Now that I’m swamped with parenthood and work (who does that?), I think I’m going to spend some time with my existing collection. Since I’m not coming to these albums anew, these reviews will be less formal and shorter than my other reviews. Without further ado, let’s kick things off with this 1993 release by Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s side project with honey-voiced Shawn Smith, also of Pigeonhed and Satchel.
Actually Brad is an awful lot like both Pigeonhed and Satchel. Pigeonhed’s the funkiest of the three, but they’ve all got plenty of groove in them. Anyway, Brad’s the only one Gossard’s in. And that’s pretty much all I needed to buy this CD back in the day.
I didn’t take this with me to my summer exchange in Norway, but even just the thought of it sustained me through some lonely times. Just knowing that there was a band that made beautiful music out there that was adored pretty much only by my friends and me made it feel like I had a girlfriend to come back home to at the end of the summer. It wouldn’t be the last time my CD collection gave me more affection than the fairer sex. Or that I shared a girlfriend with my friends.
The band is a great side project for Gossard. Pearl Jam’s other guitarist, Mike McCready, is the more virtuosic of the two, and gets all or most of the solos there. But in my opinion, Gossard’s the more soulful one, and many of the songs here showcase his style well.
But it is a side project, and many of the songs feel kind of unfinished. And at this stage in life, I’m much more sensitive and critical to an album’s or band’s weak points and flaws than I was as a teenager. As such, I’m liking this quite a bit less than I did then. It’s still a great disc, but it’s not quite pedstal-worthy. I really dig “Screen,” but the timbres and harmonies really make me uncomfortable. I’m also merely in like with a good portion of the second half of the record, where the unfinished nature of things is the strongest. And finally, I can’t ignore the very end where there’s a spoken word track with evil effects on the voice while the orator takes on a fictional role (I hope) as an abusive man and yells at significant other. I never liked it, but worldly wisdom has only made the minute or so seem even darker.
I’m not sure I noticed in 1993 how open and spacious these songs were. Like “Nadine” has this great space between all the instruments. Everything’s nicely placed, sounds fantastic. It’s warm, open, and rich. I probably did notice it then, but I just noticed me liking it, not why I was liking it.
Keep: “My Fingers,” “Nadine,” “Screen,” “20th Century,” “Good News,” “Raise Love”
Like: “Bad For The Soul,” “Down,” “Rockstar,” “We”
Filed Between: BR5-49 (Coast To Coast Live) and Brad’s Interiors
- Buttercup – Love it. So slow. So well constructed.
- My Fingers – Excellent.
- Nadine – There are some sounds in here that make me feel really uncomfortable. Like nauseous in a way. But I don’t remember having that sensation back in 1993…just liking the sonics and the songs.
- Screen – Here the bass and piano lay down a very rich bed even though it’s just the two instruments. Well vox and drums, too, though the drums might even come in a little bit later. Guitar doesn’t come in until the chorus. Again, there are some notes in here that really make me uncomfortable. Such a great start. Piano sounds an awful like the Mother Love Bone song “Man Of Golden Words.”
- 20th Century – Starts off with that great groove.
- Good News – Great.
- Raise Love – The chorus gets a little old.
- Bad For The Soul – Only 1:11. Transitional.
- Down – So slow and languid.
- Rockstar – The weakest point on the album. It’s really just kind of a mood piece that sounds like it came out of playing around in the studio. It finds a little groove and stays there. Not bad, but not anything that grabs you, either.
- We – The song part of this is one of the best tracks on here. I’d love to be able to keep it, but that ending, where he’s got the evil voice and is doing a verbally abusive thing to, I assume, a fictional wife, is just impossible to listen to without literally getting nauseous.