red lights


Stories with guitars: Part II


Braam - Madelaine
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 4, 2005

Review by Tony Bonyata

On the second full-length effort, from a planned trilogy of recordings, the Chicago-based quintet (by way of Lake Geneva, WI) Braam have created a strong follow-up to their Gravity and the right to fly debut. The latest installment, entitled Madelaine, is steeped with shimmering guitars, rough-hewn rock vocals, though-provoking lyrics and well-crafted compositions.
The band is led by the three Braam brothers (vocalist Tom, bassist Mike and lead guitarist Scott) and filled out with drummer Peter Drefs and rhythm guitarist David Ashdown. Self-produced and recorded in the band's own studio in Oak Park, IL, the music that unfolds from this second chapter in their self-proclaimed "stories with guitars" is uplifting and optimistic - carefully balancing punchy rockers ("God Told Me It Was Gonna Be A Good Year" and "Ain't No Love In Your Rock & Roll") with unadulterated power-pop ("Sugar High Blues" and "Evangelical Scene") and rootsier-flavored Americana music ("Trying To Apologize").
The influences abound throughout this ten-song collection. On the introspective alt-country number "Wheaton College" the vocals of REM's Michael Stipe lightly dance over an Exile 0n Main Street-era Stones arrangement, while the dirty guitars of Neil Young's Crazy Horse snarl and spit through the stomping rocker "My Queen." And on the number "Comedy" the sun-kissed folk-rock eventually gives way to irresistible pop rock, where they even go so far as to tip their hat to the candy-coated popsters The La's, with their refrain of "there she goes" as the song fades to black.
Just as a great author hooks his readers into a continuing storyline stretched over a series of novels, Braam holds our interest high for not only their latest musical installment but for the ensuing finale to this, thus far, entertaining trilogy.

Braam's Madelaine (and their first album Gravity and the right to fly) can be purchased online at CDBaby

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