Click to hear: “Gandhi”
“The envelope, please.” [A hush, anxious whispers.] “And the Local Rock Album of the Summer of 2010 is: Silver Tower, by Brenda.” [Applause, musical cue, curses, etc.]
The indie-rock trio Brenda’s first full-length is destined to be the soundtrack to the season in Portland this year. A collection of 10 alternately brash and breezy tracks, it’s got enough pop and rock to instantly gratify and the brains to keep you coming back.
Brenda singer/guitarist Josh Loring and bassist/keyboard-player Peet Chamberlain were half of the celebrated Cult Maze. Ex-Maze bandmate Jay Lobley (now leading Metal Feathers) produced Silver Tower, an album that (not surprisingly) has the cool brilliance of Cult Maze’s great work.
The highly regarded session drummer DJ Moore is the third element here. His playing has a lot of character and drive, and really comes to the fore on tracks like “Delegator” and “Intro.”
Four of the songs here previously appeared in rougher, more lo-fi form on Brenda’s late 2008 debut EP, Let Loose, including the bouncy opener “State Lines” and “Gandhi,” whose great guitar hook shines even brighter now.
The newer songs are just as strong. “Blackout,” a slinky rocker, hangs a marvelous instrumental leftie about two-thirds of the way through that really hits a groove. “Shaililai” brings the smart-pop of Spouse to mind — a jangly, insidiously catchy three minutes of music. The proggy “Pill Hill” bolts out of the gate, then floats away into a shimmering, druggy outro just a third of the way in.
In retrospect, Cult Maze’s demise wasn’t a tragedy after all. Now we get two distinctive, original bands — Brenda and Metal Feathers (who are supposedly preparing their sophomore album for imminent release) — making music on the same high level.
Those stupid sweaters are right: life is good. Happy summer.
— Chris Busby
Brenda plays a CD release show on Thurs., June 24, with Bear in Heaven and Lobisomem, at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland, at 9 p.m. Tix: $8-$10 (18+). For more on the band, visit mckeenstreetmusic.com