Brad Brooks’ latest feature length release, Spill Collateral Love, evokes a dramatic and orchestral pop soundscape: think huge, bright Circus Tent being torn down on a rainy flatland in a vintage Fellini film.
The 13 song CD, is Brad Brooks’ best so far, a visceral and psychedelic mix that highlights the Oakland songwriter’s exceptional vocal range and bold command of powerful pop craftsmanship.
Centered on a piano and acoustic guitar base, the expert band highlights a host of musical luminaries, including Paul Hoaglin of San Francisco’s Mother Hips.
Brooks’ disc is rooted in a kind of Victorian California romanticism; his vocal approach is earnest and dramatic, but maintains a poise and sense of wry wit that keeps the release organic yet keenly produced. Brooks even includes tape loops from S.F.’s now-defunct carnival funhouse Musee Mechanique on a track, pushing the band’s vaudevillian influences to the forefront of his original sound.
For listeners who enjoyed the romantic drama of Roxy Music and the power pop hooks of Guided By Voices, Brooks’ latest set of tunes is right up your alley.
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. www.brad-brooks.com
JamBase (Cooks Corner): Dennis Cook
Brad Brooks: Spill Collateral Love (Mouth Magic)
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"
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
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.
Not Lame: Bruce Brodeen
WARNING - MACH II: Challenging, high-reaching music may be dangerous to your culture-dulled ears!
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
Undeniably talented singer songwriter struggles to stamp his own identity on his music:
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
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 cliche`. Apre`s 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, malgr`e le titre, puis on a "The Sonic Twins", un retour bienvenu a` 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"
Originally from sun baked Tucson, Arizona, Bay Area pop alchemist, Brad Brooks has a big voice and he intends to use it for dastardly good. It’s Freddie Mercury dating Leonard Cohen, in a threesome with Kate Bush. With tales of love on his sleeve, ex-stripper librarians and manic tourists, his is an extraordinarily unique perspective on a city and its delightful debauchery. Cinematic, orchestrated, and moody, his elaborate west coast baroque sound, rocks, pops and breaks your heart in all the right places. Either solo, or with his band, Brad’s 70’s piano driven style of psychedelic persuasion moves from constructed pop anthems, through Jacques Brel-esque satirical waltzes, to intimate guitar ballads. Brooks has been performing throughout the Bay Area and is currently mastering his new long awaited sophomore release, “Spill Collateral Love”, due April 12th '07. Brad also: Has something from the Johnny Cash Show 1971
Is using a child development lecture tape as a means of political propaganda
A Klickitat Band Camp member
A chime groupie. Was/Is a rubber chicken.
He's a chime groupie, a carillon crusader, a bell ringer, and a vibraphone freak. A piano player and 2 inch tape ho. He likes to wish upon a scar. He’s old enough to know better, but young enough to do it again. Born an Okie, detoured in Memphis, sun tripped in Tucson, and landed in the Bay area. He was the singer for Pollo Elastico, Reckonball, and Dolorosa. He drives to deliver! He released his first solo record "Sanctified Into Astroglide" available through Not Lame and CD Baby in '01 He sang for his supper on Guitar Hero 2 and 4 volumes of Karaoke Revolution, and has just finished the mastering touches on his second solo record Spill Collateral Love. Recorded by Scott Solter (John Vanderslice, Mountain Goats, Two Gallants), Davy Vain (Vue, Parchman Farm), and Shay Scott (Klickitat Band Camp) It captures all his love of Frisco/Oaktown, New Orleans, and Tucson. For further tomfoolery:
After much deliberation, time, more time, tons of anxiety, the child is born! My 2nd Cd "Spill Collateral Love" is being released on April 12th and you'll be able to pick it up through Itunes and CD Baby. It encapsulates 13 songs of stark beauty, lush orchestration, love in all its obsessive forms, and psychedelic moments of insanity. (Mostly mine) It also rocks!
It features what I like to call the "Supra Haydns": Supreme musicians who have a unique skill to play a menagerie of instruments and who know when to play for the moment, and when to color outside the lines. (No coloring book should be with out them) They include: Paul Hoaglin, Shay Scott, Michael Phillip Taylor, Scott Solter, Chris Barnett, Brian Zalewski, Matt Greenberg, Franklin Vasquez.
A couple of things you should know about this record.
1) I wanted it to be recorded on 2 inch tape if it killed me!
99% of it is. The 1% percent, you'll never know! E-mail me if you can guess.
2) I wanted to make the whole thing with Paul Hoaglin as my right hand man. Sometimes he was my left hand man too. This guy I cannot say enough about as a friend/cohort, and anyone who has had the pleasure of playing with him (The Mother Hips, Etienne de Rocher, Sensations) knows what a monster this man is as a player.
3) I wanted more lyrical depth and organic orchestration. Not fluff, but drama and real strings! These were provided by an amazing trio of Patty Espeseth, Teri Untalen, and Alan Molina. They provided just what the doctor, and nurse ordered at every turn. (Where's my medication?) Bravo!
4) It was recorded and produced at a few studios and I'd like to thank all the folks involved.
Scott Solter @ Tiny Telephone
Davy Vain @ The Groove Room
Sir Shay Scott @ Klickitat band Camp
Paul Hoaglin @ Tiny, the Groove, and KlickitatI could not have made this CD without all the support and effort from all involved and will always be indebted to them for all their hard work and putting up with my ass!
I hope you enjoy it and that it enriches your lives in one way or another! Or at least makes you laugh once!