Interiors (Epic Records)
By: Paula M. Sherman
From the haunting roots of Malfunkshun, Green River, Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam; we are all witnessing the fine growth of a hearty branch on the Seattle Family Musical Tree. And due to the fact that this tree is well nourished with unlimited amounts of enthusiasm and creativity, we as fans are the graced of the magical sound of Brad.
To review this band's new record "Interiors" is a treat, and using the word "magical" in describing their sound is done for a reason. Brad consists of rare ingredients for the perfect musical incantation. Those elements are the well blended talents and tastes of four gifted men, some of whom planted their metaphorical seeds in the ground over a decade ago. The four men of Brad are Stone Gossard (guitar), Regan Hagar (drums), Shawn Smith (lead vocals, keyboards), and Jeremy Toback (bass, keyboards, vocals.)
Here's a quick glimpse of the history that brings us to the present. Stone Gossard met up with Regan Hagar back in the early 80's. Regan's band was the deep-rocking Malfunkshun with Andrew Wood, and Stone's band was the head-banging Green River with Jeff Ament. Andrew Wood would go on with Jeff and Stone to form Mother Love Bone, a short yet powerful union. In remembrance of Andrew's life (which still burns in our hearts), Temple of the Dog rose above with Jeff, Stone, Mike McCready, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, and Eddie Vedder. Jeff, Stone, Mike and Eddie then become Pearl Jam. Regan met up with Shawn Smith, and they formed Satchel, which Stone was a part of in-between Pearl Jam tours. And then Stone heard about Jeremy Toback's bass playing, and then he was introduced into the mix. And from Satchel, comes Brad. In 1992, after a 17 day jam session, the record release of "Shame" was the result. And then the four guys went their separate ways, till now.
Looking at the cover of "Interiors" which sports a contemporary 70's stylish living room setting on the front, and similarly stylish bar setting on the back. It almost gives one the thought that someone's trying to make a fashion statement. Inside liner notes display four pictures of the each band member. The picture of Stone looks like a shot of him getting his hair colored, very soulful. One can't help but see the peace in Stone's eyes. Shawn is looking up, which seems very fitting for this masterpiece of music. Regan is looking right at you as if to say something, but his yellow hair speaks volumes. And Jeremy is on the phone. To look at these pictures without knowing the history, one might have a problem seeing how these men came together to create such harmony. But with the collective efforts of these men is where the magic begins.
The record begins with "Secret Girl", a jumpin' little tune, starts off slowly and gathers speed, coasts a little and keeps your foot tapping the whole time. Then, my favorite song, "The Day Brings", very sweet and breezy. This song takes you on a trip, and it's different for everyone. "...so gather around and see what the day brings, and see what makes you laugh, and see what makes you sing..." these are very powerful words, and if you weren't paying attention to the music, Shawn's voice pulls you in on the celebration. "...make the grey sky blue, yeah I'm talking to you..." "Lift" pushes up next, doing exactly what the song title suggests. The music and vocal arrangements instantly takes you on another journey, as do the rest of the songs on this record.
Illustrating the elegance of each song wouldn't do them justice. Major recommendation here folks, go out and purchase this record and experience the magic for yourself. You will be glad you did. One thing rings true throughout this record. The listener can feel in every song the passion these guys have for their music. And that's what makes it so alluring, intoxicating, and emotional. Shawn Smith has been quoted as saying regarding Brad songs, "I'm sure there are real stories behind them ? I just have no idea what they are!" But even though Shawn doesn't know the meanings, his voice emulates them perfectly. In this writers opinion, there's no need to know the stories behind the songs, because they become so personal to the listener anyway. From the beginning of this record to the end, Brad extends to their fans a compilation of music that celebrates life and music. It is the ultimate audible mantra, with a wide variety of melodies ranging from heavy funky rock to peaceful ballads. Magnificent!
All songs on this record are by Brad. It was produced by Brad and Nick DiDia. Brendan O' Brien assisted with some mixing and contributed additional guitar and keyboards on "I Don't Know", and additional guitar on "Some Never Come Home" and "Lift". Wendy Sutter plays cello on "Upon My Shoulders". And Mike McCready plays additional guitar on "The Day Brings". Package design is by Regan and there's painting by Stone. But is it the painting in the picture on the cover of this record, or is it the painting displayed in the liner notes? Well, that's this writer's first question if I'm ever granted an interview.
We all look forward to Brad's tour, taking place at this very moment through August. I'll be seeing them July 18th at the TLA (Theater of the Living Arts) in Philadelphia. Stay tuned for a concert review. It will to be a magical evening.