Brian Deer
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Brian Deer

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"Indy Star review of "Black Cloud Talk""

Brian Deer, "Black Cloud Talk."

Chet Atkins and Eddy Arnold helped establish the "countrypolitan" sound by adding piano and strings to Nashville tracks.

With "Black Cloud Talk," Brian Deer edges toward something that might be classified as "alt-countrypolitan." Rural rocker Deer (ex-Citizens Band) downplays the twang on his solo debut and elevates pop textures.

It's not "pop" in a lowest common denominator sense, but sweet and sophisticated pop the way the Beatles played in 1965 -- the year they covered Buck Owens' "Act Naturally."

French horn and cello appear on "Black Cloud Talk," which ranges from the stark stillness of "Inside Your House" to the avalanching din of "Domino Effect."

The sonic achievements make an engaging cocoon for Deer's heavy-hearted lyrics. Opening track "Sad Song" explores an only-happy-when-it-rains philosophy and sets the scene for what's to come.

Brian Deer is scheduled to perform Jan. 8 at Birdy's, 2131 E. 71st St. Visit

- Indianapolis Star

"A&A Review of"

Jon Worley

Anyone who gets Robbie Fulks to pitch in on his album must be doing something right. Add members of Bright Eyes and Sonia Dada to the guest list, and I started to wonder how many pals this guy has.
If songs could make friends, Brian Deer would have a million. He writes tightly-crafted, easy-going snippets of joy. The lyrics aren't always (or even mostly) joyful, but the end result is happy, nonetheless. It's exceptionally difficult to make such well through out music sound so loose, but Deer does a nice job with it.
There's still that "I'm a damned good songwriter, and I'm gonna make sure you know it" sheen to many of these songs--and that's alright by me. While the production is sterling (and often quite inventive), this still sounds to me like a collection of demos that Deer plans to send out to the more fortunate (and famous). And while I cringe thinking at the damage Nashville would do to these delicate masterpieces, it would score Deer some (I'm sure) welcome ready cash. These songs are good enough to be destroyed by a "major" artist, but they're probably never going to sound as good as they do here. Most pleasing.


"News-4U Review of Black"

Theresa Culver

Local boy (well, he's from Indianapolis), makes us proud. Deer handles his task as singer/songwriter well. He's like a cross between Bloomington legends Old Pike and Jackson Browne. The album's opener is a ferocious pop ditty with four-on-the-floor drums, chiming guitar, fuzz bass, and a killer Running On Empty-esque hook. The album flourishes with a bouncy beat, organ runs, acoustic rhythms, and copasetic hooks. One of the highlights of Black Cloud Talk is the fact that it features members of Sonia Dada and Bright Eyes and fellow singer songwriter, Robbie Fulks, an integral person in the upstart of Bloodshot Records. That's an impressive backing band, my friends. I'm not sure if this one's in the stores around here… yet… but give it time as Deer is soon to be moving up to the big league. Until then, head over to and pick up a copy there


"Indianapolis Music Net Review of Black Cloud Talk"

Rob G.
Indianapolis Music Net

The "extended hiatus" of Citizens Band has afforded singer/guitarist Brian Deer the opportunity to explore a more pop oriented direction than that of the popular roots rock band. His first solo album "Black Cloud Talk" is a multi-layered record which stays clear of the alt-country sound one might expect from Deer given his work with Citizens Band. Though the focus of the album is on Deer's clear voice and somewhat melancholy songs, "Black Cloud Talk" also avoids sounding like a singer/songwriter project and ends up in the same alternative pop ballpark as Wilco.

Producer Matt Thompson and an excellent cast of backing musicians support Deer's songs well and add many interesting textures to the album. While troubled relationships form the core of the songs, Deer's optimistic delivery and the music that surrounds it keeps "Black Cloud Talk" from feeling like a drudge through someone's darkest moments. Even a song with a title like "Sad Song" comes out on the catchy side the way Deer performs it here. All in all, "Black Cloud Talk" is a sophisticated pop record highlighting an artist willing to try something new and succeeding in that direction.


"Miles of Music Review of"

Miles of Music Staff

You have to take the cover art of Black Cloud Talk at
face value. There is a heartless tin woodsman, having
axed the last tree in sight, sitting miserably on the
fresh stump, weeping into his hands. Perhaps this
newly discovered can of emotional worms got the better
of our subject, who has seen the forest and the damage
done. Parallel that with the songs of Brian Deer,
whose writing on Black Cloud Talk reveals the
discovery of hard feelings once the clouds of dark
times have cleared. From confusion over relationships
destroyed to the exposed wound left in their wake,
Deer has captured himself in the midst of his own
emotional rainstorm. Were it not for the positive
yearning in his delivery, nor the predominantly airy
acoustic and roots-pop arrangements, this would be
heavy stuff indeed. But there are weighty moments too,
like the moody, cello threading "Playing With Guns"
and "I'm Not Built That Way". Or the downbeat, but
steady "I Don't Want To Fight", which has some
stirring Hammond organ work. Deer honed his roots edge
while sharing songwriting and vocal duties with Matt
Boyer in the Chicago-based alt. country group
Citizen's Band. For this project he brings in several
local pals, including members of Sonia Dada,
alt-country hero Robbie Fulks and Chicago icon Larry
Gray to help build a stark and honest baroque-tinged
folk/pop collection.

Order Black Cloud Talk from now!

"Brian Deer's Black Clouds"

Brian Deer’s new CD is a storm cloud salted with realities from his life and with the power of musical collaboration. Black Cloud Talk is the first solo album for Deer, formerly of the roots-rock group Citizens Band. He’ll celebrate the CD’s release with a show at Birdy’s Friday night.

Originally from the small Southern Indiana town of Haubstadt, Deer came to Indianapolis via Nashville, Tenn. There, he worked for Epiphone guitars and played in a co-worker’s comedy country band. Will Jones and the Western Fringe’s big hit was “Don’t Fart When We Are Loving.” “That was a real trip,” Deer said with a laugh.

Once in Indianapolis, he began working as a music teacher at Indianapolis Public School 16 at 34th and Pennsylvania streets — a job he loves. And one that contributes to his music. “There are definitely situations I see at school with kids that inspire some of the thoughts behind the lyrics,” he said.

He also soon met fellow guitarist Matt Boyer and helped form Citizens Band — a group that gained popularity in its four years in Indianapolis, self-releasing a solid CD of its own.

“Citizens Band was an incredible experience,” Deer said. “We all learned from each other and grew together. I knew I wanted to go a little different direction and this is what came out of that.”

Deer and his former bandmates remain friends. Boyer will be playing behind Deer in the CD release show Friday.

The new direction Deer wanted to go was toward pop music. He said he didn’t want to do another “me-and-my-guitar album.”

“It’s a personal preference, really. It’s more like a lot of what I’m listening to now — Radiohead, Wilco, Modest Mouse, pop alternative stuff,” Deer said. “I wanted it to be a mixture of that band sound along with coming from the singer-songwriter’s perspective.”

But, by turning toward pop, Deer isn’t turning away from depth. “The stuff I listen to is very palatable but also has these underlying layers so that, each time you listen to it, you can pick up this new layer. So, after listening to it 10 times, you’re still going, ‘Oh, I didn’t notice that before,’” he said. “My favorite albums are the ones that you can peel away the layers.”

Deer found the perfect partner in the project with Chicago producer Matt Thompson. The two met each other through Thompson’s mom — who happened to be Deer’s neighbor here in Indianapolis. And they clicked immediately. “He would throw some demos at me and I’d think to myself, ‘That’s exactly what I was going for,’ Deer said. “It’s almost like he just knew.”

The process started in August of 2003, with the two working to make demos in Thompson’s basement studio. “A lot of the stuff, originally, sounded very, very acoustic or singer-songwriter. Some of it sounded a lot like my previous band, Citizens Band,” Deer said. “Matt really started to see a vision for this album before I did, reworking the music for the songs I had.”

With demos in hand, Thompson, a multitalented musician who plays bass for the Mighty Blue Kings, brought engineer Dan Steinman and a group of Chicago musicians into the studio this spring to make the collaborative vision a full-blown reality.

“Matt made available these amazing musicians who could pull off the ideas he was putting out,” Deer said. “It really became a team effort. They all had incredible input and so did Dan Stineman. He was amazing.

“I would throw in my two cents and Matt would say, ‘That’s a good idea, let’s do it this way.’ Or Matt or Dan would say, ‘How about this?’ And I would say, ‘Run with it.’ There’s the mixture of my songwriting with his musical ideas and then you put the band in there …”

This approach was much different than the one Deer and Citizens Band took with that album. And the pop aspect of the music — with electronic drums and synthesizer effects — allowed for many possibilities. “Matt just has an amazing ability to construct these instruments weaving in and out — the tape effects and instruments weaving in and out,” Deer said.

He remembered one session lasting until the early morning hours after a full day of recording. Thompson had a drum loop set up for the song “Veiled Eyes” that just wasn’t right. “So Matt and Dan ran it through the tape machine and did all of these effects to it and it was like two mad scientists with the lab coats on. I was in the background going, ‘Yeah, yeah, more of that.’ We just had a blast doing it.”

Deer said he wanted the album to sound something like Elvis Costello backed by the Cure. Mission accomplished. Deer’s distinct and earthy vocals carry “Black Cloud Talk” and shine best in “Playing with Guns” and “I’m Not Built That Way” — the album’s two cello-and-acoustic-guitar ballads.

The opener, “Sad Song,” and the guitar-driven tune “Small Town Affair” sound — in the music and vocals — much like the 1980s new-wave band the Plimsouls. Deer’s songwriting, with its blend of light and darkness and its influences from the city and the country, mir - NUVO Newsweekly

"Brian Deer follows a new path on “Black Cloud Talk”"

Brian Deer follows a new path on “Black Cloud Talk”
Interview by Steve Hayes
07.16.04 @ Birdy's Live
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Before their recent hiatus, Citizens Band was the premiere roots rock band in Indianapolis . Their sound, part Bruce Springsteen/part Waylon Jennings, filled clubs in Indy and earned them a loyal fan base out of town as well.

The responsibilities of life caught up with the Citizens Band crew, however. Growing families, job responsibilities, and the lure of new projects led the foursome of guitarists Brian Deer and Matt Boyer, bassist Brian McKenna, and drummer Adam Anzeveno to opt for an extended hiatus for the band rather than the more drastic break-up option.

Rather than relax during their hiatus, the dual front men of Boyer and Deer each took on new projects. Boyer headed out on the road to play guitar with Sun Kil Moon (led by ex-Red House Painters centerpiece Mark Kozelek). Deer, on the other hand, took the opportunity to give life to the songs he had written that didn't quite fit the Citizens Band sound.

Deer hooked up with producer Matt Thompson through Thompson's mom, who happens to be Deer's neighbor. In Thompson, Deer found someone who could turn the sounds he was hearing into real arrangements. The collaboration proved fruitful and produced Deer's first solo record, “Black Cloud Talk.”

Citizens Band fans expecting the same twang from Deer's record might be shocked. Though two of the record's songs, “Sad Song” and “Playing With Guns,” did come from the Citizens Band set, the disc is definitely more of a venture into lighthearted pop and away from anything remotely Americana . To use another alt-country-turned-pop icon, Jeff Tweedy, as a comparison, “Black Cloud Talk” is much more Wilco and less Uncle Tupelo.

I met up with Brian Deer a couple days before his CD release show to chat about what it was like to make a CD on his own as well as the current status of Citizens Band. He also shared an early review of the disc that came from his 21-year-old nephew who informed him, “It's not the kind of music I like, but it doesn't suck so I guess it was worth your time.”

IMN: Where do things stand with Citizens Band right now? Are you guys just on a long-term hiatus?

Brian: Yeah, pretty much like a long-term hiatus. Boyer and I are both kind of doing our own things, focusing on those right now. I talk to McKenna all the time, Adam every once in a while. We mention it very little, just kind of leave it hanging there. In fact, something about the article in NUVO today said “ex-Citizens Band” or something like that. McKenna called me and said, “Dude, is there something I should know?” I was like, “No, I told him we were kind of on hiatus.” But, yeah, it's just a long hiatus and we'll see where it takes us.

IMN: What had you done before that? What bands had you been in?

Brian: Really not a lot. I was doing acoustic cover stuff with a guy named Mark Smith here in town. We were playing the Upper Room and over what used to be a brewpub on the West Side . I had a lot of songs I hadn't done anything with really.

But before that I lived in Nashville , TN and worked for Epiphone Guitars down there and played in kind of a comedy country band with Will Jones. It was called “Will Jones & the Western Fringe.” His songs were like “Don't Fart When We're Lovin'.” “Skanky” was his big hit. What was one of the other ones . . . oh yeah, “12 Gauge Divorce.” [laugh] Slightly morbid, funny tunes. Yeah, that was a blast. That was great stuff.

IMN: As far as the songs on this record, I know from seeing some Citizens Band sets that I heard “Playing With Guns” a couple times.

Brian: Yeah, “Playing With Guns” and “Sad Song” were both ones that we did in Citizens Band.

IMN: Were you working on those when you were still doing Citizens Band or did these all come after the hiatus?

Brian: Yeah [with the band]. In fact there's one song on there I wrote back in college that I reworked and have always liked that never really fit anything that Citizens Band did. So I decided to incorporate it on this. And then “Playing with Guns” is a very different version than what you heard. And “Sad Song,” that's kind of [producer] Matt Thompson's doing, the guy that produced the record. He came to me with this instrumental arrangement of it and said, “What do you think? I don't know if this is the direction you want to go with it or not.” I was like, “Uh, yeah! That's exactly the direction I want to go. Let's try to do that with some more of the songs.”

We in fact had six of the songs with demos done with acoustic guitar, voice and drums and bass. He re-did the demos based on that comment. He was like, “All right. I'm running with it.” And then for “Veiled Eyes,” he and I worked together on that demo in my house. He came down one weekend. So we started getting the sound architecture idea for a lot of the songs.

IMN: So it sounds like it was a pretty collaborative -

"In the 'Write' Direction"

July 15, 2004
In the 'write' direction
Musician releases his solo effort at Birdy's on July 16.

Artist's spotlight: Brian Deer compares his new CD to a combination of music by Bruce Springsteen and Radiohead. -- Submitted photo

When: 9 p.m. Friday, July 16

Where: Birdy's, 2131 E. 71st St.

Features: Pale will open and Stasia Demos will follow.

Tickets: $7

Buy it
"Black Cloud Talk" is available at Border's in Castleton, Luna Music, Indy CD & Vinyl, the Cath Coffeehouse and at

By Paul F. P. Pogue
INtake correspondent
After several years of twangy-rock stylings as singer and guitarist for Citizen's Band, Brian Deer is striking out on his own with his first solo album, "Black Cloud Talk."

Deer started playing guitar when he was 8 and continued through high school and college, where he studied jazz guitar, classical guitar and music education at the University of Evansville. He moved here in 1998 after meeting his wife, Melissa, and started teaching music at IPS.

Around that time, he met Matt Boyer, and they founded Citizen's Band together. They spent several years playing live and cutting one album before parting amicably this year.

"Black Cloud Talk" started out as an idea for an acoustic album, but under the guidance of producer Matt Thompson, from Chicago, it developed into a larger indie-rock band sound.

What was the inspiration for the feel of the album and the title?

A lot of the songs were written during kind of a bad time for me in my life; relationship-wise things were really downhill. That's where the title came from, "Black Cloud Talk." It starts out with the black cloud thoughts that surround you when those things are going on, and then it also became how to get out of that. Life kind of goes in waves of really dark times, and then sometimes you have to pull yourself out of that, or things can pull you out of it.

How would you describe the sound of the final product?

I guess you'd say indie rock. It's like if you took a singer-songwriter and put them with an amazing backing band. It's almost like Bruce Springsteen or Elvis Costello being backed up by Radiohead or Wilco. The songs are my songs, but they're backed up in an indie-rock fashion with a lot of song architecture.

How is this different from what you did as part of Citizen's Band?

It's really a lot more me and not a collaboration of sounds from four different guys. It steers away from the twang sound, the country influence -- which is not to say that I don't dig that stuff.

I love all kinds of music, but this is the direction I am feeling right now.

What's the current status of Citizen's Band?

We called our last show a "last show for a while." So there's a possibility that we could end up doing something again. We left it open-ended because we're all such good friends and we loved playing together.

As for now, though, this is my main focus for me. And now Matt Boyer is real busy playing guitar with Sun Kil Moon. He's going to be playing guitar with me at the CD release party, so we're still close.

- Intake Weekly


Black Cloud Talk - CD


Feeling a bit camera shy


Has recently opened for:
David Mead, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise,
Matt Wertz, Carey Ott, Scott H. Biram.

As children riding in a car or lovers lying on the beach, we've all looked up into the blue and tried to see images in those puffy white cotton balls we call clouds. Whether we visualize a lion's face or a slice of cheesecake, what we see and describe to others is rooted in who we are. Our perspectives are shaped by our experiences, emotions and current circumstances. And when elements of our lives become overcast, happy clouds turn dark and grey. Sometimes, they even speak to us. We start hearing the black clouds talk.
On his first solo release entitled Black Cloud Talk, Brian Deer writes songs that come out of a place where negative thoughts and things can surround. But they can also lift and disappear as we pick up the pieces of our life. For Deer, these songs are a collection of scenes and moments that capture those emotions, both the dark night of the soul and the hopeful expectation of brighter days to come.
Black Cloud Talk takes the listener on a journey with a destination. From the confusion over broken relationships in Veiled Eyes to the exposed hurt in Playin With Guns, Deer doesn�t shy away from the intimate feelings of loss and need for reconciliation.
People can be emotionally rocked to the point that its detrimental to their health, offers Deer. It affects your physical well-being, and in a way it can be as painful as playing with guns. Guns can go off when you don't expect them to, just like trouble in a relationship can go off unexpectedly.
Troubled relationships are at the forefront of Black Cloud Talk. Perhaps hitting home the most is the track I'm Not Built That Way. A plaintive acoustic guitar gives way to a simple string melody, and lyrics that expose the depth of Deers honesty.
When times were bad, I found myself blaming a lot of people, admits Deer. But I realized that I can control what happens, and even if the horrible things I go through aren�t totally my fault, I can sure try to make things better.
Deer credits the success of his previous group, Citizens Band, for sparking the creativity and courage to begin his solo career. Deer played guitar and shared songwriting and vocal duties with band mate Matt Boyer. A staple on the Indy scene for several years, Citizens Band played its brand of roots rock all over the Midwest and released a CD titled Truck Stop Chapel. As Dave Lindquist from the Indianapolis Star noted, [Citizens Band] plowed straight down the middle with its brand of alt-country/Americana. [They] offered equal portions sweat, urgency, twang and sincerity. Citizens Band also opened for several national acts, including Dickey Betts, Rusted Root and the Continental Drifters.
However, Deer's style as a solo artist takes a different direction. The songs on Black Cloud Talk take their cue from equal parts alternative rock and engaging singer/songwriter, with only occasional hints at roots rock sounds. Trained in both classical and jazz guitar, Deer allows his playing to exist as a layer of the songs, alongside his soulful vocals, soft organs and transparent drumbeats. Drawing on influences that range from Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen to Wilco and Radiohead, Deer creates a unique blend of textures that add contrast and color to the integrity found in his lyrics.
Deer recorded Black Cloud Talk at Studio Chicago with musician/producer Matt Thompson and engineer Dan Steinman. Thompson is known for his bass work with Chicago's Mighty Blue Kings and has played with and produced many Chicago artists. Deer originally met Thompson's mother, who is Deer's next-door neighbor in Indianapolis. She introduced the two and collaboration was formed. Deer and Thompson demoed songs at Thompson's home studio, and once in the studio they called upon many Chicago players to perform on the project, including members of Sonia Dada, alt-country hero Robbie Fulks, and Chicago icon Larry Gray.
Deer's desire for Black Cloud Talk is that listeners might identify with the different emotions expressed on this project.
Maybe they will hear these songs and understand, hopes Deer. And that it might be a record like so many of my favorite records: one that lets you peel away the layers with each listening, and allows you to hear something new each time.
As for those black clouds, Deer can look back and understand their purpose.
These songs move lyrically from one place to another, explains Deer. From a negative time to a better part of my life. Moving out of the Black Cloud Talk, I can look around and see what I have now, as well as what's ahead of me. I feel real positive about the future.
Perhaps a future with fair weather clouds on the horizon.
by Lance Sittig

Brian is currently working on an ep with producer/songwriter Carey Ott(dualtone) for release in the fall of 2006.