The Brook Lee Catastrophe
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The Brook Lee Catastrophe

Band Alternative Folk


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The best kept secret in music


"A Wonderful Catastrophe"

Although 2007 is less than a week old, the first memorable album of the year will be released today when the Brook Lee Catastrophe performs at the quintet's record-release party for "The Weight of Waiting" at the legendary Troubadour in Hollywood. Although the quality and scope of songs across the 11-song disc is dazzling, it is just as impressive that "The Weight of Waiting" comes only a year after the Brook Lee Catastrophe released its wonderful debut, "Mistakes Pt. 1."

The group's sophomore effort features pop-tinged folk rock ("Everybody's Asking"), folk ("Big Nothing"), alt-country ("Compressed Black Carbon & A Digital Divide"), and a sparse sonic sketch that segues into a hypnotic rocker ("Constellations (I)" and "Constellations (II)").

Both beautiful and experimental, "The Weight of Waiting" was produced and engineered by Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Dandy Warhols). In addition to singer-songwriter-guitarist Brook Lee, the band includes Paul Mitchell (violin), George Madrid (guitar), Ryan Nakata (bass) and Mike Duncan (drums).

Earlier this week, Lee responded to several e-mailed questions to discuss "The Weight of Waiting."

Orange Pop: Talk a little bit about some of your favorite songs on the new CD.

Lee: We look at the record as a whole, not just a package of songs. It's a road, with dips and curves, and if every corner looked the same, the ride would get boring really fast. So there are surprises along the way.

There are sparse recordings with bare guitar such as 'Constellations (I),' that are contrasted by the driving crescendo of a full-on rock song like 'Constellations (II).' Together this is a song that is over five minutes long with no chorus that somehow still manages to stay memorable and catchy. A song like 'Everybody's Asking' has an upbeat, almost singalong chorus about the transitory nature of life and death. Which is immediately followed by a two-minute character sketch called 'Big Nothing,' in which we follow someone through a self-induced downward spiral.

There are other stylistic nods from alt-country to psychedelic rock. However, they are all anchored with a songwriter's craft toward lyricism and delivery to properly allow the listener to transition with it."

Orange Pop: It sounds like 'The Weight of Waiting' is the second full-length CD you completed within a year's time. How difficult was it to write, and then record and release an album over the course of a year?

Lee: The hard part of any independent band, I think, is finding a way to do all of this yourself. In the last year we released 'Mistakes Pt.1,' promoted and toured as much as possible.

However, as a songwriter I am always writing. And so even from the previous album's recording sessions there were 20 or so songs that did not make the final record. The downside is that I never really feel that people are hearing the newest songs. So already by our first 'Mistakes' tour the band had progressed beyond the scope of the album. So the live show represented something slightly different.

When we got a chance to head into the studio in August we first thought we would only had time to do a five-song EP. However, having worked the songs out on the road already it quickly became apparent that we could just keep going until time wore out.

Three of the songs that are on the record the band had barely heard before we laid (down) the basic tracks. We then built outward until the song was done. By the time the five days we had allotted for the EP were done we were fortunate enough to be sitting on an album that we all felt good about.

Even the title, 'The Weight of Waiting,' is about that same idea of how heavy it is to be waiting for something to happen. Waiting as a band to break, waiting for a song to get heard, and waiting for life to start. So logistically it was a bit tricky to get another record done, but musically it was a relief and fulfilling to get this collection of songs out.

The Brook Lee Catastrophe will perform at the group's record-release party at The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, tonight at midnight. Admission is $12 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. - The OC Register


The Weight Of Waiting (2007)
Mistakes Pt. 1 (2006)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Over the past two years The Brook Lee Catastrophe has built a steady and enthusiastic following with a sound that is at once lush and intimate. Anchored by the classic folk-rock lyricism of veteran Southern California singer/songwriter Brook Lee, “the Catastrophe” – violinist/keyboardist Paul Mitchell, guitarist George Madrid, bassist Ryan Nakata, and drummer Mike Duncan - paints a musical landscape that counterpoints and enhances Lee’s words, filling in the picture with instrumental brushstrokes that merge the traditional with the experimental.

As the second full-length album released in under a year, The Weight of Waiting finds the band delving deeper into their established sound and mining previously untapped influences. The album emerged fully formed after 5 days with producer Rick Parker whose extensive credits include Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Dandy Warhols, & Silversun Pickups to name a few. The resulting tracks capture the vitality of a band deeply immersed in a process of musical exploration and self-discovery.

The fruits of this exploration can be heard in songs like “Compressed Black Carbon & A Digital Divide”, in which the almost spoken poetry of the lyrics recede into the abstract musical poetry of the song’s second half. “Everybody’s Asking” makes a crafty move into pop territory, counter pointing Lee’s downbeat lyrics with a musical confection evoking Elvis Costello and Van Morrison.

At the center of the album, the spare and meditative “Constellations I” coils its ruminations like a spring finally bursting forth into the striving anthem-like “Constellations II.” Elsewhere, “A Devils Truth” offers an upbeat tale of a deadbeat dad in a country-and-western key, and Lee steps back to his solo acoustic roots for “Big Nothing,” a two-minute character sketch that’s as incisive as it is concise.

At the heart of The Brook Lee Catastrophe’s music is a voice that speaks the truth to sorrow and articulates an idealism that persists beyond youthful naiveté – a realist’s idealism, one that refuses to be corroded by life’s slings and arrows, redoubling its conviction as it stands defiant against a sea of troubles.