Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brandon Schott is a man out of time. A review of his latest, Dandelion

Brandon Schott
2009 Golden State Music

Brandon Schott is a man out of time. Or perhaps, to be more accurate, he is a songwriter unstuck from the constraints of time. His latest album Dandelion gives the listener an overwhelming feeling of early 70’s Laurel Canyon (a neighborhood of Los Angeles, California which many great musicians have called home since the 60’s). Not that Dandelion is a deliberate homage in any way; Brandon shares so many qualities with the amazing artists that populated Laurel Canyon during this time period that its is easy to picture him mingling in this neighborhood of rock royalty. Schott’s songs are perfectly constructed (Jackson Browne, Graham Nash) but not afraid to surprise you with a left turn (Joni Mitchell). One such song, “Fire Season” garnered him a Hollywood Music Award just this last week. The vocal performances on Dandelion express such emotion, depth, and intensity that Schott could convey all of his feelings to the listener even if his songs were without lyrics (Judy Sill, Carole King). Though Brandon is essentially a solo artist the songs here possess the cohesiveness and musicianship of a road tested rock band (CSN&Y, The Byrds). From all of these comparisons it may seem that I am trying to convey that this album sounds "old". No, it sounds "timeless". Unfortunately, there aren’t many timeless albums being made today so you have to go into the past to find comparison. Let me explain...

There is a current trend amongst rock/pop musicians to emulate yesterday’s hit makers and call it something new. Most who try fail miserably. Why? Because, while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it makes for really boring, rehashed music. When you try to recreate music that is “timeless” you only end up with something that sounds dated. Artists, who take in everything around them (new and old) using their own perception to analyze and reconstruct it, give back to the world hybrid creations that are without time. Modern examples of such architects are Aimee Mann, Josh Rouse, and Richard Swift. Schott does this also and does it very well.

Dandelion's 13 tracks were recorded over three months time in a church near Schott's Glendale home while he was undergoing treatment and recovery from a stage three germ cell tumor. Every feeling you can imagine while going through this type of experience is in each and every song. Coming from an emotionally intense place such as this songs can easily turn maudlin, or the opposite, too hopeful to the point of being silly. Dandelion's songs are neither. The theme of Dandelion seems to be "life is a ride". We're all on it. Sometimes bad things happen. It’s a turbulent ride...but an honest one.

I would like to correct what I said in the beginning of this review. Brandon is not a “man out of time”. He is exactly where he needs to be in world quickly becoming starved of beauty and originality. Here and Now.


Brandon Schott’s latest release Dandelion can be purchased at iTunes and other major digital download sites. You can find out more about Brandon Schott and his music at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dracula Boots - Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds
Dracula Boots
2009 – In The Red Records

At first glance you may not recognize the name Kid Congo Powers, but go back deep into your collection and check your vinyl by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Cramps, and The Gun Club. You will find his name. He has played with those bands as well as Congo Norvell, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, and Mark Eitzel of American Music Club (to name just a few). Born and raised Brian Tristan in El Monte, California he was rechristened “Kid Congo” by The Cramps lead singer Lux Interior when he joined that band in 1980. Kid Congo and his guitar have been entertaining the flocking masses of punkybirds for over 25 years. Which brings us to his most recent work “Dracula Boots” released under his latest incarnation Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds. Dracula Boots is eleven tracks of psychedelic, surf, swamp, garage, punk, funk, rock, and blues, mashed up into a musical genre/beast that can only be called Kid Congo music. The guitars are fuzzy, twangy and washed in reverb – the rhythm section is incredibly tight and funky – the organs are vintage and distorted. Combine all of those ingredients with a Theremin and the tongue-in-cheek story telling of Kid Congo and you have a CD that will turn your grandma’s tea party into a go-go dancing extravaganza – or morph your boring commute into a high speed adventure through the seedy, back-alley underworld of the deep, dark city. It’s hard not to love a CD where the “squeak, squeak” of a kick drum pedal in need of lubrication is part of the rhythm of every song (it is, and I LOVE it!) or the guitar is out of tune ever so slightly – just enough to add another dimension to the twang. The true beauty of an album like Dracula Boots is found in its warts. And they are glorious.

Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds are currently on a world tour to support Dracula Boots. Buy the CD and catch their killer live show. You won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


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