, 2010

Another vote for Fanfare Ciocarlia.
posted by avianism at 7:10 PM on May 31, 2010

Bill Chase, he of Chase.
posted by pts at 7:21 PM on May 31, 2010

hot 8 brass band - sexual healing
posted by kimyo at 1:26 AM on June 1, 2010

Even better than marching bands are drum corps!
posted by theRussian at 6:09 AM on June 1, 2010

Youngblood Brass Band has the hardest working trombones and sousaphone I have ever witnessed, and I'm a band geek from way back.
posted by scarykarrey at 9:24 AM on June 1, 2010

N-thing drum corps. If there's one based near you, find out where they practice (usually a high school athletic field) for maximum proximity to brain-blowing brass (and drums).
posted by dust of the stars at 10:11 AM on June 1, 2010

Um, BLAST! Duh. Purchase the DVD. Smoke joint. Watch DVD. Allow your mind to be blown with brass and unison. Seriously.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2010

Thirding (I think) Drum and Bugle Corps. As stated above, this is the competition season, and there are loads of live events all summer. One of the biggest shows of the season is in Allentown, PA. It is a two-day event: Friday and Saturday, August 6-7. As a bonus, this is one of the last shows before Championships, so everyone will be performing at their peak.

You can check out drum corps on wikipedia (and youtube!) to get an idea of what we're talking about. World Class corps generally have 80-90 brass players, 30-40 percussionists, and 30-40 flags/rifles/sabres/dancers. They are big and LOUD.

Different corps have different musical identities. The Blue Devils play jazz shows, while Phantom Regiment has traditionally performed classical music. These are just two examples. You can memail me if you want more information.

In addition to youtube and live shows, Drum Corps International sells many CDs and DVDs, and individual corps sell recordings as well.
posted by sleepinglion at 10:22 AM on June 1, 2010

How about the Hungry March Band? I caught them at random once, 20 musicians following a wedding couple, walking through the back streets of Brooklyn, on their way to get married (and a crowd of random onlookers who had tagged along). They're once one of a new wave of activist street bands. Somerville, MA has an annual festival called HONK! where many of them play over a weekend. The webiste has a list of all the bands that have played their which should provide fertile grounds for exploration.

The UK has it's own brass band tradition (centered around mining communities in particular). It might be a little staid for what you want (but maybe not). 1997 however saw a collaboration between the Fairey Brass B and artist Jeremy Dellar called Acid Brass -- a series of arrangements of Acid House Anthems.

(Searching for Acid brass, led to stumble across Gugen Music, a carnival band tradition, originally from Switzerland, including this Metallica cover).

I'd also heartily second the recommendations for the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, the Bollywood Brass Band and the Youngblood brass band. I've seen them all play and they all knocked my socks off. (I had exactly the same thoughts about the latter as scarykarrey).
posted by tallus at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2010

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