Orphan Subterranean Blues
Orphan Subterranean Blues
Orphan Subterranean Blues
Chris Brecht’s debut The Great Ride was one of my favourite albums of 2008. With a mid sixties Dylan feel and a beat sensibility it was a fantastic example of how an artist can take a genre and re inject some vigour into it. After a fairly lengthy wait here we have his second offering which while not as exhilarating as The Great Ride shows a fine progression while retaining much that was great about the first album. With his band, Dead Flowers getting equal billing here the sound is expanded so that while there are still rambling rockers such as Living Twice as Hard and Devil and with the rollocking ride that is Not Where You Are, a direct link to the previous album Brecht is now using a wider canvas with the sound more expansive with some fine organ and pedal steel throughout the album.
The opening song, Hollywood has some of the ennui and faded grandeur that graced some of the more obscure early seventies LA albums by the likes of Terry Melcher and Gene Clark with the mock orchestral opening perhaps lampooning the string arrangements that were usually present. The song has a fine sense of drama and some fine pedal steel from Ricky Ray Jackson. The pedal steel indeed snakes throughout the album but not in a country sense, much more like the colourings added to late sixties, early seventies rock bands like The Grateful Dead or even the Stones.
On his webpage Brecht ponders the Dylan comparison’s he has evoked stating “I wanted to make a record that sounded like an acoustic social club that toured by freight train in 1922.” However there’s no getting away from the comparison when listening to Don’t take It So Hard which contains the very essence of Dylan in his pre motorcycle crash days. An excellent song. Brecht doesn’t sound like Dylan nor does he even try to but the music and the delivery are in thrall to that time. As good as this is Brecht gets even better with Blue Thunder, a song that is epic and understated at the same time with muffled percussion and crashing waves of sound.
Although the band excel throughout the album the stars of the show are Brecht’s lyrics and vocals. He inhabits a space vocally that is worn and weary, an old head on young shoulders. His words reference writers and poets, are reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ landscapes and find poetry in everyday circumstances.
Why Brecht is not better known is a mystery but it’s early days yet and he has the potential to leap into at least minor stardom. Whether he wants that or not is another matter. On his website he offers trenchant thought on his albums, his music and life in general and overall has a fine handle on his life.
Thoroughly recommended for anyone interested in Americana music.
What Chris Brecht and Dead Flowers give us with the song, “Streetlights,” from their newest album, “Dead Flower Motel,” is a story about the insecurities that rest in all of us. It’s a story about how little it’s possible to feel, even without feeling little at all. It’s a song that puts into context exactly what we grapple with on a daily basis, even if we’re unable or unwilling to put our finger on its pulse. The Austin, Texas, songwriter wrote a song about deep waters. It’s a song that asks you to look out upon that lake in front of you and guess how far it goes down. So, you guess, throwing a number back at him that’s comically low. He asks you to try again. You think harder for a second, believing this is a waste of time, tack on another couple hundred feet, trying to be ridiculous and give an answer. He laughs again and tells you that you’re way off. He tells you that the lake goes on for thousands of miles, straight down and out. You question that he knows this for certain and then he plays “Streetlights” for you and you doubt him far less. We find that he has a great capacity for knowing the depths of men, and he might know something about the depths of the fairer sex too, if only in that the depths and black holes of men are often owed to the interactions between the two sets. He seems to have come to the conclusion that we’re as temporary as it gets – nothing but a speck of dust that can be quickly and quietly forgotten about, blown off. The temporariness extends in all manners and in all ways, making us brittle and soft when we’re broken down into our few parts.
We know it in our hearts – that we’re weak and expendable – but we also can see the beauty in that. We are brief and we are supposed to make the most of it. Brecht does this by finding the beauty in the smallest things, those toss-away details that, for many, are imperceptible, but they’re the bits that make a writer great and make a satisfied person. He sings on “Streetlights, “There’s no telling if the streetlights glow for us/I know there are certain things you didn’t want me to see/So I watched your toes curl while you watched TV/And I knew you wouldn’t remember a thing I said so I watched your ankles at the edge of the bed.” Those toes and those ankles, perceived with nothing but love in the eyes and gazed upon by a man savoring the juts and the curves and the subtle movements when they believe that they aren’t being monitored, are those sorts of lasting impressions that can’t be taken back. They are to be the mementos that will survive fires, divorces, goodbyes, tears and end times. They will be all that’s left – that and the luster ringing in the ears or stinging your cheeks and lips. He sings about pain the way a man that respects pain sings about pain. It’s not a fear of pain, but a nod to it, as if to silently acknowledge that such a sensation can only exist out of the wreckage of something much happier. And so we nod to that pain and we feel little.
I definitely didn’t get enough sleep last night… I was just sent this poster. SXSW is nearing.. I’ll be sleepin’ in. But on wednesday, CB and Dead Flowers will be joining the party wednesday night for an invite only party… get on the list
Wednesday Schedule – 2:30 Cherrywood Coffee ( 1400 E. 38th 1/2) – Acoustic
- 7:30 Wednesday Night Ramble @ the Gibson Guitar showroom (you must RSVP)
that lil coffee shop in east austin that has developed it’s own culture…. yes.. Cherrywood.. i’m gonna play an acoustic show there this night…friday the 25… Let’s plan on 8pm though, i have no idea when really… so confirm that.8pm. off 38th 1/2 on the eastside..
Dead Flower Motel
Chris Brecht’s 2008 debut, The Great Ride, saddled up Dylan with convincing, if overly indebted, promise. The local songwriter’s sophomore album proves he’s capable of rising to the next rung. With a crack band that calls upon members of Austin’s new roots scene (the Happen-Ins, Deadman, Ricky Ray Jackson’s ubiquitous pedal steel), Brecht finds the right accents to his lazy drawl. Opener “Hollywood” cracks and crawls with a biting disillusion, and the belting whine of “Don’t Take It So Hard” cuts. When Brecht holds a note, it can ache like Townes Van Zandt. The disc’s production and Andrew Hernandez’s mixing inspire equally, from the warped atmospherics of “Wish You” to the subtle piano pull of “Blue Thunder.” Underlying bass on the rolling “Not Where You Are” and the banjo-licked kick of “Livin’ Twice as Hard” direct toward Tweedy-level inspiration as Brecht buries wonderfully delicate moments into the nooks of each song. Dead Flower Motel, plant yourself.
Monday night we return to the hole in the wall.
10PM – Dead Flowers
12AM – Leo Rondeau
Country night and cheap beers if i remember right.. and i know i’m remembering right. so it’ll be like saving money.