David Brake & That Damn Band
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David Brake & That Damn Band

Houston, Texas, United States

Houston, Texas, United States
Band Americana Rock

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David Brake remains unknown to most Houstonians. He's a fine songwriter, someone who could probably make a good living selling songs in Nashville. But after a nomadic childhood and finding that he likes the musical diversity in Houston, he decided to stay here, playing mostly in suburban bars, where a musician can make a living.

Spin Around, Brake's second album, is a collection of live originals recorded in area clubs. It's a solid album of roots-rock and country songs that reflect dour times.

The rock songs are top-notch. Kayla Blue is the disc's best, least-twangy track featuring a sunshiney chorus and a story of longing. But the bulk of Brake's songwriting is country music. It's not high-flown and overly thoughtful, nor is it bland radio fare; he hits a nice balance of storytelling and truth-telling.
The title track refers to the information overload Americans receive daily, rattling off everything from war to school shootings to media ownership to child predators. "The world will spin you around," Brake growls. He offers no solutions, but that's sort of the point of Brake's music: He's an everyman observing his surroundings. He's not here to save the world.

Things get a little disquieting on Beer Gut, the disc's closer. The song's narrator is a disgusting mess: he's fat and he "ain't much on hygiene." Brake turns up the twang for effect. When he asks the audience to sing along, you hear a group of people with smiles and beer-gut pride. It's a slightly twisted love letter to the people who support him; the hard-working beer drinkers that keep this city afloat.

Put up all the glittering buildings you want, Houston will always be an industry town. And David Brake is its bard. - Houston Chronicle


Every now and then you get a very good local record that totally takes you by surprise. This is one of those albums, a well-written and performed, well-packaged 11-song country-rock effort by an obscure guy worthy of much wider tradition.

Brake was formerly one of the dueling piano players at City Streets on the Richmond Strip, and in addition to tapping the keys he also sings, plays guitar and bass, and wrote all the songs here. Brake calls it rock, but his strong twang would land this album most often in the country bins, but there are also strong classic rock, blues and adult contemporary undercurrents, not to mention a strict avoidance of lyrical clichés. (Yes, there are some songs about places in -- as the dregs of the genre would put it -- "Tek-shus," but here they have narrative points beyond a mere recitation of towns and rivers.)

"All Mine" is strongly reminiscent of the Beatles' swirlingly psychedelic Revolver tune "She Said, She Said," while on the title track and "Swindler," That Damn Band sounds like AC/DC with a fiddle. On the unaccompanied piano lounge number "Think of Me," Brake shows off his jazz piano chops and conjures more than a little Dr. John hoodoo, while album opener "Even Five to Closing Time (What Do I Do Now)" has a George Strait vibe. Vague echoes of John Prine and David Allan Coe can be heard elsewhere, mostly in Brake's weather-beaten voice, though also in snatches of the lyrics.

If all this sounds quite varied, that's because it is, and that's the way Brake feels it should be. On his Web site, he states his declaration of purpose thusly: "It's all about the song." He doesn't care about what you call his music, so long as his songs are good, and they are, and that's why you'll be hearing a lot more from this guy. - Houston Press


The new album "Spin Around" is a series of live recordings from David Brake & That Damn Band. All of the tracks were recorded live over four dates in three local venues. Brake's competent songwriting and singing is ably backed up by solid arrangements and performances from Damn Band members. Vocally he's reminiscent of John Mellencamp mixed with Jackson Brown, but the music is a welcoming mix of pop and country. The band is tight and well rehearsed, perhaps overly so. Even on the rockin' boogie "Ignorant Hicks" they seem somewhat restrained and never really cut loose, but their performances are competent and professional, executing the challenging turnaround riff on "Bottle of Beer" and the three part acapella harmony intro on the humorous country number "Ugly People" flawlessly. In fact, the production and presentation of the album is professional throughout. The sound is very good for a live recording. The momentary thinness on the title track's fiddle solo provides the only loss to the sonic challenges of recording a live show. Let's face it, we all like to back a winner every now and again, and this band gets my pick as the next act to really break it big...really big. Of course when that happens, they'll move away to Austin or Nashville and the intimate live shows that make up this CD will be just a memory to the folks who attended. Live it up while you can folks. - Music News - Houston's Oldest Music Monthly


David has been a staple on the Houston music scene for some time now and has appeared at the Cajun Catfish Festival, The Hawg Stop Blues Festival, Tuts, and other local venues. With David on vocals and keyboards, Jeff Duncan on fiddle vocals and bass, Ronnie Dobbs on lead guitar and vocals, and Chuck Payne on drums--this tight-knit group knows how to please an audience. My favorite thing about David's albums are that he mixes it up, with a two-stepper following a kick-butt rocker, and then a pop song--and they all work! Recorded live over the last year or so at local clubs, all of these original songs rank right up there with some of the best local music I have heard in years. This album is a good example of that eclectic mix, from the opening social commentary on the title cut that touches on everything from Iraq to Enron, a gut-bucket rock n' roll cut that will raise your consciousness while you wear out your dancing shoes, and the pop-rock ballad "Greyhound Bus", a semi-love song with great grooves, to the dreamy ballad "Kayla Blue", a beautiful sound that will stay in your head long after it's over. The beer and drinking songs are plentiful--from the icehouse anthem "Bottle of Beer" and the fabulously humorous "Bar Tab Blues" (about taking out a woman who drinks an awful lot leaving him unable to "pay Brenda's bar tab" and eventually losing her to Bill Gates who ends up on the street because he can't either), to the beer-joint hillbilly ballad "Beer Gut" (where he lament's that he "can't see my willy, hope it's still there" among other side-splitting anecdotes), making this trilogy into a singalong paradise. His ode to "Ugly People" is a foot-stompin' two-stepper that tells it like it is (and he sure sounds like Charlie Robison doin' it), and the lovely "I Got Friends" is as good a love song as it gets. This is an excellent example of local talent at it's best, and it's a well-produced effort that is sure to please every music lover. For the best effect, pick up a copy at one of his live shows. Find him at www.thatdamnband.com. - North of the Border Magazine


12 new songs, all played live, yes David Brake and That Damned Band are back. Live albums are notoriously difficult to pull off for many a reason and, in my opinion, every band that is worth its salt has to release at least one in their career. They open with the title track with a Bob Dylan style verse and Billy Joel rapid delivery a la We Didn't Start The Fire. It has a strong, simple chorus and it allows the band to set out their stall as a tough live band. Greyhound Bus is good modern country rock and suits Brake's easy style. He has the ability to become another great American storyteller. It's so easy to listen to this band and they are on top form on Kayla Blue. She Owns My Bones leans toward classic country and although it's a bit sedate for me I'm sure that it will please those many country fans out there. There's some more contemporary country on Ugly People and I Got Friends is pleasant enough middle of the road fare.

Ignorant Hicks is Eagles style country rock and a jovial dig at city dwellers whilst the effortless Kingdom Of One is top class new country - a standout. Bottle Of Beer is more traditional country and not particularly inspired and Jennifer's Leavin' is standard fare new country. Things lift up with Bar Tab Blues, a great example of Brake's excellent songwriting skills and the album finishes with Beer Gut. The fun filled lyrics obviously strike a chord with the men in the crowd and there's some good interaction with the audience at the end but it's a woman's voice that you hear most clearly.

It takes a good band to pull off a live album - this is a good band. - NetRhythms


It took three years to get the sophomore release from David Brake, but it was worth the wait. "SPIN AROUND" elevates Brake and That Damn Band to another level. Brake's writing is as solid as ever, and his performances are a testament to a maturation of his entire experiential world. This is a live album with cuts recorded at three different locations, but the engineering is such that you'll get that studio feel throughout the disc. Brake was truly captured in these recordings, and you'll enjoy each cut as if you were right there at the taping. His voice is superstar quality in range and dynamic. On top of great poignant songs, he has some comic gems like "Ugly People" and the tongue-in- cheek "Ignorant Hicks." David Brake and That Damn Band are a foursome of dedicated musicians who have a real future. Jeff Duncan holds his own perfectly with fiddle, bass, and vocal work. Ronnie Dobbs and Chuck Payne round out the quartet, making as talented a group as you can find. This album is what happens when country thinking meets rock influences. Aside from being a great group of guys, Brake and the band are on their way to watching their spin count rise. - My Texas Music


David Brake and his band have been described as Texas Y'Alternative and on listening to Lean Mean Texas Machine it's not hard to understand why. He covers a number of genres on these eleven self-written songs and succeeds on all of them. The opener, Even Five To Closing Time (What Do I Do Now) is a straightforward contemporary country sing-along with Billy Curtis' fiddle in top form. The eponymous title track is country rock with heavy slide guitar and is grungier than the more traditional opener. Born In A Bad Mood has blues overtones and its cagey introduction builds up into an excellent blues rocker � with fiddle!! There's a return to the heavier side of country rock on Swindler with its Eagles style vocal harmonies whereas there's a hint of Bob Dylan in the arrangement of Cowpunks, Angels and Architects which is delivered in a country/folk/rock style. The first slow song on the album is 101 tattoos and it is completely different to what has gone before. He adds saxophone and piano, the result being more like a Ben Folds song than blues or country. All Mine brings back the heavier country sound and he almost goes alternative on this. He achieves the alt. sound on El Paso Caf� but the fiddle manages to hold on to the country roots. Think Of Me is a night club piano song and nothing more but the band return to form on The Ballad of Tom Delancy (Love Kicked My Ass). This is unashamed country with the fiddle going good guns. The album finishes all too soon with Sounds Of The Sacred. This is a bit too slow for a closing track in my opinion, (I've said in the past that I like albums to finish on the upbeat) but when David and the band come up with something that is a combination of Tom Waits and Bruce Hornsby then I shouldn't be too churlish. - NetRhythms Roots Rock/UK


Texas music is always diverse and often challenging. But sometimes an artist comes along who wants to engage you in a dialogue. He wants to make you think, even if you’re having fun.

David Brake is that kind of singer-songwriter. His CD, Lean, Mean Texas Machine, challenges your assumptions about all kinds of music from country to blues to pop love songs. Lyrically and in terms of instrumentation, David seeks to shake things up.

There’s another unusual thing about David Brake’s songs. As I re-listen to the CD, having lived in Houston a long time, I find that many of his songs reflect Houston, a city that’s very diverse but also stands on bedrock created by the pioneers and rascals who made this improbable place happen. Since that’s the experience of Texas as a whole, David Brake writes real songs about Texas.

While there’s something to attract your interest at every turn, certain titles stand out:

“Even Five to Closing Time” sounds like a standard honky tonk song at first. Keep listening and enjoy the contrast between David’s rock & roll voice with Billy Curtis’ all-Texas fiddle.

If you’re a fan of British blues, you’re bound to like “Born in a Bad Mood.” This song rocks and Scott Mcgill plays a mean acoustic slide.

Among the more challenging titles, there’s “Swindler,” which is country alt rock to my ears, and it’s a protest song that resonates in the land of Enron . “All Mine” satirizes pop love songs, and still manages to make you feel good.

The centerpiece of this CD is “Cowpunks, Angels and Architects.” It challenges common assumptions about country, although in the end the underdog comes out ahead. The lyric is right out of your life. David uses a Bob Dylan-style delivery, telling you the story rather than simply singing it. It’s involving, it’s funny, and it’s a good story. What more could you want? - Best in Texas Music Magazine


Discography

Spin Around - 2006
Lean, Mean, Texas Machine - 2003

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Bio

Influences include Steve Earle, Wilco, Bruce Springsteen, Jack Ingram, Bruce Hornsby, Robert Earl Keen, Elton John, and The Beatles, among others.