Brandon Schott: Release

Gary Glauber

Singer/songwriter Schott's debut album shows great promise with a number of mellow soft-rock gems.

Brandon Schott


Label: Fluffy Pillow Music
US Release Date: 1969-12-31
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate

It's not easy to get attention in a world crowded with talented musicians. While some like Devendra Banhart and Sufjan Stevens combine talent with luck and manage to accrue column upon column of media coverage, others like Brandon Schott go relatively unnoticed.

After graduating Berklee College of Music in 1999 with a degree in songwriting, Brandon Schott headed out to Los Angeles to continue a lifelong obsession with music. He started playing local coffeehouses, assembling a trio with Greg Jamrok on guitar and Dave Stalker on drums. Soon enough, they were fleshing out arrangements for what would become his first album, Release.

While this album debuted in November of 2003, it was more recently picked up for wider distribution in the summer of 2005 (and deservedly so). The multi-talented Schott (he is credited with some 20 different instruments on the CD) covers a wide realm of pleasant soft-rock territory (with some folk, some funk and a few other things thrown in for good measure).

He's got a strong emotive voice that can sound like any number of people (a short list might include Owsley, Ben Folds, Michael Penn, Joe Pernice and Matthew Sweet), depending on the particular song. It's full of a warmth and familiarity that adds to these original songs.

"Sunday A.M." opens the CD, a soft acoustic number that reflects the lyrical wishes for a world where every day retains the gentle peace of Sunday morning. Schott's dulcet voice carries the track, which features some virtuoso dobro work from David Kalish.

A slightly more upbeat ballad, "Afterglow" is an infectious musical testament to the reaches of feminine power, extending so far as to let the playboy know "it's far too late for an easy escape". In the end, the results are always the same: "no matter where you are, / She holds all the cards".

Schott gets the funk out in "Little Juliet", using a Moog, bass and clavinet to underscore the full-fledged strings, wah-wah guitar and background singers. It's a tight little number that shows Schott's versatility through the act of giving advice to that poor girl who has lost her Romeo:

"Little Juliet, /
Look how much you've lost, /
Since your stars got crossed, /
You are putting out, /
What you never put in, /
The poison crawls under your skin."

"One Man's Poison" points out that we often follow the wrong advice by falling in line or admiring the actions of the wrong friends. Banjo and mandolin are some of the unusual accents that dress up "May", a mood piece and love ballad that unfurls at a slow pace (and lasts just under six minutes).

Schott goes a little jazzier with "Paper Wings", employing a nice background chorus of singers and the occasional slide whistle to get across this delicate tale of a woman remembered through her origami letter:

"Her memory is folded, /
Her edges are soft, /
And when she finds you, /
You're an astronaut, /
Every night you're really taking flight."

"Burning The Days" is Schott at his most rocking. The song builds to the point where Schott screams out his love and devotion ("I will burn for you as the night goes down") in sometimes poetic ways ("I live inside your secret kiss, / Here in this power time does not exist").

Lovely strings add poignancy to the "man left in ruins" aspect of "Let Me Sleep". He's awake and thinking back on "the silence she left behind". Schott's plaintive voice cries out with emotion, but the real heroes here are Stephen Erdody on cello, Endre Granat and Christine Frank on violin, and Janet Lakatos on viola.

Schott often toys with philosophic concepts. He does so in the ballad "Still Life", pondering a static, unchanging life that is passing him by. Yet it has a hopeful, optimistic end:

"I've always been afraid of changing, /
My habits move me beyond repair, /
But I hold on, /
'Cause I know that somewhere there's still . . . life."

The closer "Feels Like Home" is another mellow acoustic gem. Brooke Fox adds some winning background harmonies. Schott recounts "blessings" he should have known while pondering the absurdity of life and its nasty whispers, finding ultimate comfort in his situation:

"Standing on this endless coast, /
I raise my glass and drink a toast, /
To rolling out my lover's ghost, /
Crashing towards a future I may never know, /
But it feels like home, feels like home, /
Here beside the turning tide, /
It feels like home."

Schott's impressive debut displays much promise. His lyrics are poetic enough to stand out, and his smart attitudes and musical choices make for an always-interesting listen. While some of the ballads may go on too long, Release still has enough moments of greatness to make you eager to hear the next collection from this talented musician, one that his website claims will be out sometime later this year.






West London's WheelUP Merges Broken Beat and Hip-Hop on "Stay For Long" (premiere)

West London producer WheelUP reached across the pond to Brint Story to bring some rapid-fire American hip-hop to his broken beat revival on "Stay For Long".


PM Picks Playlist 4: Stellie, The Brooks, Maude La​tour

Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".


Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.


Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".


Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.


Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.


The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.


Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.


For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?


Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Becky Warren Shares "Good Luck" and Discusses Music and Depression

Becky Warren finds slivers of humor while addressing depression for the third time in as many solo concept albums, but now the daring artist is turning the focus on herself in a fight against a frightful foe.


Fleet Foxes Take a Trip to the 'Shore'

On Shore, Fleet Foxes consist mostly of founding member Robin Pecknold. Recording with a band in the age of COVID-19 can be difficult. It was just time to make this record this way.


'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.


Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.


3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".


'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.


Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.