One of the things about doing a site like this, one that has been around a long time, by blogging standards, is that we get a decent about of press inquiries about coverage. Some of these inquiries are absurd (no, we don't want a copy of the new Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber records, thank you very much), some are kinda awesome (thanks to all our favorite record labels for noticing us). But most of the inquiries are from unsigned or fledgling artists, folks who are trying to get a foothold into the music scene, who are looking for a way to get their music heard, and who have labored with love over their records. We haven't been very good about covering some of these artists, but we're gonna make a conscious effort to improve on that, and do our best to spotlight bands and artists that deserve wider coverage.
And we're gonna start with a stunner, a record that blew us away, and has demanded many repeated listenings. The record is called "A Night Goes Through", and it's by Barry Brusseau.
We spend a lot of time encouraging folks to support independent music, and you don't get better or more independent than this.
"Sittin' back and drinkin in the cold breeze, I close my eyes
And listen to the sound, of cars go rushin' by
The sun is in my face, it sits low in the sky
Autumn is the place where summertime can die"
Before we dive into the tunes themselves, a little something about the man and the album. Brusseau contacted with an offer I couldn't refuse...a copy of his brand spankin' new vinyl record. Well, we can't have enough of those, so I greedily agreed for him to send it along. Glad I did. It's one of the most beautifully packaged albums in recent memory. More on that in a moment.
"We're only halfway home, I wouldn't leave you alone
Looking warm and stoned, now we just let go"
Brusseau made his early musical bones in punk bands The Jimmies and The Legend of Dutch Savage. Feeling a pull in a different direction, Brusseau began composing quieter and more personal songs, playing them out on demos and even open mic nights, perfecting the songs through each experience. Putting aside 50 bucks a paycheck for over two years, he began to record and assemble "A Night Goes Through" for an eventual vinyl release. The full story, and it's a very good one, can be found here, at his website. It's definitely worth checking out, particularly for anyone looking to branch out into recording for themselves.
"And we made our plans,
and we made our demands
But it's here I stand
a disappointed man
We set our sights so high.
In The Blue Flame Sky
Forgot these dreams could keep,
forgot these dreams could fly."
What Brusseau produced is nothing short of genius. Really. No hyperbole involved. A shimmering hymn of midnight moon and morning dew.
In Brusseau's words:
" I grew up loving records. Coming home after buying one, and reading everything inside and out. Holding it while listening, and letting my imagination run wild. I decided that’s what I wanted to do, make the kind of record I would have loved to get... Now the heart of this record is the music, but the soul of it is in the senses of sight and touch. It's really hard to achieve the same aesthetic in any other medium."From the beautiful and haunting cover by Rachel Blumberg to the heavy stock lyric cards (a card for every song, accented by hazed and pinholed photos), to the heavy vinyl, to the sleeve, every tactile experience is heightened before you even pop this on the turntable.
And then there's the music itself. Which makes everything come together beautifully. And beauty, even the dark kind, is what defines this record.
"Well you don't think you burn as bright, as bright as I,
But from the morning till the night, you burn up the sky
The sordid sins, of the splendid sinners
Let them all come on in"
Let's get the reference points out of the way first: Richard Buckner, Jackson C. Frank, Nick Drake. Add to to that a strong New Zealand streak, particularly Peter Jefferies and his brother Graeme Jefferies (Cakekitchen, in addition to his solo work).
But a great musician is not, of course, their influences. They are themselves. And Barry Brusseau is very much his own voice.
"If I run away will it fade away?"
The record is very much, as it's title suggests, a midnight to six am listen, inviting you into a warm room, your favorite chair facing the window, a bottle of whiskey on the table, and a broken heart mending with each beat. Brusseau's voice: a lowered, single malt bartione, whispering in yr ear from behind, urging you into the stars fell night, taking you through the small hours with each hushed prayer. Each whispered line a reflection of headlights on broken pavement.
"Why'd I even agree to come, agree to comeMusically, the record picks and trips and gorgeously wanders, at times stripped and naked, at times delicately baroque. Each passage is a Koan, a heart-broken melody, strung and neon-lit, the fireflies and the fading campfire, the salvation in yr crackled AM leading home, or at least to the fizzled motel in the end of the world.
It was probably cause I'm drunk, cause I'm drunk
I haven't shaved my face in months, not in months
The coffee table's mine, can I put my feet up one more time?"
"I am tlll and frayed, I'm shaking in and outWhat is crafted, what you hear, and what is communicated... a singular vision, a man in the forgotten hours, and the forgotten years, laid bare, a vision of the smallness and grandness of the in-between time, a moment of slipping and catching, while the world is sleeping. And, while the world is sleeping Barry Brusseau is breathing a sound of the moment between waking and dream.
And I see the woods, and the rust
Relax, your voice will come sit back and feel the sun
The colors bright and blue, and the warmth"
"Float so high I hear angels sing, hear them sing
Float so high I hear angels sing. Got stars all over their wings."
We've avoided listing individual songs in this review. Each tune demands its own experience, and to single out a single missive does the record injustice, as we believe you will find your own way through to a favorite track that speaks into yr ear. We've quoted many of the tunes throughout, and feel that welcomes you into the record. If we've failed, let us know.
The following songs were ripped from the vinyl, and at a low bit-rate. We want folks to feel like they've heard something from the record without feeling like they own the record. The phrase "labor of love" is bandied about quite a bit, but, in this case, it's true. You can buy the vinyl here. (it includes a download card, so you can have the vinyl and the mp3's all in one). Christ, it's only $10. You can also download the record from that site as well, if you're not keen on the whole "vinyl" thing. Our dream is to help sell out the entire vinyl stock that Barry Brusseau has pressed, even realizing he takes a loss with each record sold.
This is your chance to support a truly independent artist, and to hear one of the most heartbreaking albums of this year, and years past, and years to come. C'mon people!
"It's the simple songs that make the night go through
The effort it takes is small and true
Honey why can't this song be like you"
Barry Brusseau: Thrift Store Buzz (mp3)
Barry Brusseau: A Night Goes Through (mp3)
Seriously, please consider buying this record. You won't be disappointed. And you'll be supporting a true independent artist. Thanks.