Artist Spotlight

Review: John Frazier, “Brainclouds”

No Comments 4 June 2013

Review: John Frazier, “Brainclouds”

“Frazier’s musicianship, writing and production are all to be commended here as well as his willingness to explore a variety of styles and sounds without sacrificing artistic integrity.”

Artist: John Frazier

Album: Brainclouds

Genre: Experimental Rock/Folk

RIYL: Beck, Tom Waits, Bryan Ferry

John Frazier - Brainclouds

Brainclouds is the 2nd solo album by musician/songwriter John Frazier who is also part of the recording projects John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds as well as Not Waving But Drowning.

If eclectic, intriguing and diverse are descriptions that describe Frazier’s music accurately then this is the place for the daring listener. That is not to say the songs on Brainclouds don’t have some mass appeal - quite a few do. However, there are some diversions into a strange place that may not be everyone’s cup of tea all the time, and that’s probably the way it’s intended to be.

The 10 tracks on Brainclouds move along at a brisk pace for the most part, aside from the nearly nine-minute closer, “Springtime Weather.” Some of the songs venture into bizarre breakdowns and come back to their original form as though nothing happened, which is quite interesting for the listener. A song such as “Hard Times,” with its snappy, upbeat feel or “Brainclouds,” an exuberant song with a moving bass line, mix of trumpet and banjo, and a lively guitar solo - were tailor-made for play on Alternative Rock stations.

The opener, “Little Red Shoes,” begins with a spacious intro of quietly strummed guitars and trumpet before becoming a jaunty romp that sounds like a carnival atmosphere. Any of these three songs showcases Frazier’s ability to create a spirited sound that doesn’t seem to follow any formula. The songs seem as though they went through very little in the way of reworking and what the listener hears is pretty much what Frazier had in his head and wanted to record.

At the other end of the spectrum is “Drinks and Drinks and Drinks,” which features weird arrangements, distorted vocals (seemingly through a megaphone) and twists and turns into semi-beatnik Jazz-meets-Tom Waits (not vocally) and even early 70’s Lizard-era King Crimson. “Drinks and Drinks and Drinks” may be the best song on the album. “Drinks and Drinks and Drinks” (great title by the way) is dark and atmospheric and the title seems most appropriate.

“Vunies High” starts barely above a whisper before leading to warm power chords and Matthew Sweet-like guitar distortion. The aforementioned “Springtime Weather” is a droning, slow-moving epic that features some excellent guitar work that shows skill but forgives a little sloppiness. “White Car,” however, felt pretentious with female spoken word parts and seems to be trying a bit too hard to this reviewer. This is one of those ideas that might better have been served for additional development or left off altogether. A brief instrumental called “Echopool” is a mellow, pleasant piece with acoustic interludes and offers a nice change of pace. “Kissing Chastity” is a spacious sounding track with well-written lyrics and goes by rather quickly. The pacing of many of the songs is an asset here as none of the tunes overstay their welcome.

“Moon And The Tide” is an especially good song with acoustic and slide guitars floating in and out as Frazier harmonizes his voice very well. Lyrically it’s perhaps the best moment on Brainclouds. Here, Frazier’s voice sounds like a combo of Collective Soul’s Ed Roland and Cat Stevens, and it really works. No reason this song couldn’t be heard in a film or commercial.

Brainclouds proves to be an enjoyable listen from start to finish. Frazier’s musicianship, writing and production are all to be commended here as well as his willingness to explore a variety of styles and sounds without sacrificing artistic integrity.


John Frazier Bandcamp site: http://johnfrazier.bandcamp.com/

John Frazier website: http://www.john-frazier.com/

 

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