Brando – Dbl. EP

Dbl. EP

Derek Richey is a busy, busy man. When he’s not writing new songs for his full-time project, Brando, he’s working with other musicians, joining in or producing. He also helps run Smokeylung Recordings out of Bloomington, Indiana. With Brando, the post-psychedelic pop group, Richey has released a hefty handful of albums and now adds this double EP that features both new and old material.
The first half, entitled Instantly Spaceships, features material from the sessions for the last two Brando albums and is thus heavily orchestrated, more psychedelic tinged pop. Feeling much more like a grand affair, these songs are lush and textured, yet it’s easy to see why some were not included, even on Brando’s lengthy releases. They don’t quite match the work from those albums, perhaps being a bit too quiet, too restrained. Still, a few songs stand out, like the laid-back “Designs for Repair,” the dreamy and dainty “Dainty,” and the slightly eerie “The Beaming” sounds rather imposing.
The second half of the EP, titled Every 16 Yr. Old Girl’s Guide to Brando, is older material from 1995-97, and this shows where Brando came from. Much less orchestrated, this is more indie-rock material, and some of it is quite good. “You Should Know Better” is a mid-tempo, bare-bones, lo-fi indie rock track with some strong songwriting, but the more relaxed and dreamy “Montaux Bay” is better, bringing in keyboards and allowing Richey’s voice to stay in check. “Stalin’s Gulag Party Anthem” is a good example of old Brando, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, simple yet effective guitars, and a nice sense of melody. There are a few miscues, however. “Once Seized Jerusalem” is just too slow and plodding, and the poor quality of the recording on “Veronica’s Honesty” makes a pretty decent and intense song a little hard to take.
Anyone who discovered Brando’s recent works, falling into the deep and rich Headless Horseman is a Preacher or Single Crown Postcard, should go back to the band’s older work (some of which we’ve also reviewed). Richey promises that new Brando will be more akin to old Brando, going back to more playful guitars, quirky lyrics, and a stripped-down, lo-fi sound. I’ll believe that when I hear it, but I think a combination of the two styles can clearly go far.