Paula Cole begged the question “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” on her mid-90s mega hit of the same name. Apparently Paula, a few of them are hanging out in Austin, Texas.
Chris Brecht and his band Dead Flowers are responsible for one of the more underrated releases of 2011. Dead Flower Motel is a 3 AM barnstormer of a record that would prove a welcome addition to the jukebox of any West Texas honkytonk. Brecht has an artist’s eye for detail that provides the story for this smoky, whiskey-infused backdrop.
Daytrotter’s Sean Moeller wrote of Brecht, “We know it in our hearts – that we’re weak and expendable – but we also can see the beauty in that. We are brief and we are supposed to make the most of it. Brecht does this by finding the beauty in the smallest things, those toss-away details that, for many, are imperceptible, but they’re the bits that make a writer great and make a satisfied person.”
Concise, vivid songwriting is too often taken for granted in the indie scene. Blogs like Pitchfork appear willing to promote acts that fit a certain image, while the music itself plays second fiddle. (See: We Listen For You) As a result, artists like Brecht tend to slip through the cracks.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, Dead Flower Motel keeps the music simple and employs Brecht’s unique perspective to elevate the songs. I don’t wish to short change Dead Flowers. Their play provides a solid foundation for Brecht to draw from. The music has a subtle, haunting quality that pairs well with his mellow angst.
Brecht appears keenly aware that his message is lost on certain crowds. On “Not Where You Are”, Brecht writes “If you think that I’m wounded/It’s my soul that bleeds/Cause you’re judging a man/By the brand of his jeans/You have everything you want/Because you’re parents were rich/And you sit around and pretend/ How hard it is.” The lyrics read like a giant middle finger to the snobs whose club Brecht has never been allowed to enter. He continues, “I don’t want you to get it/I don’t want you to end/You can’t even pretend/To know where I’ve been.”
Dead Flower Motel is a tough sell. The music is too country for indie fans, and Brecht’s delivery is too indie for traditional country fans. Regardless of which crew Brecht eventually falls in with, his story is worth hearing. Click HERE for a free stream or download of his Daytrotter session.
Written by Rob Peoni
Sometimes you miss an album. An album that suits you so well, you wonder why friends haven’t beaten down your door, music in hand, forcing you to listen. Since starting this blog, my friends have developed a tendency to constantly test my knowledge of the latest bands, despite my willingness to admit wholeheartedly and unabashedly that I do not know everyone. Nor will I ever. The endless opportunity for discovery remains one of the most beautiful aspects of music, or any art form for that matter.
My ability to “keep up” with the latest and greatest, if anything, has been hindered by the launch of Thought on Tracks. Writing takes time. I fail to understand how Sean Moeller has time to accomplish even half of the work that drives his phenomenal music project Daytrotter. Thank you for your lack of sleep and dedication, sir. We are all indebted.
A 2010 release from Brooklyn’s Partisan Records recently slipped beneath my ocular radar. Mountain Man’s Made the Harbor. Holy shit, y’all. Don’t let the band’s name cause confusion. This trio is all woman. Three glorious voices weaving impeccably as they break new ground upon song structures that have a timeless, almost religious feel. Had the church choir sounded anything like Mountain Man, I may very well have entered the priesthood.
I missed Mountain Man’s July 23rd performance at Radio Radio. Out of town for a wedding, I hadn’t bothered to look into a group that I heard nothing about. Then a few days ago, LaundroMatinee released a couple of videos from a private recording at Big Car Gallery. Mountain Man’s songs hit like lead bricks, weighted with fresh takes on traditional American parlor music. They play like a more intimate Typhoon, a Portland band that has recently found my affection.
Download Made the Harbor. Spin it on vinyl. Steal it from your neighbor. Do what you must, but do not let this album pass you by. I already regret the few months that it escaped my ears. Also be sure to download Mountain Man’s stunning Daytrotter Session taped last October, available for free HERE.
Written by Rob Peoni