Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mr. Walker?

My good friend and former student Brad Walker is a busy guy. He's a visual artist, a musician, and he works as a graphic designer for the company that designs the packaging for Snyder's of Berlin (my favorite tortilla chip maker and only a handful of miles away from Frostburg). Brad has released over a dozen albums since 2000 under various names (Glasses-Face being one of the best), and I have been one of the few recipients of all but two of the albums. They are interesting objects- aside from the design of each being nearly flawless (and fresh!), Brad's lyrics are an instructive couterpoint to an otherwise timid, and unassuming "I'm-not-really-a-hipster-that's-why-I-wear-brown-hipster". His writing (which none of the reviews I've read ever mention) is metaphorical, uncanny, and both giving and reticent enough to do what every pop song should do: make you think that the song was written with you in mind (Ms. Simon, please come accept yet another award). Brad's most recent album, Machete Wounds (recorded under the name Some Monastery) is (musically) a departure from his past albums, and is his most accessible to date. He is courting labels in hopes of getting some sort of support for what he does, and pointed me in the direction of the following (favorable?) review.

SOME MONASTERY "Machete Wounds" - SMR [Feb 2006]
Remember those early Beck recordings that were lo-fi and quirky and evenly divided between stunning creativity and unlistenable jive? Some Monastery not only remember but resurrect this time. What kind of quality control can you realistically expect from a band that has self-released 14 albums? Pardon me, 14 albums since 2000, and the band is really some wildly inventive 23 year old? Despite these warning signs, SM actually have some decent tunes. "Tens Of Thousands Of Times" sounds like a lo-fi Guided By Voices. The similarity does not end there, as Brad Walker has the same determined brainstorming/barnstorming of song ideas as Rob Pollard. This unfettered approach to songwriting gives Walker ample occasion to concoct songs that have nuggets hidden inside, sections that draw the listener in and reward with unexpected pleasures. "Exclamation Marks" is a song that proves this, as Walker's voice is triple tracked and conveys nasal hesistancy and emotional vulnerability at the same time.This album of course bears the marks of having been birthed at home, but Walker really does have a lot of good ideas, even if some of the lo-fi approaches eventually start tiring the listener out. So, how did Beck go from making "Satan Gave Me A Taco" to being an international superstar? Well, okay, even those early songs showed massive promise and innovation, but perhaps the biggest boost was a major label gave him a recording budget and a producer. Of course, no amount of budget or studio wizardry will make Jandek palatable to the masses, but it would be very interesting indeed to see what Some Monastery would come up with in those circumstances.--- 6/11 Leeds


And I just found this review:

Brad Walker is a young musician at 23 but his sound is a mature one. Experimental lo-fi is the makeup of “Machete Wounds” and Brad’s vocals are surprisingly deep and odd yet very likable with a sort of Beck-esque pitch. The instrumentation is light and certainly breathes sighs of singer/songwriter dorm or apartment recording. Not everyone will like it since it’s intentionally lo-fi and off kilter, but I enjoy things off the beaten path that make me challenge my own listening habits. Take a listen, you might just surprise yourself. The witty yet loony lyrics alone make it worthwhile.

- J-Sin from

Witty and loony!

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