In 2012, Sean Huber, best known as the drummer of Modern Baseball, put together a little solo project called Steady Hands. This project served as a raw and honest outlet for Huber, who played with nothing more than an acoustic guitar. Two years later, his main band has gained a devoted and growing national following, but Huber has still found time to bring back Steady Hands. This time around, he and six others have worked to put together the Brandy of the Damned EP. While it is sure to draw comparisons to Huber’s work in Modern Baseball, this EP holds its own as a solid folk/punk affair.
His main project may be known for mopey, emotional songs with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but Huber shows us a more mature side of himself on Brandy of the Damned. This is evident from the second the Springsteen-inspired, Heartland riffs of “Pretty Good Year” kick in. Huber’s vocals are a step up from those of his Modern Baseball counterpart, Brandon Lukens, but Huber’s style isn’t suited for the self-loathing emo of Modern Baseball. His gruff and polished voice complements the tightly arranged pieces like “Fragile Heart”, which utilize all seven members effectively to create a finely tuned sound and aesthetic.
Aside from its dramatic one-minute opener, Brandy of the Damned is filled with strong and engaging folk/punk melodies. The lyrics are decidedly more mature than anything on a Modern Baseball record, with narratives told from the first-person about life on the road among other topics. Like with most side projects, Huber’s experiments with Steady Hands are a little too outlandish for the average Modern Baseball song, but that is not to say they are complete departures. The closer, “Skin and Bones”, wouldn’t feel out of place on a Modern Baseball album as the slightly mopey lyrics, harmonies, and occasional yells make this uptempo rocker a satisfying conclusion to this solid EP.
Steady Hands will definitely be held side-by-side with Modern Baseball. Based on this EP, they can put up a solid fight against MB’s two full-lengths. That being said, it’s unfair to compare either one to the other. On Brandy of the Damned, Steady Hands shows us a more mature and polished sound, drawing from a wide variety of rock and punk influences. It is sure to appeal to Modern Baseball fans for its lively and energetic sound, as well as a whole new group of alternative and punk fans.