Brad, the Seattle rock band whose core members are Shawn Smith, Stone Gossard, Regan Hagar and Mike Berg, return to action with their third album, 'Welcome to Discovery Park', a career-defining artistic triumph, released on Wagram Music / Redline Entertainment, through Vital, on June 2nd.
'Welcome to Discovery Park' finds one of music's most soulful and musically elegant bands kicking up a storm of funky, garage rock grooves one minute and glorious, irresistibly catchy pop melodies the next. The album bursts to life with the soul-searching, slow-burning "Brothers and sisters" and "Shinin'," and changes speed with two classic riff rockers: "Revolution," with its authoritative lyrics ("tell me something that I want to hear!") and the rip-roaring "La, la, la," which conjures a utopia free of "prison, hate, hunger, or greed."
Multi-instrumentalist Thaddeus Turner and percussionist Elizabeth Pupo-Walker's contributions add mesmerizing magic and energy to the mix, from the sizzling guitar solo in "Yes, you are" to the reassuring acoustic hooks in the chorus of "Shinin'" and crafty congo beats throughout the record.
Band members also reached out to Jeremy Toback, who performed on Brad's first two albums but had not collaborated with the group in several years. Toback supplied bass lines on several tracks. The album was produced by Brad, with additional production and mixing by Phil Nicolo of the Butcher Brothers production team (Urge Overkill, Billy Joel), and Skip Drinkwater (Taj Mahal, Norman Connors). Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam, Isis, Murder City Devils) also provided additional mixing.
Throughout the new album, Smith's heartbreakingly soulful vocals demonstrate why he's been hailed as one of the most talented singers in recent rock history. He breathes vulnerability and genuine emotion into the stunning "Never let each other down" and "Yes, you are," which revel in a rare yet sombre beauty.
Elsewhere, Brad stamps its funky, cult-loved signature on classic rock'n'roll ("Couch T-bone") and pits electric guitar squalls against sturdy bass licks ("Drop it down"). The pleasure is further prolonged on such slow-burning standouts as "If you could make it good," the moving ballad "Sheepish," and the psychedelic, reverb-laden "All is one."
Pearl Jam guitarist
Stone Gossard and Satchel / Pigeonhed vocalist / pianist / guitarist
Shawn Smith were two old friends who took time out from their respective
bands to collaborate for the first time in 1993, when they recruited
Satchel drummer Regan Hagar and bassist Jeremy Toback.
They were originally called Shame, but Los Angeles musician Brad Wilson held a copyright on the name and was not prepared to give it up, so they called themselves Brad in tongue in cheek retaliation and their debut album 'Shame'.
'Shame', an enthralling and atmospheric work blending funk, rock, jazz and soul with Shawn Smith's smoky, soulful melancholic vocals, won a heap of deserved critical praise and spawned the hit singles '20th Century' and 'Buttercup'. "Brad's streamlined grooves and emotive melody lines are shamelessly soulful and as hummable as hell," said Q, and 'Shame' was even recently listed in The MOJO Collection: The Greatest Albums of All Time.
The band followed it up with "Interiors" (Epic, 1997), highlighted by such tracks as "The Day Brings," "Secret Girl," and "Upon My Shoulders." The melancholy pop hit "The Day Brings" received widespread airplay and offered ample evidence of Smith's expressive vocal power, capable of soothing ears and stopping hearts all at once. The first-ever Brad tours followed the release of "Interiors" and encompassed two North American treks and a stint in Australia opening for Ben Harper.
'Welcome to Discovery Park' was recorded in Seattle over several sessions, first in May 2001 and then in March 2002. Satchel bassist / keyboard player Mike Berg, a long time friend, was drafted in to replace Jeremy Toback.
Brad's long-standing and deep friendship is most evident in their latest work, equally showcasing the band's expressive collaborations and its members' distinct individual personalities. "We have always come back to it but we had to let it refine and redefine itself," Gossard professes. "That has been an interesting process and one that I'm eager to share once again."
"Making music with this band has always felt so natural," says Hagar. "Everyone comes in with their own ideas and I think our confidence in each other allows us to combine those elements really easily."
Smith, whose (Pigeonhed) song "Battle Flag" was recently featured in The Sopranos, comments that "I really trust the band's musical opinions and when we get together, it just works, immediately."
Their life-long link and their distinctively characteristic sound sets Brad apart from the pack, and "Welcome to Discovery Park," an incredible celebration of great music and friendship, is set to distance them even further from the mass of mediocre pop shite that is currently clogging up the charts.