Reviews of -Harmony Of Passing Light
NO DEPRESSION: Grant Britt
Even if you’ve never heard of Brad Brooks, if you’re a gamer, you’ve heard him. That’s him on Guitar Hero II doing the Stones “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” and “Strutter” by KISS; on Karaoke Revolution (NTSC) covering the Black Crowes’ “She Talks To Angels.” You can also find him doing Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on A Prayer” and the Stones “Paint It Black” on Karoake Revolution Presents American Idol Encore 2.
The Tuscon raised, Bay area-based singer/guitarist’s originals are just as impressive. For his third outing, Brooks flavors his pop with a ’70s sensibility, stirring in influences from the Beatles to Hall and Oates. “Calling Everyone” is reminiscent of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes whipping up the crowd at the Stone Pony into a sweaty frenzy. There’s plenty of Beatles influences sprinkled throughout. Brooks shouts frantically like John Lennon in his Plastic Ono Band days over industrial psychedelic guitar shredding on “Spinner and the Spun.” “Steal My Disarray” sounds like George Harrison crooning over his weepy guitar. T“Exemplary Girl” could be an unlikely pairing of Paul McCartney duetting with Hall and Oates; “Will It Be Enough” sounds like Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy accompanied by Harrison on guitar. But this is no nostalgia celebration, no retro shmoozefest. Although many of his instrumental influences may be based on soothing melodies from the past, Brooks’ lyrics are gritty and down to earth. “Mephistopheles, I ain’t no sucka.” he barks on “Spinner and the Spun,” “Evil doesn’t even know that it is/ it’s a race between the spinner and the spun.” If you insist on labeling Brooks, pop revisionist is the best fit. In his hands, pop is taken out of the puberty market and made suitable for listeners with a little more life experience.
MUSIC NEW NASHVILLE: Chuck Dauphin
There isn’t much – if anything – that Bay area native Brad Brooks can’t do. He can sing, play, and write, and he can do each rather well. To pigeon-hole him into one corner genre-wise would be the most difficult thing. At times, he’s Alternative, or maybe a little Rock. No, on third thought, make that a little bit Country, or do you call him Americana? That might work, because if you can’t classify something in a 4+4 box musically, the latter description fits the bill, right?
The opener, “Calling Everyone,” has a very cool 60s musical vibe, and Brooks knocks it out of the ballpark. The guitar work on this sounds like something straight out of 1960s Detroit, and it’s a treat from start to finish. The next cut, “Steal My Disarray,” has somewhat of a 70s California vibe to it, thanks to some haunting steel licks from Paul Hoaglin.
Other standouts include the pop-laden “Hope Is That I Got You,” which deserves a shot at Top 40 and AAA radio, as well as the harmony-loaded “Will It Be Enough,” which is such an incredible track, thanks to the background vocals of Hoaglin.
Honestly, though you might not be able to label it, I think you’ll enjoy this. A lot!
POP CULTURE CLASSICS: Paul Freeman
Prepare to be dazzled. Brooks’ brand of power pop deserves widespread attention and acclaim. He’s wondrously winning and versatile, both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. Backed by terrific musicians, he delivers 11 tunes that grab the listener right from the intro and become more deeply ingrained with each listening. He opens with the soulfully celebratory “Calling Everyone,” merging the energies of Big Star and Van Morrison. “Spinner & The Spun” is a mover you’ll want to keep spinning. “Will It Be Enough” has the kind of aching country-rock magic that Foster & Lloyd used to conjure, with a bit of a Gram Parsons’ lilt. “Night Fades” is the kind of lushly lovely composition and production Jeff Lynne used to do so well. “Farewell to Folderol” is another beauty, and one of the all-time great song titles. Throughout, Brooks summons Beatles vibes, building on McCartney’s rocking hooks, Harrison’s fluid guitar lines and Lennon’s psychedelic flourishes. There are suggestions of Nilsson, as well. The final number, “Grand Manner,” lowers the curtain in gorgeous style. Brooks is an exceptionally literate songwriter, fashioning highly sophisticated pop. You won’t find a weak track here – each is an expertly crafted work. Despite all the classic rock influences, Brooks’ music takes many surprising turns, making it his and his alone. It’s unfathomable why he remains a cult figure while far lesser talents squander the spotlight. Do yourself a favor and discover this amazing album.
LEICESTER BANGS UK: Rob Forbes
I can never understand why the ability to craft catchy grown-up pop songs is so underrated. Are we so musically sophisticated that we no longer have the capacity to enjoy the simple things done well? For example, take Brad Brooks. He’s been producing great pop music since the ‘90s, releasing a string of excellent albums, yet fame and fortune have so far proved elusive, and it’s a mystery as to why.
“Harmony Of Passing Light” retains his high standards, and begins with an absolute doozy. “Calling Everyone” combines Chilton-esque country-soul, urban sass, the sort of hooks that McCartney probably owns the rights to, and a walking melody that only extensive psycho-therapy will ever remove from the subconscious. It’s reason enough, all on its own, to warrant further investigation, but it’s just one of the many delights “Harmony Of Passing Light” has to offer. “Spinner & The Spun” hits like the best thing that INXS never recorded, whilst it simultaneously betters everything they did actually record. Of course it’s not all wham bam thank you mam; “Will It Be Enough” slows things down, but with plenty of tension to keep you on the edge of your seat, and “Farewell To Folderol” unfurls itself over six minutes, applying and relaxing pressure before peaking with two minutes of harmonic ecstasy.
POWERPOPAHOLIC: Aaron Kupferberg
Brooks has always been a talented, melodically obsessive, and cynical musician who wears his heart on his sleeve, much like Roger Klug or Chris Von Sneidern but sometimes going overboard when it came to song construction. I’m happy to say that on his third album, Harmony of a Passing Light – Brooks nails it here with a perfect combo of influences and original compositions. Starting out with “Calling Everyone,” Brad evokes the spirit and soul of Daryl Hall and his vocal never sounded better. “Steal My Disarray” is a stunner of a tune with echoes of Joe Jackson and led by awesome slide guitar by Paul Hoaglin. And it just gets better…
“The Spinner & The Spun” is a powerful rocker with a driving beat and swaggering rhythm – here Brad radiates awesome coolness with the lead guitar solo by Paul Hoaglin. The haunting harmonies of “Night Fades” starts out and the beautiful chorus wrap it up with a shimmering sitar lead. A few slower country themed songs about rebellion (“Farewell To Foderol”) and addiction (“Will It Be Enough”) are also noteworthy. More gems include “Exemplary Girl” and the dramatic “Grand Manner.” Brad breaks into this years top 10 nomination with this effort, and fans of emotional rock and roll will love it.
POWER OF POP: Kevin Mathews
RE-INVENTING THE CLASSICS: I am going to cut to the chase. If you love sophisticated music-making that draws from the deep well of 60s and 70s classic pop-rock, then you must get yourself a copy of Brad Brook‘s new LP – Harmony of Passing Light. Brooks is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who may well have delivered the finest album of his life. Well certainly, Brooks’ album will sit comfortably alongside his avowed influences viz. Elvis Costello, Wilco, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Queen. What truly shines through is the sheer range of styles and ‘genres’ that Brooks employs – nothing is utilized for effect alone – instead, every stylistic choice enhances the strong songwriting in evidence.
Imagine your favourite 60s and 70s music being distilled into a heady brew that is at once sweet and sharp and you might just have a grasp of what Brooks has achieved here. My personal favourites (and believe me, I am digging every single track) would include the opening authentic R&B-inflected “Calling Everyone”. The sitar embellishment keeps the pop footing steady as Brook’s blue-eyed soul evocation of the likes of Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall is a distinctive joy to behold. High on my list as well is the baroque “Night Fades” with its Zombies/Left Banke-referencing chamber pop twists and turns. The banjo and string quartet arrangements do turn one’s mind to Brian Wilson’s singular music visions though, it must be said. No mean feat!
Elsewhere, “Exemplary Girl” brings Beatlesque psychedelic rock channeling to its logical conclusion with melodic hooks coming at you left, right and centre, in particular the revolving violins! The obligatory faux-classical piano ballad comes at the end with “Grand Manner” but true to the 70s singer-songwriter tradition, this comes with genuine pathos and an erudite charm that will stir hearts and place lump firmly in throat.
Believe me, folks, the delights come at every milestone on this brilliant album. No exaggeration to say in an age of throwaway pop, Brooks has concocted a mini pop masterpiece that gives true pop music lovers that there may still be hope for us yet. Essential listening.
INDIE ROUND-UP: Jon Sobel
It’s nice when an unpromising-looking CD in my always-too-big pile of unsolicited discs turns out to be a pleasant surprise. On the new release from San Francisco’s Brad Brooks, the package front cover doesn’t have the name of the artist or album, and the album name, once you find it, proves both obscure and pretentious-sounding. But much of this dense, complex pop album won me over.
The Motown-esque “Calling Everyone” starts things off by showing off Brooks’s rich, energetic tenor and flair for strong melodies and colorful arrangements. “Spinner and the Spun” is a modified modern blues with a decidedly unbluesy focus on the snarly flatted fifth. “Will It Be Enough” layers ’60s-style vocal harmonies on a simple pop-rock foundation dotted with George Harrison-esque guitar fills.
I like the wailing saw on the slow, atmospheric “Farewell to Folderol.” The catchy “Exemplary Girl,” probably my favorite track, suggests vintage David Bowie in both its metallic sound and its androgynous subject matter, and the high emotion of the melodic “Hope Is That I Got You” almost brings Freddie Mercury to mind.
“Bumbelina” with its countryish pedal steel has a warm charm to it, though I couldn’t make head or tail of the meaning. (“As years roll by your face value runs out of time” – huh?) Lyrics with more art to them would have added a dimension to the disc, but the art here is in the music, and there’s nothing pretentious or precious about these 11 well-constructed numbers. In some spots I didn’t care for the production, like the intrusively loud guitar fills in “Steal My Disarray” and the wooden beat detracting from the fine melodies of “Night Fades.” But all in all, the disc is a great-sounding if flawed effort.
MUSOSCRIBE: Bill Kopp
Somehow the name and the cover art led me to think this would be c&w singer/songwriter stuff. Lesson: don’t judge an album by its cover. There’s twang here for sure, but it’s as likely as not to come from an electric sitar. Making highly accessible, appealing music of the sort that recalls John Hiatt and Nick Lowe, Brooks’ album is a hooky, catchy affair that folds in r&b, soul and rock influences; he sounds a bit like a modern day Box Tops. “Calling Everyone” deserves hit status, and the other ten expertly-played and -arranged tracks are pretty swell, too.
When he’s not recording videogame music or singing the national anthem at San Francisco Giants games, Brad Brooks is crafting the kind of timeless sophisticated pop revisionism that disciples of Harry Nilsson and Badfinger can dig. His third studio album, Harmony of Passing Light, opens with the cleverly arranged “Calling Everyone,” a snappy ditty wherein he grafts psychedelic West Coast grooves onto an East Coast template cut by Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. And without getting into full Fab Four worship, hints of The Beatles’ influence are sprinkled throughout. Check out “Steal My Disarray,” which sounds slightly like All Things Must Pass–era George Harrison blended seamlessly into Brooks’ own stylish power pop. “Spinner & the Spun” sublimely reflects the darker period of John Lennon’s tenure with The Plastic Ono Band—especially with a subtle vocal echo and frenetic guitar shredding. And if Paul McCartney ever took on blue-eyed soul, it could very well sound something like the standout cut “Exemplary Girl.”
San Francisco’s Brad Brooks has been writing and recording music for several years now…but according to himself and others Harmony of Passing Light is his best album to date (we did not hear the others so we cannot compare and contrast). If you think all musicians living in San Fran are artsy, weird, and difficult then you may be surprised at how accessible and upbeat Brad’s songs are. Most of the tracks on this album have great potential as hit singles…and this guy has a really great resonant voice that really adds magic to the proceedings. This album has a nice timeless quality and was created using mainly traditional instruments. We can hear traces of a variety of pop/rock artists including (but not limited to) Queen, Joe Jackson, and (at times) Copeland. Housed in a beautifully designed foldout cardboard sleeve (complete with glossy lyric booklet), Harmony of Passing Light will no doubt remain in the minds of listeners for decades to come. Cool tracks include “Calling Everyone,” “Will It Be Enough,” and “Exemplary Girl.
KCSU: Jeff Shelton
Brad Brooks, a local San Francisco treasure, is one of those rare artists who has an uncanny knack for breaking, bending, and expanding the barriers of what “pop” music is all about. His previous albums tinkered with everything from psychedelia to piano pop, all peppered with hints of vaudevillian flair and singer-songwriter earnestness. This go around, Brooks has opted for bit more down-home twang and bits of quiet introspection. Sure, there are sure-fire hits like stand out single “Spinner & The Spun” a frenetic groove that mines Exile-era Stones mixed with a little T. Rex or the flourishing, harmony-laden “Night Fades”, but listeners area also treated to Brooks’ soulful crooning on the cheekily optimistic “Farewell to Folderol” and the country-tinged “Bumbelina”. From top to bottom, Harmony of Passing Light is a thoroughly satisfying listen and one of those rare records that embraces the spectrum of classicpop without blatantly wearing any one aspect of it on its sleeve.-Jeff S. (Mr. Power Pop) RIYL: Rufus Wainwright, Wilco, Ben Folds, Jeff Buckley
RELATEMAG.COM: Ellen Marie Hawkins
For the first few listens, Harmony of Passing Light is difficult to decipher. Brad’s voice, ranging from Paul McCartney to Mick Jagger to Freddie Mercury, is quite an instrument in itself, so much so that it’s hard to focus on what he’s saying. The faster tempo tracks like the opening “Calling Everyone” and “Spinner & the Spun” begs the question, who really cares what he’s singing about, sounding like that? The piano, littered throughout like leaves disturbed by the wind, is even more of a distraction. There’s a lot of soul in this, a little rock, and a lot of musical variety, which really makes for a lot to love.
But when it comes down to it, I always care what an artist is leaving up to my interpretation. What I discovered was that there’s a lot of sadness here. “Will It Be Enough?” leaves little to the imagination; it is indeed a song about drug abuse (“If all that you propose/Gets lost upside your nose”… “So fall against the grain till someone hits that vein”). “Bumbelina,” too, follows that same misery of watching someone self destruct (“All the things you didn’t wanna stop, tumbling down a mountaintop).
The one moment of clarity and a peak of happiness appear on track nine, the song “Hope is That I Got You.” When he mentions the word faith in this song, it’s the one time that I get the impression that it’s something he wants to have rather than something he’s afraid is nothing more than emptiness. “Grand Manner” is similar, but while he mentions faith, he is just as concerned that it is a disillusion (“But I can’t tell if it’s just rain/Or some kind of truth that I can tell”).
And it was indeed that amount of uncertainty that detracted, for me, at least, from the brilliance of the music. While for several listens, I wondered if it was just me who was unable to untangle Brad’s lyrics, I came to the conclusion that it was his own sadness and loss that threw me off balance. Some comfort may be found for the listener who has experienced similar life struggles for the simple fact that it’s sometimes enough to know we are not alone, the album in its entirety reflects a heartbreak that leads to mistrust, in not just people, but life’s beauty as well. As a musician, he excels at expressing himself, but as a listener who would rather cling to hope, I must ask for so much more from the music I lose myself in.
DAILY NEWS PITTSBURG “IN TUNE” : Jeffrey Sisk
San Francisco-based singer/song- writer Brad Brooks is a versatile dude and he puts his eclectic bag of tricks on display on “Harmony of Passing Light,” his long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s “Spill Collateral Love.” Brooks might not be as prolific as many of his peers, but he’s without question a talented and engaging performer.
Motown-ish opener “Calling Everyone” sets the tone for the 11-track release and after the middling “Steal My Disarray,” Brooks rocks out on first single “Spinner and the Spun,” “Bumbelina,” “Night Fades” and “Exemplary Girl.” With stellar lyrics and an enjoyable tenor voice, it’s time you got to know Brooks.
San Francisco based musician Brad Brooks is set to release Harmony of Passing Light, his first release since 2007’s Spill Collateral Love, and while there’s nothing quite like “Ex-Stripper Librarian” on the new record, it has enough quirkiness to appeal to old fans while moving the needle toward accessibility for newcomers.
The whole mess features former Cake drummer Todd Roper and is produced by Paul Hoaglin (Mother Hips) and Shay Scott (Klickitat Band Camp), along with David Simon Baker (Mother Hips, Jackie Greene, ALO).Echoes of George Harrison weeping guitar permeate material like “Steal My Disarray” while Brooks’ versatile voice drops blue-eyed soul, crooning, or twang at a moment’s notice.For a potentially weird journey, enter our contest below for your chance to win Harmony of Passing Light by Brad Brooks
IDIOGLOSSIA (Germany) : Andreas Schiffmann
ROCK TIMES (Europe) : Joachim ‘Joe’ Brookes
TRACKS (Europe) : Robert Pally
KEYS AND CHORDS (BELGIUM) : Phillip Verhaege
Reviews of -Spill Collateral Love
JamBase (Cooks Corner): Dennis Cook
Radiohead would dig Brooks. Lots. This really fine release drops out of the sky with songs that resonate like The Bends or Rufus Wainwright’s simmering 1998 debut – thoughtful tracks packed with cool instrumentation, evocative, weirdly funny lyrics and an uncanny knack for making ears prick up. Brooks’ gorgeous, powerful voice echoes Thom Yorke but has plenty of soft and jagged nuances all his own. There’s nothing timid or withdrawn about Spill, which seems drawn from a much deeper well than most stuff out there. Lay some of the credit on producer/multi-instrumentalist Paul Hoaglin (The Mother Hips/Sensations) who gives everything a lush wash worthy of Lee Hazelwood or George Martin. A nice range of moods prevails, from the handclap rush of “Lathered In Cream” to the string-boosted corridors of “Hit Me Like A Smile.” It’s easy to see this becoming someone’s favorite album. Brooks recklessly reaches into his own chest in an effort to grab your heart. Let him and you won’t be sorry.
Prime Cuts: “Ex-Stripper Librarian,” “Love On My Sleeve” – JamBase
Leicester Bangs (UK): Rob Forbes
These days, one of the benefits of being an adult is you get to enjoy a better class of pop music than the kids. It’s never been like this before. When I was a mere whippersnapper, too many years ago, I could happily sneer at the old folks listening to their crappy records, safe in the knowledge that I was plugged directly into the good stuff – and there was plenty of it to go ‘round, too. Now everything’s been turned on its head. The kids – poor bastards – get shovelled pre-packaged plinky-plonky arse gravy, and I’m still getting the quality gear. In fact, I’m having to introduce, instruct and educate my own kids in the pure unfettered joy of proper pop thrills, and today’s lesson folks is Brad Brooks. A contemporary and buddy of Chris von Sneidern (Chris, long time no hear…), Brooks is the archetypal 21st century pop maverick, beavering away with limited funds and a modest audience, but with plenty of time on his hands to get things just right. He borrows liberally from the past – think Beatles, Left Banke, Brian Wilson and some of Queen’s pomp and splendour – and completes the mix with modern influences like Rufus Wainwright and Thom Yorke at his most melodic. Needless to say, it hardly seems rocket science fusing the styles of some of the most talented and popular artists of the last 40 years, but that doesn’t quite explain why it sounds so damn good, and that so few other people seem to be doing it with quite the same zeal and, dare I say, panache. For those of you with your ears correctly tuned, I suggest that, without further delay, you check out Brooks’ MySpace page, and when you’ve agreed with everything I’ve said, purchase in the manner that suits. – Rob F.
Daily Rock (Swiss): Robert Pally
Une chose est sure avec Brad Brooks, il a un certain sens du dramatique. Scott Walker vient a l’espirit. Apres une intro theatrale, ca rock, c’est puissant et sans cliché. Après ca tourne elegamment au pop drama. Une certaine legerete attend l’auditeur au morceau suivant, “The Loon Of Altitude”, dont la fin aurait fait la joie de Tom Waits. “Hit Me Like A Smile” vient ensuite, de la pure poe`sie musicale. “Katrina Is A Bitch” sonne douncement folk, malgrè le titre, puis on a “The Sonic Twins”, un retour bienvenu à un power pop rock. Avec “Pleading Amnesia”, on a finalement une touche de Pink Floyd. Pour terminer, Brad Brooks se met seul au piano, tel un pianiste de bar quand tout le monde est parti. La derniere phrase est “When the world comes into view the world is love”.
translation into english – One thing is sure with Brad Brooks, he has a sense of drama. Scott Walker comes to mind. After a theatrical intro the music is powerful and without being cliché then elegantly turns to pop drama. A certain lightness expects the listener to the next song, “The Loon Of Altitude”, the end would have the joy of Tom Waits. “Hit Me Like A Smile” comes next, the pure musical poetry. “Katrina Is A Bitch” sounds soft folk, despite the title, followed by “The Sonic Twins”, a welcome return to power pop rock. With “Pleading Amnesia” is finally a touch of Pink Floyd. Finally, Brad Brooks goes solo piano as a piano bar when everyone is gone. The last sentence is “When The World Comes Into view the world is love.”
Absolute Powerpop: Steve Farra
And now for something completely different. Brad Brooks stretches the boundaries of power pop with Spill Collateral Love, a tour de force of different pop stylings that share the same level of inspiration. I’ve seen comparisons of Brooks to a number of different artists, with the consensus being that he’s Freddie Mercury meets Guided by Voices. There’s certainly an element of that in there, but there are several others that shine through. For example, the leadoff track “Love On My Sleeve” builds to a Rufus Wainwright via Thom Yorke crescendo that never wears out its welcome over nearly six minutes. “Lathered In Cream” is the closest to straight-ahead power pop, but it adds its own subversive GbV element as well. Other standouts include “The Loon of Altitude” (which starts off as a poppy-California-sounding ditty, only to dissolve into a “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” wall of sound, only to dissolve again into some ragtime piano with unintelligble whispers), “Francis of Alaska” (Freddy & Rufus again), the near-jangle of “The Sonic Twins”, and the 40s-style crooning of the finale “Luccurious Latitude”. Spill Collateral Love is the power pop equivalent of an art film, and although it my lack the immediate hooks that we normally deal in here, it’s worth the effort to explore. Absolute Powerpop
Power Of Pop: Kevin Matthews
An absolute dream of an album! The fecundity of Brook’s true blue pop gift will positively flood you the moment you press play. I am a sucker for eclecticism and Brooks provides variety in spades. And what blistering entertainment – from chamber pop to guitar pop to music hall to modern balladry to country-folk and so on… the instrumentation is world class: real strings illuminate the proceedings like a breath-taking sunrise.
Hyperbole aside – this is an essential album for every pop music lover. Encore, maestro!
KEY TRACKS: Love On My Sleeve, Ex-Stripper Librarian, Hit Me Like A Smile, Francis of Alaska
SOUNDS LIKE: Queen, XTC, the Beatles, Brian Wilson, Pink Floyd, Kinks, Jason Falkner, Radiohead Power of Pop
Powerpopaholic: Aaron Kupferberg
For those of you who enjoy your pop on the baroque side, the new Brad Brooks album will definitely be your cup of tea. “Spill Collateral Love” contains a flood of orchestral and harmonic details with those guitar power chords. “Love on my sleeve” is a good track that recalls the hypnotically repeated guitar chords from Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” This is followed by “Lathered in Cream,” a bouncy, hook-filled classic slice of power pop and the obvious “single” on this album – unfortunately that’s it for the high energy songs. The rest of the album takes a rather moody turn. It begins with the melancholic “Ex-stripper Librarian” that sounds alot like a great Stephen Trask show ballad. “The Loon of Altitude” and “Francis of Alaska” mixes a bit of classic piano and Vaudevillian styled narrative rock that recalls Jellyfish’s best moments. In fact, Brooks sings his heart out on this album with an emotional resonance resembling Freddy Mercury or 10cc. I’m sure there is a full story connecting all these songs, with arcane run-on-sentence lyrics like, “..this town is a crazy playground of lost daisies are chaining…,” I’ll need to listen to it more. When we get to “The Sonic Twins” we get back to the classic Brad Brooks sound for a bit, before the album contiunes with the harmonica driven “Pleading Amnesia” that sounds like it would fit well on Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut or any Guided By Voices album. The album ends with “Luxurious Latitude” a fitting music-hall styled ending. It’s good to shake things up a bit and have power pop not so cheery, but very dramatic and visceral. Listen to this album streaming at Not Lame to hear it all. – Powerpopaholic
Not Lame: Bruce Brodeen
[quote]WARNING – MACH II: Challenging, high-reaching music may be dangerous to your culture-dulled ears![/quote]
Okay, now that we have those public service announcements out of the way, let’s talk about dangerous pop. Power Poppin’ music that forgoes conventions, leaves behind simple accepted formulas and aspires to the tattooed indie rock crowd who has no idea that a Raspberry, a Jellyfish or a Big Star has everything to do with timeless music and nothing to do with fruit and stardom. Not Lame has a special deal going on right now for this amazing release, as well. Go to this link to listen to a stream out on this album and find out what kind of extra, exclusive goodies we have for you! Not Lame
So what does it all sound like? Well, if you are familiar with the works of Jon Brion’s “Meaningless” you are heading in the right direction. “Spill Collateral Love” is work of big and beautifully sublime creations for people who want their music to comfort, enrich themselves – not entertain. The spirit here is intoxicating. The music moods are kaleidoscopic without being trippy because we’re talking pop music and all the arrangements fit snug inside the vision. You can hear it above, in fact. ONE OF 2007’s VERY VERY BEST, we are most serious on this one.
Subba-Cultcha (UK): Pete Williams
[quote] Undeniably talented singer songwriter struggles to stamp his own identity on his music:[/quote]
There is a certain something about Brad Brooks that makes you want to dismiss him and his album straight away. A singer songwriter, originally from Tucson, Arizona, the music that Brooks creates, on first listen at least, seems somewhat one dimensional and the tracks that do stick around a while in your head seem too derivative to be given any real credence.As you give Spill Collateral Love a closer listen, it becomes clear that the problem with this album is that it paints a somewhat blurred picture of who Brad Brooks is and what he’s trying to say with his music. Opening track Love On My Sleeve, though relatively simple, evokes so many other artists all at once – Elliot Smith, Rufus Wainwright, Keane, etc. – that it becomes difficult to concentrate on the fact that it’s actually quite a good, atmospherically moody song in it’s own right. In fact, aside from the upbeat guitar driven Lathered In Cream, the sun-drenched The Loon Of Altitude, which again inescapably evokes thoughts of Elliot Smith, and the Counting Crows-esque track The Sonic Twins, atmospherically moody serves as a suitable description for the album as a whole, with the weapon of delivery alternating between piano and guitar.Spill Collateral Love does contain some genuinely good songs, in particular Francis Of Alaska and the intriguingly titled Ex-Stripper Librarian, but it’s almost as if Brooks is trying a bit too much at once for it to be an altogether enjoyable listen. Worth checking out though. Subba-Cultcha
Reviews of -Sanctified Into Astroglide
Popmatters: Ben Varkentine
The telltale self-indulgence of the third track here, “Juliette Lewis’s Day Off”, a fantasy from the point of view of a movie crew worker having an affair with the actress, is the early clue to Brad Brooks’s biggest influences, and later songs make them come through loud and clear. Brooks is the kind of guy whose favorite Beatles period would be the all-studio, post touring era. Who would buy a boxed set of nothing but Brian Wilson’s unfinished noodlings. Whose favorite Tears For Fears album would be Seeds of Love with all it’s over-the-top production and bells and whistles. And who would hold XTC all the more close to his heart for Andy Partridge’s stubborn refusal to venture out of the studio with his band. You get the picture.Now, there is nothing wrong with any of those things. Indeed, at least one of those descriptions applies to me. But…You just knew there was a “but”.Though his references to their blueprints are obvious, Brooks has not built a very fine house on their foundations. This is all pop, pop, but without (forgive me) the fizz, fizz. The effervescence, excitement or exhilaration those bands supplied in their highest flights is in small quantities here.The unfortunate but true reason is that by waving their banners high, Brooks has invited comparison with Lennon, McCartney, Wilson, Orzabal, Smith and Partridge as songwriters. And that is a promise he cannot keep. “All My Favorite Bands Broke Up”, for example, gives us the not-exactly-heartstopping line “I don’t understand why bands die and do they cry?” and is otherwise given over to a list of those favorite bands. I’ll give him credit for listing ABC, Spandau Ballet and even Kajagoogoo — but I’ll withdraw it if he’s being ironic. (Irony is so ’90s, don’tcha know.)This CD is…well, it’s the damnedest thing, is what it is. Splashing musical and lyrical ideas onto a cinema-scope sized canvas, it leaves you with a picture that is always interesting, if not always as developed or refined as one might like. I would likely hire Brooks as a producer-arranger, but as a songwriter he needs to make a few more trips to the well.Note: This CD may be difficult to find. It wasn’t listed at any of the four online CD services I checked, and Brooks’s own web site wasn’t helpful at all. However, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area (as does Brooks) and you’re curious, it seems to be available in record stores there.
LEICESTER BANGS UK: Rob Forbes
Brad Brooks solo debut CD is an elaborate fusion of west coast baroque, melodic pop aesthetics and wispy psychedelia. A nice combination, and one that is rooted in the music of ’60s and ’70s Anglo-pop geniuses like The Zombies, 10cc and Wings, with just a hint of some modern practitioners, such as Chris von Sneidern and even Ocean Colour Scene. Upfront pop songs are at the forefront of the album, and Brooks is an accomplished writer, always engaging the listener with catchy hooks and clever lyrical twists. Much of the material is piano based which only adds to the ’70s ambience and the best songs on Sanctified Into Astroglide – “Frosty Chronic Memories”, “The Velvet Flu” and “Mildred Cross” – deserve a much wider audience. Rob Forbes (Leicester Bangs, UK)
SFBayGuardian: John O’Neal
Brooks is a mid-tempo, piano-based pop magician who originally hails from Tucson, Ariz., home of nothing. If his latest album, Sanctified in Astroglide (Mouth Magic), is any indication of what is to be expected live, he could be the talk of the festival. Or he could be an unmitigated disaster. Brooks’s quasi psychedelia-meets-West Coast baroque owes to obvious influences like Brian Wilson and the Zombies, but it owes just as much to the bombast of ELO and Wings (the only thing more embarrassing than McCartney’s solo output). Disconcerting? You bet. Either way, it’s a must-see.
Most likely to: Own a copy of Pipes of Peace.
POWER OF POP: Kevin Matthews
BRAD BROOKS Sanctified Into Astroglide [Mouth Magic] www.Brad-Brooks.com Sci-fi pop. Edgy, angular, oddball but always with melodic quotient intact. Psychedelic John Lennon, Traffic, Smile-era Brian Wilson, the Move, Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock, XTC, Teardrop Explodes and Blur — y’know pop with a distinctive flavour. Mildred Cross, Second Only To Nature, Barking Dogma and Juliette Lewis Day Off attest to Brook’s way with quirky tunes, spacey effects, studiocraft and a healthy dose of fun. The last 3 tracks end on a rootsy note but, what can I tell ya – it works! (8)
AMPLIFIER: Jeff Shelton
Brad Brooks is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who has been working the in mines of the local music scene for years, in addition to earlier musical stints in his hometown of Tucson Arizona. Finally coming to terms with hiswell-versed pop music acumen, Brooks has assembled a fine collection of compelling mid-tempo pop on his debut album “Sanctified Into Astroglide”. With the help of various Bay Area musicians, Brooks has melded his piano-based songs into rich, complex and sometimes psychedelic songscapes with sweetly melodic 60’s and 70’s pop overtones.
“Frosty Chronic Memories” has a distinct Zombies flair with its soft vocals and rich gliding piano, while the punchy “Juliette Lewis Day Off” is pure 70’s pop indulgence ala 10cc and Queen. Equally adept at just guitar and vocals,
Brooks offers a change of pace with the sweet, stripped-down “Mildred Cross”, perhaps the album’s most memorable track. As if searching for even more variety, “Sanctified’s” later tracks astroglide into mid-tempo pop that is almost country-tinged. Certainly not lacking influence and ability, Brad Brooks is a pop solo artist on the rise, who will hopefully take his pop appeal beyond the reaches of the Bay Area.
SFBayGuardian: Summer Burkes
On his singularly titled self released album “Sanctified Into Astroglide”, Bay Area singer-songwriter Brad Brooks favors a complex approach – major chords, tambourines, acoustic and electric guitars, pianos, calloipes, third-year music theory chord progressions, and layers upon layers of sugary backing vocals – the end result of which is a very pleasant 13-song pop toothache. Brooks takes notes from ’90s pop fiends like Guided by Voices and Matthew Sweet, but still holds old-school syrup-mongers like 10cc, Wings, Supertramp, and XTC close to his chest. “Sanctified Into Astroglide” is a promising recording from a rising Bay Area songsmith.
Some artists have great ideas. Some have great songs. Brad Brooks has both. Quiet, yet powerful, Brad’s music is very compelling. Complex vocal arrangements, excellent instrumentation and just plain old fashioned quality songwriting that grabs the cynic in you and kicks its ass. If you like the Eels, Elliot Smith, Brian Wilson, and the softer side of Jellyfish, Brad Brooks is your next pop crush.
Rhapsody : Eric Shea
If you could take sunshine, collect it in a jar, and then pour the incandescent liquid over piano keys and unplugged guitars and chiming tambourines, you might end up with a Brad Brooks song. All those dream-inducing Beach Boy harmonies and syrupy slow music combine to sound like a summer day when the gentle breezes keep the heat away and gently brush the hairs on your face.
Robert Pally Sanctified Into Astroglide
ist eines dieser Alben, die man sich wegen ihrer Vielschichtigkeit schon ein paar Mal zu Gemüte führen muss. Der aus Tucson, Arizona, stammende Brad Brooks (ehemals Pollo Elastico) hat sich für sein Debüt von vielen Seiten inspirieren lassen. Ein Fixpunkt sind die an die Beach Boys angelehnten Gesangsharmonien, die immer wieder in den dreizehn Songs auftauchen. Zum Beispiel im wunderprächtigen «Second Only To Nature» oder dem behutsamen «All My Favorite Bands Broke Up», in dem Brad die Auflösung seiner Lieblingsbands betrauert. Dass dazu Kajagoogoo und Twisted Sister gehören sollen, kann er aber nicht ernst gemeint haben?! Die Eröffnungsnummer «Frostic Chronic Memories» mit dem schönen Pianopart könnte man sich auch von den Ben Folds Five vorstellen, wenn es die noch geben würde. «Juliette Lewis Day Off» ist purer Psych-Power-Pop à la Jellyfish. Ein Tabla (arabische Trommeln) und ein Mismar (eine Art Mischung aus Klarinette und Trompete) geben «Mildred Cross» orientalisches Flair. Überdies finden sich auf «Sanctified Into Astroglide» auch noch folkige Elemente, Alt-Country, bluesige Parts oder wie in «Misfortune» fast grungige Züge. Hier beweist Brad Brooks die Wandelbarkeit seiner Stimme, die im besagten Songs ziemlich rau daherkommt. Trotz dieser Vielschichtigkeit klingt «Sanctified …» aber nie zerrissen, sondern eher wie ein unterhaltsamer Trip durch den Mikrokosmos eines Pop-Lovers!! (rpa) Robert Pally
translation into english – is one of those albums that is due to their complexity has already lead to heart a few times. A native of Tucson, Arizona, Brad Brooks(formerly Pollo Elastico) drew inspiration for his first of many pages. A fixed point, the style similar to the Beach Boys vocal harmoniesthat appear repeatedly in the thirteen songs. For example, in the beautiful magnificent “Second Only To Nature” or the gentle “All MyFavorite Bands Broke Up” in which Brad mourned the dissolution of his favorite bands. Kajagoogoo and that this should includeTwisted Sister, but it may not have meant seriously? The opening number, “Frostic Chronic Memories” with the beautiful piano part, one could also imagine the Ben Folds Five, if it would give. “Juliette Lewis Day Off” is pure psych-power pop à la Jelly Fish. A tabla (Arabicdrum) and a Mismar (a kind of mix of clarinet and trumpet) give “Mildred Cross” oriental flair. Moreover, can be found on “Sanctified IntoAstroglide” even folky elements, alt-country, bluesy parts or as in “Misfortune” almost grungy trains. Here, Brad Brooks proves theversatility of his voice, which comes in the song suggests pretty rough. Despite these complexities sounds “Sanctified …” but neverbroken, but rather as an entertaining trip through the microcosm of a pop-Lovers! (RPA) Robert Pally
Reviews of -POLLO ELASTICO: BANTAMS 88-90′
Good Times: Brian Fitch
I had long ago converted my cassette copy of “Jurupa Mae” to CD, but this is a true find. Don’t think I missed many PE shows in Tucson (and once broke my nose jumping from the stage at Club Congress). Erik and I were (are) from the same hometown and last I spoke with him he was headed to law school at Lewis & Clark in Portland (OR)…I believe he is still practicing law with a firm there.
TASTES LIKE (RUBBER) CHICKEN : jerry kurinsky
wow-i totally forgot how much fun these guys were live but this cd brings it all back to me–knew them 1st as deadbolts-still have that on cassette–could not believe that the cd was available-hasn’t left my car cd player since i got it-if i was comparing them to someone playing music today i’d say they are pretty close to the chilli peppers yet they did it before them–i recomend this cd highly-great driving cd–on a personal note-if anyone knows how to get in touch with erik merrill it would be deeply appreciated-met erik 1st day at u of a–friends throughout college–we were founding members of the leisure cats-which still exists in a small way today–hope someone can help–but 1st-buy the cd now!!!
Still loves the album: Todd Mentch
Music that holds up, and surpisingly the tape still plays, though the AZ sun eventually warped the case a bit. Great to know we can all buy the CD now. He had great pipes, I always thought they would make it bigger. Hey, fix the typos in my text – it’s awful! 🙂 peace
Masters of the Incredible Bouncing Crowd: Tim Scott
I’ve had the original cassette forever. These guys did something that Tuscon had never seen before (or probably since) with cowpoke funk blended into a blistering hour of a rocking good time. They packed the room, the crowd moved in unison and everyone had a great time. Good to see this available again. Buy it and enjoy.