Brightwood
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"Brightwood - Wake Review (8.3/10)"

Random circumstances are the origin of relationships. Right place-right time situations control our lives. Brightwood were the lucky bastards at the heart of a certain period in life when things couldn’t look worse, or, because of how emo my music library was, couldn’t be better. Their darkly shaded piano melodies and Andrew Brittell’s meaty-yet-soft voice transform the spaces they happen to be played inside. Quite magical, really, and The Love Antidote seemed near impossible to follow. For a long time I feared that record would be the band’s only testimony. Brightwood are a merciful bunch, however, and now our children will grow up in a world with at least two of the band’s records. Wake’s 13 songs succeed without retreading. They inspire without reverting back to simple lyrics or simpler melodies. The substances within Wake could leave an impact long after you drift towards oblivion. Each moment takes you back and moves you forward. That tingly sensation is normal.

Forgive the gushing, but after a few listens to “Cloak & Dagger”’s wall-banging bass or the Acceptance-like guitar riff of “Vis Major,” you’ll be doing the same. So don’t judge me. Possibly even more astounding than the previously mentioned strength of Brittell’s voice is the fact that the whole record was meticulously produced, mixed and recorded by the band in its own modest living spaces. DIY seems to bring fist-pumps from the punk crowd, but when an alt-pop band uses the word, every yuppie in a sweater vest gets their boxer briefs in a bunch. (I thankfully happen to be going commando right now – Blake.) And yes, there’s less room for sonic mistakes here, but the band has formed an atmosphere without limit or too much sheen. The acoustic and vocal melodies of “Marked & Tied” sound as grand as they would in a billion dollar recording studio. Its watery electronics allow you to peer into a world different than our own.

The understated one-two punch of “Conversations with Stars” and “Dreamer to a Dream” channels so much emotion with airy vocals, stuttering electronics and nearly-too-pervasive metaphors. “Dreamer” may be the album’s highlight, but I won’t know for at least 10 or so years; you know, when the album finally settles. Brittell muses on the oldest of musical dilemmas, but in a way that sheds just a few shades of new light: “I’m in love again / In the worst kind of way / Oh my heart is racing / My voice is shaking / The thought of you.” You’ve heard it before, but never in such beautiful ways.

“The Night” whooshes in with legato guitar strums and a menacing tone. Once evolving into pitchy guitar solos and extra-weary singing from Brittell, Wake’s ambience darkens considerably. Even when compared to equally depressing songs, like drum-heavy and angsty “Wake” or the downtrodden guitar picking of “Marked & Tied,” which sports lines like, “We were not meant to be alone,” “The Night” just feels sadder. Wake’s tendency to whiplash the listener with opposing emotions only makes for a more arresting listening experience. This feature proves the band has evolved through problems of every type, and Wake is a gorgeous testament to Brightwood’s strength and talent.

- Absolute Punk by Blake Solomon


"Brightwood - Wake (8.75/10)"

Outside my narrow music taste of generic scene pop, there aren't too many albums that have been able to grab a hold of me. I've found myself purchasing albums from artists such as Coldplay, Foo Fighters, The Killers and Snow Patrol hoping I end up enjoying the entire CD the same way I enjoyed the single. Brightwood's a different story. Skipping out on several record label opportunities, these guys decided to maintain their DIY reputation and it resulted in another gem. After expecting Wake to be a sophomore slump after a fantastic debut EP titled The Love Antidote, they proved me wrong that they can still pack a ton of emotion into a single disc. There's a nice mix of fast songs with slow songs giving the album a very decent flow. Besides my little pet peeves of there being an introduction track and another silent track in the upper half of Wake, I always seem to be listening to it over and over again without hesitation.

There is just enough pop visible inside of the indie/rock that makes this album accessible to me and my specific taste in music. The tracks that really show off their rock edge would probably be "Sound the Alarm", "Cloak & Dagger" and "Eyes Betray". "Sound the Alarm" features impressive bass work and is a great way to start things off, while the other two do a great job continuing the rock flow that began the album. "Swan Song" was the song that initially got me wanting to review this album, featuring one of the most spine chilling moments in all of music. Just when you think the song is over and it begins to break down, at about 3:05, all of the instruments return louder than ever, thus resulting in one of the most intense spine chills ever. My personal favorite track is "Dreamer to a Dream", which gradually builds up after each verse and leads to one of the catchiest moments of the album, which is just the same chorus with extra elements heard earlier in the song.

The slower songs also play a big part in the disc as well. Although I feel a couple of them disrupt the flow a little bit (see "Conversations with Stars"), these are the songs where the lyrics shine. Go listen to "Wake" or "Night" and you will most likely be struck with a type of emotion that most bands in the scene struggle to deliver, led by vocalist Andrew Brittell and his eargasmic voice.

This has been a full length more than two years in the making, and it has definitely been worth the wait. It doesn't feel as poppy as their debut, but it is made up for with diverse drumming, great guitar work, strong vocals, and better production. I think that Wake along with Love & Reverie's The Mapping (review coming soon!) might be the albums that will help bridge my music taste into other sub-genres. I know this isn't too far off of what I typically listen to, but it's definitely a start. To be honest, I've been getting a little tired of listening to bands that all sound the same, and maybe now I can listen to other styles of music that have a little more indie in them.

After releasing Wake, it's obvious that Brightwood deserves their spot on the top unsigned list. They held up their consistency and released another solid album that deserves to be heard by everyone. Expect big things from this band, whether or not they stay DIY, because they are about to explode into popularity any minute now. - The Daily Chorus by Ryan McDonough


"Review: Brightwood "Wake""

Soundtrack to Your Sweetest Dream
2006 saw overwhelming reviews of Brightwood's debut release, "The Love Antidote" EP, with heaps of love for its thick emotion and captivating pop-laden hooks. Hailing from Portland, Oregon -home to Death Cab's Chris Walla and beloved Stars of Track and Field & The Shins-, indie rock's best-kept secret are back with a full-length treat, succinctly titled "Wake". Bleary-eyed intro "This Present Slumber" welcomes Andrew Brittell's dreamy, well-controlled vocals and puts one at ease on opener "Sound The Alarm", segueing into the familiar bass/guitar harmony and emo-heavy chorus. Once "Swan Song" picks up speed and starts soaring, that's when you really pay attention to how well this band produces and works the arrangements. "Vis Major" takes a slow turn, building momentum for an intense crescendo ending. "Conversations with Stars" draws one into the innermost depths of Andrew's subconsciousness, and by the halfway mark, you start to get a feel of Brightwood's penchant for spacey, intricate guitarwork and big-hearted choruses, forming a strong backbone as the album cruises through "Dreamer To A Dream", "Cloak & Dagger" and "The Night" without losing focus of its direction.

47-second intermission "Through a Glass, Dimly" gives way to beautiful title track "Wake", the most well-crafted song on the album, as Andrew croons to a distant love "Tie me up, don't let me run / 'Cuz another day without you, is another lifeless one" amidst the breathtaking, atmospheric soundscape. As "Wake" comes to a close, the aching "Taken" makes one last stab at sorting out affairs of the heart.

It may surprise some that Brightwood is currently unsigned - with good reason. The band's dogged DIY sensibilities have given them full exploratory ground in search of themselves, and they seem to have done so with a work of such caliber. Their aversion to label support and the "genre-pigeonholing" that comes with it makes complete sense; and thanks to the band's acute self-awareness, this is one dream you won't want to wake up from. [4/5]

"Wake" hits stores 19 July.

Picks: "Swan Song", "Cloak & Dagger", "The Night", "Wake", "Taken"
For fans of: Augustana, Switchfoot, dreaming, drifting through time and space

- Indiependent Music by Jingying


"Brightwood - Wake Review"

Oregon has produced something bigger than Nike and that is the indie/rock band Brightwood. The four young gents have already put their name on the map with their astounding debut EP and now with their new full-length, Wake, this is the time for them to shine.

So what can listeners expect from Wake? Let’s just say the guys have perfected their craft and it shows in tracks liked “Swan Song” which showcases a cross between Coldplay and Acceptance. What really sets the pace for the band is the dueling vocals between brothers Andrew and Stephen Brittell. They complement each other flawlessly and backed with the melodies create a solidified debut full-length. The band also turns up the tempo a bit with the song “Sound the Alarm”. Previous listeners will enjoy hearing the guys pushing the bar higher The sky is the limit for these guys.

--Chris Conlan - Decoy Music by Chris Conlan


"Brightwood - Wake Review"

Never since the release of Acceptance's "Phantoms" have I been so taken aback by a select collection of songs. "Wake," the long awaited debut LP from Portland, Oregon's Brightwood, is an album that overwhelms - both sonically and emotionally. At times downright heartbreaking, at others astoundingly optimistic, it is an effort that displays music's ability to shake the soul and leave the listener entirely vulnerable. A true testament to the spirit DIY, this is the way music should sound. Slightly more layered and experimental than many similar pop-rock collections, the album carries a far greater shelf life than many releases of their contemporaries. To think that a band having only released one prior EP could put together one of this year's best releases is an awe-inspiring feat - even more so when one considers the self reliance that the band epitomizes.

A fan such as me can only hope that a record of this stature will find a way to reach so many unaware listeners.

"Wake" is everything I've waited for and more.


Pull me in. Don't let me drown. This will not be easy, you'll have to hold me down. Tie me up, don't let me run. Because another day without you is another lifeless one.

I'm in love.
And I'm inspired.

Who knows what will become of this?

- Sleeping With Headphones


"Brightwood - Wake"

Brightwood are a greedy band. Most other bands don’t get to do what they do. Most bands either chose between highflying guitars, hard-hitting drums, or pop melodies. Well, one of those wasn’t quite good enough for Brightwood. But why should it be? If you can blend all three of those things into an orgasmic musical explosion, then why not? With this, Brightwood have set themselves a part from any scene, genre, or normal musical classification.

The guitars remind of a much more toned down Circa Survive. While no where near as eccentric as Circa, they use a lot of echoing and extended notes to create a near prog rock feel for some of their songs. The save most of these moments for choruses, which is good as it adds a little bit of urgency to the feel of the song. The drumming is extremely diverse. At times it is very heavy and quick, at others it is toned down to a very normal pace.

Vocally, Andrew Brittell is very impressive. It takes a strong voice to fit with all of the different influences that Brightwood pulls from and he does it very well. His vocals stay in the mid-range of pitch for most of the time and that works very well for him. He doesn’t seem to try too hard with his singing, as he stays in a very good and controlled range. A lot of singers today try to out of their range and it ends up in disaster.

Overall, Brightwood are on the right track. They have created an album that doesn’t disappoint on any tracks and yet stays away from being generic or having all of their songs sound the same. Wake is a very good album. This album delivers, and that’s all there is to it. - Highbeam Review by Bradley Babendir


Discography

Wake - July, 2008
The Love Antidote (EP) - February, 2006

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Bio

Over the past couple of years, Portland's enigmatic alt/rock band, Brightwood, has garnered an unprecedented amount of attention for an independent band. With their first release in 2006, "The Love Antidote (EP),” the foursome found themselves thrust into a flurry of industry politics and a figurative game of musical chairs.

What started as a DIY demo recorded in the band’s makeshift laundry-room/studio turned into a genuine phenomenon. Even before its release, Brightwood’s self-produced EP had generated a substantial industry buzz and the band’s following had already begun spreading like wildfire. Inevitably, a multi-state tour followed in support of the album, drawing hundreds of new fans from across the western US.

Among many accomplishments following the EP, the group went on to be chosen for a spot on the Ernie Ball Stage at the nationally renowned Warped Tour. Their songs landed multiple placements in popular reality television shows including MTV’s The Real World and Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club. After having exceeded 2 million plays on myspace and sharing the stage with reputable acts such as Mute Math, Waking Ashland, and Landon Pigg, Brightwood was well on their way to becoming a household name.

When the hype from “The Love Antidote” settled, the group was forced to take a close look at the many opportunities that had been presented them and plan their next step. After much painstaking deliberation, the band collectively decided that before they felt comfortable making a long-term commitment to a label, they must first develop “their sound.” Although the success of their first album was undoubtedly welcomed by the band, Brightwood didn’t feel that it was a fully accurate representation of what they wanted to do with their music.

With “The Love Antidote” under their belts and a renewed confidence in the possibility of being independently successful, the band decided to follow the same formula; to self-produce their debut full-length. The decision was made, and there was no turning back. Writing immediately commenced, the studio was upgraded, and day jobs were put on hold.

Before long, Brightwood was sitting on about twenty new song ideas waiting to be cut. Over the course of the next year, the band took a hiatus from performing live, and dedicated themselves to carefully chiseling what was to emerge as the their debut proclamation. “Wake,” was released on July 19th, 2008, and is undoubtedly a profound reflection of this foursome’s hard work and unyielding passion.

Brightwood’s first full-length album has been eagerly received by devoted fans and critics alike. The band has been relentlessly touring the nation in support of the new album, and there is no indication of slowing down. So far the future for this young band appears to be limitless. Having proven that they can independently and successfully create music with the innate ability to move people, Brightwood is quickly becoming a veritable sensation.