Brody and his band are maturing artists with a definite vision for their evolving craft. They are flexing their musical muscle like a tri-athlete looking for the gold. They are full of energy and ideas and are testing the outer limits of their endurance. They are pushing back at a tawdry scene that's teetering at the abyss, throwing a lifeline to music and art and reeling it all back in to the mother ship. This is an incredible body of work, honest and bold. Brody and the Busch Rd Trio are not hesitant to sing about truth and live with the consequences. This is a pure triumph, one of the best discs of the year. Take a listen:
Stay - is an introspective piece that recalls Michael Stipe in his early days with REM. Brody has a mic friendly voice with just enough quiver and nuance to show his vulnerability and make it his own. The basic premise is love and loneliness and the musical backdrop supports the breadth of emotional expression. The music segues from quiet to loud to match the emotions expressed by the singer. Brody's voice rises and the tempo picks up. A fuzz-tone slide adds a little punch to the despair in the lyric. The guitar work is incredible. Burk plays it like ringing a bell, loud yet melodic.
“She left me in the sad mid-morning / With nothing but the cup of coffee I was holding / Said she'd get back to me someday / The fog lifted slowly I prayed for rain / Dark cloudy skies to conceal my pain / But the rain washed them all away / What to do now but go back inside / Curse the bed where we lied and cry / Babe why don't you stay
Murphy Lake Road Interlude - Opens with Jangly guitar and a marching beat right outta Sousa. The guitarist plays some big fat notes and gives the song a great hook. Brody spits out the words like venom from a snake bite. His rapid fire gunshot vocals have a husky Jack Daniels on a Friday night when you stay just a little too long and you wake up with a headache and your underwear down at your ankles and you wonder when she left and what you did to her. At this point Burk heats up the guitar until it gets louder and louder until the distortion and feedback almost hurts. The discordance is a statement . The song ends with the guitarist striking a loud sustained open chord .
Juliet's Got the Blues - This is a stoned rootsy earth anthem with a flavor of Dylanesque harp and a slurry laconic vocal perfect for the sedative/hypnotic crowd. The drummer has a strong backbeat and provides some neat syncopation to breaks through the bluesy self-absorption of the protagonist. This title would fit neatly into the Mumford & Sons catalog if Brody would only curse more often and portray the confidence and sensibility of a drunkard or longshoreman. Still, all-in-all this is a love song that didn't work out too well. She didn't buy it and he felt the sting. The echoed guitar riff comes in to the mix like a choir of bagpipes. It's like a banshee howl, a cry of despair - great song!
“I finally gone and lost her for good this time / I write a letter everyday, but she won't change her mind / Can't recall what I did wrong Lord send me a sign / I finally gone and lost her for good this time
Can't Burn Vern - This is a hats off to Dave Grohl's hats off to Kurt Cobain who begat the Foo Fighters who begat the saving of rock & roll through the ghost of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The thrashing thunderous guitars provide the rhythmic overtone while the bass and drums give the bottom real depth. The guitarist has a melodic touch that pulls it all together. Brody's powerful vocals give the message a clip on the chin like Ali teasing Frasier at the Thrilla on Manila. The guitarist rocks mercilessly at the coda, hitting the E-string like samurai. This is Brody's cry for help; a scream for salvation. Brody sounds more like Anthony Kiedis on this cut. Another hard rockin' gem - anyone for Californication?
Give it Away - Is the perfect vehicle tohighlight the band's fine-tuned musicality. The song has some neat syncopation and a tricky hesitation on the third beat of the verse with a sustained chord on the chorus. The timing is razor sharp. These cats can play. The lyrics have a heavy irony. He can forget and forgive all but his own sins. He could be reeling from a broken heart or some other addiction.
“Help me back Lord, to this life ' I have lived no, I have died / Tell me how they did it those who came before me ' Followed footsteps, I fell shortly / Can't give it away / Give it away / Can't give it away / No I can't get it back now
TN - This is down home country folk with primitive harp layered over top signaling like a freight train. The drummer keeps it going with a solid syncopation. The economical country rock guitar and those tasty full bodied notes allows the song space to breathe. The acoustic guitar helps drive the rhythm.
Cat in the Rain - The minor chord colors the musical canvas. The guitarist sustains the fuzz-toned riff and it sails above the music like a ghostly banshee wail. The unison low harmonies give body Brody's REM vocal. He sings like he's in a trance, as if he's chanting a mantra that is embedded in the hurricane pain of love gone badly.
“It's raining outside won't you let me in / Take my boots off no mud on your carpet / Won't you lay me down in your bed / Turn the lights out over my head / My feet are cold, my clothes soaking wet / It's coming down too hard to light a cigarette / I know you locked me out won't you let me in
Full Frontal - This is a rage against the machine, the clicks and clacks of the star maker machinery that has rusted and withered and left musicians, songwriters and singer holding the bag. Nobody can make money through the arts when our society is unhealthy and we are frozen in fear with no hope to make the good fight. It may give artists and poets something to rail about but playing for nothing is not the answer. The guitarists descending line and the drummers pounding beat underscore the bands anger. Burk plays more notes in two bars than Jimmy Page. The decibel level is ear-splitting loud and right on the mark.
Lady Breathless - has a knockout hook that gallops along at a nice pace. The acoustic refrain and strummed electric chord take a back seat to Brody's up-front vocal. Love the big hook in the middle 8. The melodic foundation of the music is a perfect vehicle for this sensuous sonnet; an imperfect love song. This is Brody's search for something more than moderate happiness.
Drive Toward Me - The quiet/loud construction is another tip of the hat to Cobain and grunge. The drummer sets up the rhythm by riding the high hat and cymbals. By the second verse the drums and guitar join together and machine gun the tempo. There are several slick tempo changes in the song. The guitarist's slide becomes a powerful statement and sets the pace for the driving beat on the bridge. It sounds like a plea for help
“I wish we could find some common ground / Instead of falling and stalling and spinning around / I know now I'm stuck out here / Graying and fading and wasting the years / So this is what it's like to be alive staring at life / See your face in a dusty mirror / Lord help me out I'm dying here
Room 221 - A slowed-down tempo and foreboding minor key colors the musical landscape. The band takes on several tricky tempo shifts that help the music assert itself and gives Brody the platform to explore and expand his unique vocal blend of intonation, bent notes, breathing, sustained notes and moaned and garbled asides. This is an incredible prescient look at aging and necessary losses. Great song!
“These old wrinkled hands / Used to hold so many plans / Too late to regret / Only got one vacation left / Now she's dying here all alone / Dying here all alone
What Went Wrong - This is morality tale about making bad choices and the stranglehold of addiction. It is a death knell; a ringing warning. Beware, you never pick up that first glass of cider thinking you'll get hooked. It can kill your soul.
“Now my life is so empty / Just like all those bottles of whisky / No hope for me anymore / I think it's time to settle the score / I choose the booze
Can't Breathe - This is a pastoral sepia-toned ode to a devastating loss. The guitar is a virtual wall of pain. It sounds like a punch in the chest and a stranglehold on your throat. The pain takes his breath away. The tempo slows down, the music quiets and Brody sings from the heart. But he's standing inside himself and feels all of it. The strummed chord at the end seems like an act of defiance. He knows he will not wallow in sorrow forever.
“Burned your picture erased your number / Sat outside with the rolling thunder / Beauty turned to ashes your voice is long gone / Just me and the raindrops falling till dawn