Cornered in the bathroom (again)

Stephen Brodsky is a bit more prolific than I was aware of. In addition to fronting the slightly revered Cave In (the metal albums at least), Brodsky’s had his hand in Old Man Gloom and Converge, as well as three solo albums. Stephen Brodsky’s Octave Museum is the third, due out November 7th on, where else, Hydra Head records. And like those that came before it, it can be a bit much. Shuffling between genres and sounds with every song, it’s far more ambitious than the singular sounds of his previous solo releases. Regardless of the stylistic roulette, his characteristic LOUD & LARGE turns each track into that that sub-genre as played by Stephen Brodsky. At times they sound like tunes the other Cave In members weren’t interested in, or decided didn’t have enough edge. Others I think he’s just got some pop demons he needs to exorcise and genres he want’s to exercise. Either way, some turn out far better than others.

Now you’ll have to pardon me for cherry-picking, I’ll probably grow out of it, but there are two that need particular notice. In advance, pardon the name-drop — dude likes to dabble.

The smoke-choked riffs that open the record belong to “Voice Electric,” which finds Brodsky joining two unlikely sources: Modifying the Spacemen 3 motivational tools a bit, this burly riff snorts pixiesticks instead of blow. The effect has him ditching his dramatic pop tenor and singing like Thom Yorke and Jon Thor Birgisson (of Sigur Rós) tickling each other. The muscular feel of the fuzzy lead wraps an an iron fist around the pop-metal he wrote before and blows it a kiss. You can hear the electricity in the studio crackling in and out of the speakers when a fiery set of solos cut through the drone. Easily one of Brodsky’s best songs to date.
But then he’s Of Montreal and gushing non-sequiturs and popping out psychedelica. Maybe a touch of Spoon or the Living End? When he does anchor himself securely to a sound, as he does with the swooning “Prove Myself,” it’s one ready for the airwaves. S-Brod and his crew, I should mention, of Johnny Parker Northlup (sp?) and Kevin Shirtleff, return to Beatles acoustic tunes for inspiration. Neatly wrapped in gausy song structure, the tune would sound best nestled between the best Rob Thomas song you can think of and the best Better Than Ezra song. It’s a strange nostalgic result that brings Brodsky back to the chronological birth of Cave In. Charming for it’s unabashedly adorable melody, the piece swings and sways under the subject’s gaze. It ends with the man by himself, his guitar and a room. It’s a cheap trick, but it’s evocative all the same. If only I could say that for all the other antics he pulls on this latest slab of self-indulgence.

Audio: Stephen Brodsky, “Voice Electric”

Stephen Brodsky, “Prove Myself”

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