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Band Rock Americana


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"Jim DeRogatis reviews "Gravity""

"Led by three brothers (vocalist Tom, guitarist Scott and bassist Mike) and named for their surname, Braam debuts with an ambitious, exquisitely crafted concept album that charts the intertwining, turbulent love affairs of three typical Chicago slackers. It's set against a jangling, folk-rock backdrop that brings to mind the California sound of the early '70s (Eagles, Jackson Browne)-no easy feat to pull off in a home studio."
- Chicago Sun-Times

"IE ranks Madelaine "Best Of 05'""

What is it with trios of brothers in Illinois who love to form bands? Now that the Loeffler brothers in Chevelle can’t seem to get along following their huge success, the Braam brothers are making some big noise. Their rock is much less angry than Chevelle, but much more pop-radio ready. Braam have all the makings of a successful band — very insightful (and sometimes spiritual) lyrics, guitar hooks that implant themselves deep in your grey matter, and vocals you could listen to all night. And they of course have that final vital ingredient — brotherhood. - Illinois Entertainer

"Mike O'Cull reviews "Gravity""

I'm not sure, but I am beginning to believe the postman recently delivered to my door the single best CD I have ever received from an unsigned Chicago band. I have been covering the Chicago music scene for the past six years as a writer and have participated in it as a musician for two decades and I have listened to and given away a mountain of local records, keeping only a few. This one, however, will have to be pried from my grip. This one is by the band Braam. Their latest release, Gravity & The Right To Fly, is a straight-up rock and roll gem. The record is a concept album (remember those?) following three characters, James, Michelle, and Meadow, playing out their drama of life and love against the backdrop of our fair city. It is an ambitious record and one that goes against theme of attention deficit that seems to have taken over the music world. It is a record that requires more than a few listens to get. Each of those listens, though, pulled me deeper into the world of the record, and I don.t remember the last time that happened. Frankly, I am not through processing this music yet. This is not a collection of radio singles, although some of the tracks here would sound fine blasting out of the dashboard on a summer night. This is, instead, a song cycle or, as the band puts it, a story with guitars.

Braam is composed of three brothers who bear the name that was applied to the band (vocalist Tom Braam, bassist Mike Braam, and guitarist Scott Braam) along with drummer Peter Drefs, the lone non-relative. Their sound is singer/songwriter-based Americana with a little roughness left around the edges, sort of like The Eagles if Neil Young was in the band. The record has an old school 1970.s kind of vibe to it, but that may be due to the pacing of the disc as much as the playing. It seems designed to be listened to in a single sitting rather than a song at a time and that alone makes it different. Through it all, the songs are strong and are made stronger by vocalist Tom Braam and his rough-hewn but intimate delivery. He is not a technical singer, but his voice has a quality that is at once hard to describe and eminently listenable. The instruments all sound big, three-dimensional and, most importantly, live.

Braam is a throwback to the days when we all thought music really mattered, when rock and roll still had something to prove. This is music by people with a vision beyond getting their song turned into a beer commercial. This is about dreams made real and the effort that takes. Braam has made the kind of record that I didn't think anyone made anymore and I hope it sells a million.

" reviews "Madelaine""

This is 2005 release from Chicago`s Braam, whose "Gravity And The Right" release we strongly recommend you all to check out. Like that album, "Madelaine" is hard to pin down and tell you "Braam sounds like "XXX" band". Their enigmatic approach to songwriting co-opts a myriad of varying musical and literary influences. Lead Singer Tom Braam has rough hewned vocal delivery but it still manages to maintain a warmth and intimate character bring the material closer to the chest. There`s a strong 70`s flavor with echo-ings of Neil Young fronting the Eagles. The next decade would be represented by Braam reminding us a bit of The Dream Syndicate, Green On Red and Scruffy The Cat. Come into the 90`s, I guess we can mention, say, The Wallflowers. But, again, Braam have their own sound blending the band`s many, obviously diverse backgrounds and influences. I think the common thread for the band would be Mr. Neil Young, though. His spirit runs throughout giving all the songs here a earthy, gritty, rocking and most attractive flair. Very Highly Recommended!


"Braam defying Gravity"

With jangling guitars, sun-drenched melodies and enduring vocals, comes the debut studio album Gravity and the Right To Fly from the triad of brothers simply known as Braam. While the thought of a concept album may seem like a heavy-handed feat to pull off these days, Braam - consisting of Tom Braam (vocals), Mike Braam (bass / harmonies), Scott Braam (guitars) and Peter Drefs (drums) - somehow successfully pull it off.
Maybe one of the reasons that this tale of a disintegrated relationship giving way to new hope and love works so well is explained in the album's liner notes, which describes it as "a story with guitars." While the story itself is intriguing enough, it's the guitars, in fact, - that soar, swell and splash bright dapplings of light in even the most hopeless of situations - that makes this tale so enduring.
The guitars aren't the only treat here, however, as Tom's vocals range from a contemplative Velvet Underground-era Lou Reed (on the opening "Casual Stance") to Michael Stipe ("James I: Union Station") and even Pete Townshend (on the folkier "Questions"). And the sweet harmonies that kiss these well-constructed compositions - songs that conjure up not only the best of the early Â70s singer / songwriters, but modern-day alt-country troubadour Ryan Adams as well - only add to mix.
Recorded in their own Oak Park, IL home studio, the results are anything but a homegrown effort. With a rich production, straight-forward, honest delivery and songs that range from flexed-folk ("Let It Snow"), alt-country ("Factory Flowers" and "Meadow"), stream-of-consciousness urban jazz ("Smokey Blues, Jazz & Meadow") and soaring rock ("Gravity & the Right To Fly"), Braam's first full-length studio effort leaves its listeners with the longing for more. Here's hoping that they'll be able to defy gravity once again soon. - Tony Bonyata,

" reviews "Madelaine""

When I reviewed the Braam brothers' band, Swingset Police, in 1996, I suggested they were young guys with a lot of raw talent who were going to do something special someday. I love it when I'm right. The three brothers and their friend and drummer Peter Drefs moved from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois, a city with much more going on for musicians, where they proceeded to become complete musicians and songwriters. Tom Braam's voice is versatile and just a little bit smokey, with just enough grit to make it stick with you. The biggest difference between 1996 Tom Braam and 2003 Tom Braam is his willingness to put his emotions on display, to invest everything into a vocal performance, and that will win you over every time.

The differences in the music can be described as the difference between an honestly fascinating and compelling pen and ink drawing and a sublime impressionistic canvas with elements at work you don't even realize are having an effect on you until you really break it down. Scott Braam's overdubbed guitar textures underneath the main chords and brother Mike's superbly rounded bass tones meet Drefs' excitement-generating drumming for what is usually just the backing track, before Scott goes to work planting rows of subtle sounds for texture. It turns anthemic ballads like "Let It Snow" into spine tingling instant favorites. Interestingly, the most powerful song on the album, "Manhattan," is actually the most sparse on the instrumentation front. The enormous sound comes from an open tuning on the guitar, which involves de-tuning the lowest string even lower. It's been done to death, and yet, when it's done correctly, it always feels brand new. Such is the case with "Manhattan."

"Manhattan" is a surreal, powerful and stunning song that should be all over college radio, from an album that is of a consistently high quality, but it's an independent release, and you know what that means. You'll have to root it out for yourself. -

"Richard Milne ranks Braam "Best of 05'""

The music band Braam take obvious care in the crafting of their music..not that reckless abandon isn't applied when appropriate but these guys take the creation of sound seriously. Whether it's the passion of the vocalist or the sting of the guitars, it doesn't take many minutes into their new CD "Madelaine" to know these guys mean it.... man!
- Richard Milne - WXRT Radio Chicago, 93.1FM

"Chicago Tribune previews new Braam tunes"

Raised in the church, Braam brothers a trinity of roots-rock spirituality
By Andy Downing - January 4, 2008

On "Sneaking Into Heaven," one of a half-dozen songs posted on Braam's MySpace page, singer/guitarist Tom Braam worries about his past indiscretions before deciding his best option might be to sneak into heaven "through the back door."

The track, like most in the band's catalog, is largely autobiographical; when reached at home in late December, the frontman speaks candidly about everything from his prior struggles with drugs and alcohol to his conflicted feelings about organized religion.

All of these issues and more surface in the group's songs, which are heavily influenced by rootsier acts like acoustic Neil Young and the Byrds. Tracks like the snarling "Mama I'm Scared" and the devastating "Sad Christmas" display an easygoing chemistry between bandmates, not surprising when you consider that three of the four are brothers. Tom Braam, 41, is joined in the group by siblings Mike, 47, and Scott, 32, (the current lineup is completed by drummer Dave Ashdown).

The three brothers received their first musical exposure in the church; their father was a minister who traversed the country selling bible translations on audio tape.

"I've been in churches my entire life and you can hear that influence in the music," says Tom Braam. "Some of those hymnals were powerful. I still remember my dad singing ["In Christ Alone"] in that booming voice on Easter, 'Up from the grave he rose!'"

With their father on the road, the siblings (Tom Braam is one of five children) and their mother assumed control of the family's small farm in Lake Geneva, Wis., tending to the chickens, horses and a handful of cows. At that point, nobody in the family held the slightest musical ambition.

"None of us had any formal training at all," says the singer. It wasn't until 2000, when the brothers moved to Chicago, that they finally started playing music together.

That said, Tom Braam has wanted to be a songwriter since hearing Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" in his early-20s and has spent the last two decades honing his confessional style, penning songs about heartbreak, divorce, loneliness, addiction and, finally, hope.

"Making a song when you're at your most vulnerable can be a struggle," continues the frontman, who's now happily married and has a daughter. "But those ... are the moments that cut deepest." - Chicago Tribune

"Jim DeRogatis @ Sun-Times on "Kings""

The three brothers in Braam -- singer Tom, guitarist Scott and bassist Mike Braam -- have always been ambitious home-recording artists, crafting two earlier albums of gorgeous alternative-country in their Oak Park studio. But the trio takes things to another level with the absurdly ambitious double CD "Kings I & Kings II" ( As in the past, you can hear tasteful echoes of the Byrds' "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" (gotta love those sibling harmonies) and, in the rougher guitar-rockers, Neil Young with Crazy Horse, though the lyrics of these wistful tales of love and longing are one of the prime attractions. - Chicago Sun-Times


Damn The Dream Killers (2008)
Kings I & II (2007)
Madelaine (2005)
Gravity & The Right To Fly (2001)
Live In Chicago (1999)
Kadickadee Kadickadoo by The Swingset Police
(Black Vinyl, 1996)



Led by the brothers Braam, vocalist Tom, bassist Mike, and guitarist Scott, the band that bears their name is, a decade on, truly a band to watch on the Chicago
music scene. The brothers are joined on drums by x-Boom Hank guitarist Dave Ashdown. Hailing originally from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin the brothers relocated to Chicago in 1998 to build their own studio and start making records, soon thereafter releasing a live CD from a House Of Blues show entitled LIVE IN CHICAGO. The brothers released their first first full length album GRAVITY & THE RIGHT TO FLY in 2001. The record was extremely well received by local critics and helped to define the broad scope and depth of Braam's music.

With the promise of this reception, Braam set about recording a worthy follow-up and in 2004 released a strong sophomore effort, MADELAINE. Drenched with melodies, guitar hooks, and strong lyrical imagery the record received 'Best Of' honors from both The Illinois Entertainer and Richard Milne's Local Anesthetic Showcase at WXRT. In 2006 the band released the mega KINGS I & II, a 17-song, double-record that garnered press in The Illinois Entertainer, The Chicago Tribune, The Red Eye and was highlighted as absurdly ambitious by Chicago Sun-Time Music Critic Jim DeRogatis.

Since moving to Chicago, Braam have become stalwarts on the live club circuit often opening for touring national acts. Notable shows have included
dates with The Waco Brothers, The Pushstars, The Knack, The Pretty Things, Webb Wilder, Bettie Serveert and band fav', The Plimsouls. June 4th the band was honoredm to play the Grammy's Chicago Blues Fest Kick-off Jam at Buddy Guy's Legends with the likes of legends Pinetop Perkins and 5-time Grammy Winner Buddy Guy himself.

Braam is releasing their 4th album DAMN THE DREAM KILLERS this summer and are currently making plans for a mini-midest tour in support of the album. Recorded throughout 2007, the material offers yet another flavor of Braam, one that the band feels offers their most succinct and compelling rock & roll yet.