Brad Sweitzer & The Young Sophisticates
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Brad Sweitzer & The Young Sophisticates

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE
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Closing out this week’s Listening Party, we have Brad Sweitzer and The Young Sophisticates, a group that mixes equal parts folk-rock and biting humor. Owing a heavy debt to bands like They Might Be Giants and The Dead Milkmen, Sweitzer’s songs are cynical, cleverly written narratives about dating friends’ sisters, overweight rockers examining their party-heavy lifestyles and “odes to pubic hair.” Not surprisingly, some of his songs are fairly explicit, so if you’re planning on listening to these tracks at work, consider yourself warned. We suggest starting with “Canada.” - Mountain Xpress, Asheville, NC


Every singer-songwriter has a guitar. Every singer-songwriter thinks they have a truly unique perspective on the world around them. On the other hand, how many of them can boast songs about abortion AND bowls of cereal?

One and one alone: Brad Sweitzer.

He and backing band The Young Sophisticates will be headlining at North Gate Tavern on Friday, Feb. 22.

“I try to sing about stuff that makes me uncomfortable,” Sweitzer said, having just been jolted out of sleep by a cell phone’s ring. “After I put it in a song, it doesn’t seem so scary; it takes the air out of the situation. Then I can cope with it.”

Sweitzer laid on the six strings of his acoustic guitar like a therapist’s couch following his girlfriend having an abortion. Foregoing expensive psychiatry bills, the experience led to the seventh track (“Gypsy Switch”) on his 2006 album, Stove and Taker.

The song begins, “Don’t think I can stand to talk to your mama / Just tell her I’m sorry I knocked up your daughter / See, we’re young and we’re scared but it’s not like we hate ‘em / I just think that humans are abusive in nature.”

Sweitzer’s tone says the experience still weighs on his thoughts.

“That was really hard for me to deal with,” he explains. “At the time I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. When it hit home and I realized what it all meant, I wanted to be able to sing that and present how I felt in a way that was honest and not preachy or anything like that.”

Sweitzer’s music is not always as cumbersome as the topics he addresses might suggest. In fact, the music of Brad Sweitzer & The Young Sophisticates is what is inviting and allows him to bring his songs of the “uncelebrated” to the stage.

“I think I present very adult themes, but there is a childishness to it, something familiar,” Sweitzer explained.

Since teaming with the Young Sophisticates in December, Sweitzer has shed the comforts of the coffeehouse for the stink of bar rot and late-night crowds.

“Nowadays, man, it’s high energy. It’s funny. It’s tragic. It’s exciting. It’s a lot of fun,” he thought aloud. “We are ourselves. What you see is what you get. We’re having a lot of fun and the audience has fun. I’d forgotten how much fun it was to kick some ass with some friends.”

Sweitzer’s songwriting is still the driving force behind the band’s “ass-kicking” shows. Sweitzer’s lyrics are used to reflect on the world around him rather than try to change it. They are a statement of his view of how the world is, rather than a sermon on how it should be.

“I do not want to change the world,” he insisted. “If I’m feeling a particular way about a particular subject, I might write something about it; but even if it’s something that is socially relevant, I try to be unbiased and not be too preachy.”

Sweitzer doesn’t consider his songs to be “socially conscious.”

“I don’t even know how CONSCIOUS they are,” he joked.

Sweitzer does, however, consider his music to be anthems of the uncelebrated.

“No one writes songs about bowls of cereal. That’s uncelebrated, dammit,” he proclaimed. “I think it’s an important part of the human experience, so why should it be so overlooked?”

“On this new record I got coming out in the summer, I wrote a song, now this may sound weird, about menstruating,” Sweitzer continued. “It’s a pretty song. It’s about something very common, that everybody is affected by, but they’re uncomfortable with. I am uncomfortable with it. So I wrote about it and tried to present it in a way that showed the beauty of it, and I’m comfortable with it now.”

Staying true to the Brad Sweitzer tradition of celebrating the uncelebrated, he divulged his favorite cereal. “I love the Apple Jacks.”

Cap ‘n Crunch is a close second.
~ Jason Andreasen - Tiger Weekly, Baton Rouge, LA


February 6 will bring with it a new album by the witty and wonderful Brad Sweitzer, a singer-songwriter who burst on the scene in ‘05 with, “Breaking the Awkward Silence.” When I read some of the song titles, like “Pussy Hair” and “Your Sister,” I thought this would be a novelty act, but it’s not. The songs are funny, but they’re far from jokes. The music has elements of rock and folk, kind of like early Bob Dylan, and the words have enough depth to make you think as well as laugh. Like “Canada,” a protest song masquerading as an ode. I’ve listened to the album straight through twice already. You can stream or buy his first album at CD Baby, so I imagine that on 2/6 you’ll be able to find the new one at well. Make a note. It’s gonna be worth tracking down. - Berkeley Place music blog


33. Brad Sweitzer-Stove and Taker. Wit from up North–Canada’s answer to Jonathan Coulton.

(*Correction - Brad is not from Canada) - Berkeley Place music blog


Discography

Stove and Taker (2007)
Dead Beat Dull Drums (2008)

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Bio

The only son of a postman and a teacher, Brad Sweitzer's often surreal perspective is saturated with unique reactions to over 20 years of life in monotonous, middle class America. Though inspired by such musical anomalies as They Might Be Giants and Frank Zappa, Sweitzer shares little more than their ability to dogleg the mainstream and illuminate the mystical in the mundane. His are anthems for the un-celebrated. Abandoning the traditional, love ballads become odes to pubic hairs; empty beer bottle breadcrumb pathways home. While potent enough to twist the microscope on capitalism's consumption of small towns, Sweitzer's voice maintains the tenderness to coax compelling narrative from a curious house cat. His recordings capture only a suggestion of each song. When performed live, the songs almost re-write themselves, bowing to the atmosphere for interpretation. Playing live since the age of 14, Sweitzer's onstage persona has varied from raucous spectacle to subdued storyteller while always allowing the music to be the hook and line; his body the reel.