Chris Brecht & dead flowers
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Chris Brecht & dead flowers

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Netherlands: 5 stars.... * * * * * Debuutplaten zijn toch het mooist. De overrompelende kracht van een artiest die voor het eerst van zich laat horen met een verzameling liedjes waarin eigenwijze passie zich samenbalt tot een artistieke triomf is ongeëvenaard. The Great Ride (eigen beheer) van Chris Brecht is zo’n album. - www.altcountry.nl - altcountry.nl


Scratching out from under the influence of Dylan seems a veritable rite of passage for young songwriters, and Chris Brecht's local debut rewinds thoroughly through the Basement Tapes. His elongated nasal drawl, the easy rhythm of B-3 organ, and restless lyrics cutting sardonic all build upon firmly set foundations; "Readin' My Mind" even lifts its lilt straight from "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." It's testament to the Austin songwriter's talent that The Great Ride is a trip worth retracing. "Night Highway 99" drives a rambler's harmonica into the steel of Lomita's Ray Jackson on "Someone Is Gonna Lose," Eleanor Whitmore contributing fiddle and Emmylou-styled harmonies. "A Song About Lightbulbs" burns mournfully, while "Better Grab My Coat" strips acoustic with a hint of Townes Van Zandt. "Absinthe" and "Belle Streets Midnight" drift though bluesy scenes drawing fatalistic import through Brecht's incisive vision, proving a promising, if indebted, first offering.

- Doug Freeman


Photo courtesy of Jen Hellow
When artist Chris Brecht first arrived in Austin a couple of years ago, all he had on him was his guitar and a harmonica. That’s how he did shows. He kept things simple. This was how Brecht began to captivate local audiences, a straightforward approach influenced by the great folk artists before him, but he was taking things in his own direction.

Now, he’s got a full band and his debut full-length album, The Great Ride. You can see him perform tonight at The Cactus Cafe, at 24th St. and Guadalupe, on the UT campus. Singer-songwriter Sarah Sharp will open the show.

ON AIR:
http://texasmusicmatters.kut.org/2008/06/17/chris-brecht-plays-tonight-at-the-cactus-cafe/
- KUT 90.5 FM by Laurie Gallardo


USA: We always seem to think that musicians who are in Austin today will be here forever -- and Chris seems comfortable in his skin here, true, but how can we deny that this guy just might (just might!) be swept along down the road only to play here once or twice a year before long- Duggan Flanakin www.myspace.com/flanfire - Flanfire


Chris Brecht isn’t exactly sure why he moved from Boulder, CO to Austin about two years ago, but it proved to be a fruitful decision. He released Night Highway 99 Sessions, a 2-song project formatted like an old 45 record, and started making the rounds about town.

There’s nothing really restricting a songwriter like Brecht to the “alt.-country” label. He digs more deeply into traditional roots and Americana, inspired by influences like Dylan but not imitating them. He’s even gone a step further by casting aside digital recording in favor of capturing his sound on a 2-inch reel-to-reel. That’s how he recorded his 2008 release, The Great Ride.

Chris’ll be headlining a show tonight at one of his regular venues, the Hole In the Wall. Check it out: http://texasmusicmatters.kut.org/2008/09/17/chris-brecht-has-a-show-tonight-at-the-hole-in-the-wall/ - KUT 90.5FM


Excellent slice of that old thin wild mercury sound.

Brecht is a troubadour in the Dylan sense. Wordy, poetic (with nods to the Beats) and existing in a space between Blonde on Blonde and the Basement Tapes. This is a collection of ten songs which, while rooted in Dylan’s late sixties sound, stand up on their own two feet and demand to be heard.

The Dylan comparison here is not a lazy shortcut for the critic. There’s no doubt that much of the music and lyrics remind one of Mr. Zimmerman (there’s even a song about lightbulbs.) However as with the Felice Brothers, Brecht has taken a sound and added his own personality to it.

The album starts in cracking fashion with Night Highway 99 (with some lyrics by beat poet Gary Snyder, Kerouac’s Zen buddy) and immediately we’re in 1966 Nashville, the cool, beat Dylan version, no sign of Honky Tonks here. Dead Leaf is another deadpan hip slopealong, the guitars, organ and vocal delivery very much sitting in Dylan’s Rimbaud influenced derangement. This sets the tone for much of the album although Readin’ My Mind has a more country feel with pedal steel and fiddle although the Hammond organ continues to swirl and eddy around the undercurrent. As the album progresses it reflects the looser and joyful abandonment of Dylan after he fled the limelight. Belle Streets Midnight has a ramshackle live quality to it similar to the boozy abandon of the Basement Tapes. This is even more evident on the following song Absinthe where the lyrics (“I got some visions but they ain’t mine/ I can see the clock but it ain’t got no time /across the sky there’s lightning comin’ down/ when I look into her eyes but she was nowhere to be found /she likes to put ABSINTHE in her tea and watch the moon all behind the sea”) come across like Dylan’s stream of consciousness and the guitar is like Robbie Robertson having partaken of some of the green fairy. Proof however of Brecht’s potential is on Every Time I Think of Her, a love song of sorts with a sinister arrangement, growling guitar, spooky percussion and a sense of loss in the lyrics and vocals combine to make an excellent song.

Throughout the album the players (including Brad Rice, guitars and co producer) excel. On the closing song By Train, a six-minute tour de force, they lock into a groove that at times coalesces into a near perfect facsimile of the perfect country rock band.

Overall this is an excellent debut. OK, the Dylan comparisons are strong but I reckon Brecht has the potential to go places if he continues in this vein.

Date review added: Sunday, July 27, 2008
Reviewer: Paul Kerr
Reviewers Rating:
Related web link: Big Pink - American UK


If Bob Dylan and Mason Jennings had a baby, it’d be a boy, and he’d be named Chris Brecht. Brecht brings alt-folk-country to Austin with scruffiness, Woody Guthrie and beat poet lyrical undertones that make you feel like you are sitting shotgun with Kerouac at the wheel. The Great Ride, Brecht’s first full-length studio album release on Dead Leaf Records, hit the airwaves earlier this year and combines a nasal folkiness with guitar strums and lines of unfeigned poetry while sliding in harmonica, fiddle, Hammond B3 organ, and background harmony. The album has a freedom and restlessness with a folksy, bluesy, rock backbone.

Although Austin has its share of artists revamping “Blonde on Blonde,” Brecht brings something else to the table. He straddles a line gracefully, keeping a foot in the 1960s and another firmly planted in the present - in both appearance and sound - using vintage elements authentically. His record reeks of cigarettes, road trips, frosty bottled beer, watching the world from the porch and foot tapping. To put it simply and in Austinite terms, Chris Brecht does alt-country like Kerbey Lane does breakfast: Damn well.

“A Song About Lightbulbs” takes from a little of Dylan’s lyrical genius and mixes it with some Willie Nelson twang - the last few minutes are reminiscent of organ work from Dylan’s “Bootleg Series” - where the Band kicks in and tosses around a bit of heavy organ work. “Every time I Think of Her” is mournful and haunting and lyrically strong, creating a story with vivid images. “Better Grab My Coat” is beautifully simplistic with only Brecht’s voice and a lone, acoustic guitar. “Belle Streets Midnight” channels the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn guitar mid-track that makes you want to put on your boots and dance around the house.

The Great Ride began when Brecht moved to Austin from Colorado in 2005 bringing along his guitar and a love of a hand-me-down style of folk music. In July 2006, he and Brad Rice cut “The Night 99 Sessions,” a two track release that branded Brecht best by being formatted like an old 45. This former release garnered Brecht attention, airwaves and a residency at The Hole in the Wall. His success in Austin has been well deserved as he takes traditional songwriting to a level that not only pays tribute to those who influenced him most, but also incorporates a new authentic sound all his own.

Brecht does The Great Ride with help from Brad Rice on electric guitar, Matt Mollica on organ, backup vocals, piano, Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel, Bobby Daniel on bass, Stephen Bres on drums, Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle and backup vocals and contributions from Gordy Quist, Nina Singh and Falcon Valdez. Brecht mans the acoustic guitar, harmonica and lead vocals. - Ausitn Sound



Just like the good ole days

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter is coming to the Fox Theatre Monday along with the soulful, Colorado-bred Chris Brecht.

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter offers a unique sound that consists of a warm mix of acoustic guitar and viola. Sykes's rough and penetrating voice singing melancholy lyrics gives the music a touch of darkness. Sykes offers her listeners a reminder that music is about raw emotion, even if that emotion is somber rather than upbeat.

Chris Brecht is fresh off his tour of the Northwest and will bring his alt-country style music to The Fox Theatre. Chris Brecht presents a very nostalgic feel in his music which is likely due to how prevalent traditional styles are in his songwriting process.

Brecht is known for using a typewriter to type his lyrics and for recording his debut album The Great Ride in a fashion almost unheard of in this digital age. While many bands choose to record each part of their music digitally on separate tracks, Brecht and his band record all together in a single room on 2-inch tape.

The lyrics complement this with a nostalgic theme of their own. The song "Readin' My Mind" from The Great Ride begins with the lyric: "Remind me of your blue-eyed son, who's been walking for miles and is still not done." As a result, the final product has a very raw, wistful sound and a blend of country guitar melodies with a Dean Martin-like crooning voice.

The Great Ride has received highly positive reviews, and critics often compare his sound to Bob Dylan's.

Together, these two acts bring a harmony of classic style, and music lovers looking to hear some heartfelt songwriting should definitely not miss this show.

- the Campus Press (Colorado)


In a lazy drawl that sounds like a hybrid cross between Ryan Adams' soulful North Carolina slur and Bob Dylan's off-pitch, nasal mutterings, Austin songwriter Chris Brecht croons about trains, lost love and the nomadic life with the same passion and timeless appeal of greats from Woody Guthrie to Willie Nelson. And his devotion to all things retro extends to his songwriting and recording techniques: not only does he use a typewriter to put his poetic travelin' songs to paper, his debut album, The Great Ride, was recorded entirely to 2" tape. "I don't think I'll ever make a digital record, anymore," Brecht says. "I don't think that tape really makes [music] sound old or vintage; I just think that tape adds such a warmth and beauty that digital can't quite capture." This will be Brecht's very first Northwest tour, and though he's flying solo this time, he hopes to return by car soon with his full band, including organist Matt Mollica and his Hammond B3 (because Mollica refuses to play an electronic keyboard, ever.) Let's hope gas prices don't make that tour impossible, because the full band complete with B3 will be a sight to behold. If Bumbershoot and its country-heavy lineup isn't in the cards for you this weekend, checking out Chris Brecht should be. - Seattle Weekly


If Austin alt-country songwriter Chris Brecht’s debut record The Great Ride seems born of another era, that might be because Brecht himself is a little old-fashioned. He writes his songs on a typewriter. He doesn’t own a TV. And though digital recording is standard, Brecht committed The Great Ride to two-inch tape rather than computer memory.

“I don’t think I’ll ever make a digital record, anymore,” Brecht says. “I don’t think that tape really makes [music] sound old or vintage; I just think that tape adds such a warmth and beauty that digital can’t quite capture.” Brecht sings songs about traveling by rail (trains show up in about half of his songs, something he attributes to living near them for a good portion of his life) and love lost. You know, the same stuff that Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan sang about. But while these themes could seem gimmicky or contrived in the wrong hands, Brecht’s songs feel genuine, his lazy drawl a cross between the soulful North Carolina slur of Ryan Adams’ early work and Dylan’s nasal, off-pitch utterings. But in his processes as well as his day to day existence, Brecht prefers the old school to the new. “I grew up listening to, like, the records I found in the box in the basement. And a lot of those were Stones records, and Simon and Garfunkel, the Yardbirds, the Youngbloods, a couple Dylan records ... they just had a sound that I always loved,” he says. “As I got older, the industry kind of made its way from analog to digital records. And there just seemed to be something missing to me sonically.”

Part of that, Brecht says, are the errors, the foot taps and the guitar clicks that can’t be taken out of a taped recording. “The artifacts inside the music, to me, are so much more important when I listen to records, and that’s kinda what I wanted on my own record,” Brecht says. “You’re trying to create something substantial in the artifacts that are left behind, rather than having an album exist solely on a MacBook hard drive. It’s more fun to have 35 pounds of reel to reel tape sitting there.” Preferences like Brecht’s can be cumbersome and inconvenient, or more expensive, as tape recording is. But to Brecht, they’re worth it — and for the uber-modern naysayers who might call a love for dusty vinyl records and tape recording pretentious, Brecht says this: “There’s a certain amount of effort that goes into creating something. There’s more artifact. There’s the residue. I don’t think an artist is pretentious for holding onto that.” - Eugene Weekly


Discography

The Night Highway 99 Sessions (2007)
The Great Ride (2008)
(2010)

Photos

Bio

Chris Brecht and The Dead Flowers

When Chris Brecht moved to Austin in 2006 from northern Colorado, he never expected fate to be so kind. After a series of misfortunes, including break-up with a longtime girlfriend, Brecht quickly found himself with nowhere to live. In the middle of the night, he moved his belongings into a room he rented a room at the St. Elmo Motel, a cheap 26 dollar a night complex on the south side of Austin that was notorious for drug-addicts, vagrants, and drunks. It was the dead of winter and the following night the pipes burst and flooded the room. He stayed regardless and experiences still have a way of weaving into lyrics of songs for his Alternative Country git-up The Dead Flowers. The St. Elmo Motel has since been torn town and Brecht has moved way from that time in his life. For someone who writes incessantly about 10 songs a month, Chris Brecht is now poised to release his 2nd record since those days at the St. Elmo, and everything has changed.
The current project he aptly calls, Dead Flower Motel, is a follow up to his 2008 debut, the Great Ride. The poet-troubadour and his edgy new alt-country get-up, the Dead Flowers are making music that is a complete divergence from the folk Americana that Brecht has created in the past as well as any of the traditional country music coming out of Austin today. The songs are cross country and soulful like music right off the sunset strip in the 1970s, with a fearless mix of Brooklyn-esque raunchy bright guitar tones, swooping organ, jagged electric leads and a perfect landscape for Brecht’s lyrics. With his traditional folk roots far off in the distance, the new material possesses an air of sweetheart L.A. country. No love here. The songs are electrified with new influences shining through and a sound that will re-define the boundaries of alt-country genre. Updates, blogs, poetry, half finished tracks and reflections are posted at www.deadflowermotel.com (the website developed specifically for the album project).

**********

A few months after his stint at the St. Elmo Motel, Chris Brecht met guitarist/producer Brad Rice (Ryan Adams, Son Volt, Keith Urban) at a local coffee shop in Austin. The two went back to Rice’s place and Brecht played some of his songs in the garage. Brad Rice, who was looking to become more involved in production, took a liking to “Night Highway 99” and everything progressed from there. July 2007 they assembled a band, and laid down cuts “Night Highway 99” and an early version of “I Played Cards With the Devil.” The results were so grand that the tracks became the foundation Chris Brecht’s (2008) debut album The Great Ride, also produced by Brad Rice.
The Great Ride is a collection of ten folk country songs filled with gritty guitar, sweeping steel, beat-poet lyricism, and Brecht’s off-pitch Dylan-esque drawl. The reviews were great. Chris Brecht earned comparison to Dylan, Willie Nelson, and Ryan Adams. Seattle Weekly: “In a lazy drawl that sounds like a hybrid cross between Ryan Adam’s soulful North Carolina slur and Bob Dylan’s off-pitch nasal mutterings, Austin songwriter Chris Brecht croons about trains, lost love and the nomadic life with the same passion and timeless appeal of greats from Woody Guthrie to Willie Nelson…” says the Seattle Weekly.
“My last record was really inspired by my admiration for Dylan. I won't deny that…,” admits Brecht. “The words he wrote really lived with me for a long time. They traveled with me to this town. I didn't think much about writing my first record for any one. I wrote it because I was the kinda lifestyle where you leave behind one life for a new one.”
Laurie Gallardo KUT 90.5 FM wrote: "Chris Brecht isn’t exactly sure why he moved from Boulder, CO to Austin about two years ago, but it proved to be a fruitful decision.
There’s nothing really restricting a songwriter like Brecht to the “alt.-country” label. He digs more deeply, inspired by influences like Dylan but not imitating them. He’s even gone a step further by casting aside digital recording in favor of capturing his sound on a 2-inch reel-to-reel. That’s how he recorded his 2008 release, The Great Ride.”
The Great Ride is anything but contrived. From the subject matter to production, the album reeks of authenticity. The record was cut “Basement Tapes” style in three days. With everyone in one room, the band recorded the entire album in the studio live on 2” tape-the way records used to be made. According to Brecht, analog tape “...adds a warmth and beauty that digital recording has a hard time capturing. The whole process is different. ” He even goes a step further and writes all of his song by hand or on his typewriter. Sitting on the floor of his apartment thumping away into the dead of the night, Brecht stays up until 2,3,4 o’clock in the morning piecing his songs together. “When the world gets silent, I can hear, ” Brecht explains. In an age where everything is run by computers,