Band of the Day

2011.10.13

Brass Bed

Louisiana rockers take 60s-inspired harmonies and beam them into the future
Take a shot of courage and let them know that you’re suffering too.
lyrics from Bums On The Radio

Brass Bed is an indie/power pop band from Lafayette, Louisiana that formed in 2005. The group consists of Christiaan Mader (vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass), Andrew Toups (keyboard), Jonny Campos (guitar, pedal steel, bass, vocals) and Peter DeHart (drums, touches, vocals). Well-read with experimental tendencies, Brass Bed are noted for their eclectic influences ranging from spacey 70s power pop, post punk and psychedelic folk. Brass Bed have toured as headliners and have also played with indie heavyweights such as the Walkmen and Here We Go Magic. In 2008, Brass Bed self-released their debut LP Midnight Matinee on their own Brass Bed records. In 2010, the group signed to Park the Van records and released the Melt White LP to rave review.

With an album's opening track, a band generally has one of two options: hit the listener with everything they've got, or ease them gently into their world. On their sophomore album Melt White, Louisiana's Brass Bed take the leisurely route with “Aria.” Like dipping your toes in the shallow end of a pool, as opposed to diving right into the deep end, “Aria” starts off with harmonic “oohs” before incorporating bleepy, “Beam me up, Scotty”-style noises. The Southern quartet harmonize in choir-like fashion on the line “you know we don't mind,” taking notes from bands like The Beach Boys and The Beatles. On “Miniature Day Parade,” Brass Bed show off their personal brand of sarcastic lyrics as Christiaan Mader sings the opening line “I just want to destroy you with a predicate clause.” But grammar attacks aside, the song is infectiously sunny and upbeat. There's a quick breather with a slowed-down, old-timey Americana guitar solo, that will have you thinking you're wandering around Frontierland at Disneyland. But then, spacey bleeps and guitar distortion effects are incorporated, and the song builds up with a sense of urgency on the line, “you can't fall in love and be alive!” The result is as if alien's had interpreted the best of 60s American pop, and put their brilliantly futuristic twist on it. While The Sex Pistols sang “God Save The Queen” in 1977, Brass Bed are now singing “God Save The Thieves.” But the comparison ends there. Instead of a politically-charged punk song, “God Save The Thieves” is gorgeously dreamy, with heavenly harmonies coming together on the line “they don't care.” And keeping in line with their quirky approach to songwriting is a reference to the folklore surrounding the demise of Elvis: “God save the king of rock and roll, he's choking on his favorite food, he's losing his balance.” What's great about Melt White is that it doesn't just stay on a level playing field. While songs like “Maybe It's Not Me” languidly draw you in with a banjo-driven Americana feel, others like “Pop Mission” have a more vintage punk/garage rock feel with the use of distortion. As the shortest track on the album (2'08”), it delivers just the right amount of an edge before the album's closing (and longest at 6 minutes) track, “Farmers.” It's a slow-burner of a song, gently rolling in before a more rapid tempo shift a few minutes in. It's like when you fall asleep on the beach, only to wake up to have the water just inches away from your spot. In this case, it's a tidal wave of swirling, distorted guitars and bass, with bleepy keys and shimmering percussion instruments that draw from music techniques of the past while maintaining a modern feel.