1. I'm All Smiles [MP3]
2. Stay As Sweet As You Are
3. You Will Be A Skinny Ghost
4. Pasadena [MP3]
5. Pass And Stow
6. Time And All You Took
7. When Stars Burn Or Fade
8. Happiness [MP3]
9. I Will Always Belong To You
10. Something Missing
Brady Brock Warm American Sweater
Alternative Press declared Brady Brock one of the "100 Bands You Must Check Out".
With the release of his debut, 2002's I Will Live In You Where Your Heart Used To Be, on his own Feel Records, 25-year-old New York-based singer-songwriter Brady Brock won the admiration and respect of music critics, musicians and, most importantly, music fans.
Constantly writing and demo'ing material at home, Brock began working on his sophomore record before I Will Live In You Where Your Heart Used To Be even had time to hit stores' shelves.
The result is Warm American Sweater (In Music We Trust Records), an album that is both sonically and cohesively stronger than his debut.
"I recruited a great producer in Thom Monahan because his intentions are creating records that have lasting power and offer something the listener can come back to repeatedly. He creates an atmosphere that allows the listener to hear new things with each play, and he creates records that have a huge amount of substance to them," Brock says, discussing the rich production and full instrumentation of Warm American Sweater.
"He has worked with really amazing artists like J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr., Beachwood Sparks, The Chamber Strings, and The Silver Jews as well as producing his own outfit The Pernice Brothers. We really have a lot in common, and appreciate the same type of music, and the same outlook, so the choice was obvious. I look at his production resume, and I really respect and own ninety-nine percent of the records he has produced."
It was Monahan's resume and own musical endeavors that made Brock think to ask Monahan to produce his sophomore effort, but ultimately it was friendship that sealed the deal.
Calling upon other friends, including members of Califone/Red Red Meat, The Bigger Lovers, Bitter Bitter Weeks, and Miles, Brock and Monahan set out to create a record that was as compelling as Brock's debut full-length, while taking things to the next level.
Brock wanted to expand on both the quality of his debut and people's perceptions of what he could do. I Will Live In You Where Your Heart Used to Be was originally recorded as a demo, never meant for release, though once offered to the public, it garnered critical praise from CMJ, Alternative Press, Rockpile, The Big Takeover, and Harp, to name a few.
Still, Brock knew he was capable of more and with the assistance of friends, set out to make the kind of record you could wrap around yourself like a blanket in times of sorrow and depression, yet still blast on your stereo when things were going great. Enter the aptly titled Warm American Sweater.
"Sonically, it sounds so much better than the first record because we have put more time and care into it," Brock says with enthusiasm. "The sound is much thicker, fuller, and the songs are more immediate. Also, Thom's talent and ideas brought the vision I had in my head into a tangible reality."
"It is interesting, when I put out the first record, I didn't think about the content too much. It wasn't until the reviews started coming in from magazines that I realized that the record was so sad. It really is a downer. Warm American Sweater is catchier and more upbeat than the last one, and certainly has a feeling that hope exists. However, I realize that the songs are still kind of down, but they aren't as desperate as they used to be."
Novelist Richard Yates influenced Warm American Sweater's ideals, as Brock was reading a lot of his books while working on the album.
"Those novels kind of put a mark on me," Brock explains. "His work represents so much incredible false hope. His subjects aim both too high and too low within their goals, and when their desired life doesn't shape out the way they planned, their general worldview comes crashing down. I walked away with this feeling that you can't set false ideals or you will crash and burn, but you also need to maintain hope that the future will naturally take its course. It inspired me completely, and made me realize that sometimes this life isn't perfect. Sometimes things are stressful, depressing, and desperate. However without hope you really aren't alive, but you have to be realistic at the same time. I think that feeling of hope and realism in relation to the human condition definitely shines through on this record."
When asked what he hopes to accomplish with Warm American Sweater, the down-to-earth songwriter's reply mirrors that of the mood of the album; the notion of making money or becoming a star doesn't even cross his mind, instead he prefers to try and connect with people.
"I just hope to continue relating to people through these songs. I hope that I am creating something that others continue to enjoy," shrugs Brock.
"I am in no way concerned with making a ton of money off of this. The ideal goal is to just be able to continue writing and recording records about what we all go through every day. I don't need a big pool and expensive cars to be happy. All of that is just a different world to me, and completely unrealistic and sad. It is basically all about getting to that point in life where happiness and realism comes hand in hand."
Brock gives off a similar answer when asked to describe the record's sound.
"I am not too interested in labels or musical genres. Basically, because once you start labeling something it probably won't have any lasting value. I think anyone can sit down and listen and get something out of [the record]. That is the goal anyway. I want to create music that relates to everyone, and I think the way to do that is just be honest and open with your subject matter. Also, I am pretty tired of hearing irony in music these days, and I just think audiences are much smarter than that."
The album opens with Brock pondering the trials and tribulations of life, asking himself, "Why does this life seem like one bad joke?" With strings fleshing out the song and a sturdy rhythm section backing him up, Brock recalls a relationship veering out of control as he asks his partner, "Where do we go from here?"
Brock then continues to take us through the bountiful and depleted emotions of life, as he struggles to keep a relationship together ("Pasadena"), comes to terms with the hand he's been dealt ("Pass And Stow"), and tries to start anew ("Time And All You Took").
But it is the opening verse to the album's most rocking, upbeat song,
"Happiness", that echoes the sentiments of the album almost too perfectly: Sooner or later happiness reappears and you wake up and realize that all your sadness has disappeared. So talk about your madness while you can, the thought is bullshit, and happiness spoils your plans.
As the song erupts into its full blown, guitar-driven chorus, Brock asserts
"I would love to turn you on tonight".
The album ends on a positive note. When Brock sings "All my life, I've waited for you" over a melancholic piano, the stark contrast sends shivers down your spine as both you and Brock answer the album's opening question, realizing life's downs are a mere step to achieving happiness.
Alternative Press has already proclaimed Brady Brock one of the 100 Bands You Need To Know In 2003, referencing Warm American Sweater Sweater as your starting point. Now it is your turn.
With the recent release of Warm American Sweater, Brock is gearing up to tour the East Coast, as well as playing around New York City as often as he can. He is also looking forward to embarking on a U.S. tour in support of the record.