Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Music Review: “13 Satellites” by Brandon Schott


“The sound of the late Beatles is apparent throughout the record vocally and tonally, not to mention it's whimsical enigmatic feel. This is the first of Brandon's records to be

purely recorded and self-produced at his home studio in Glendale.”

Brandon Schott’s 13 Satellites isn’t only filled with Beatles influenced song writing and musical composition. The late Monkees when the boys were allowed to write, perform and present their own tunes (think Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. era) , and even The Lovin' Spoonful are felt in the album. BSCHOTT_PromoSleeve_BACKSchott’s vocal delivery is clearly John Lennon-like throughout, while the music itself alternates between that Skiffle band and easy psychedelic production.

But don’t think this is just a Beatles/Late ‘60s take off. It is a bit more than that and a very enjoyable listen, especially for those into contemporary psychedelica.


The arrangements have a carnival-like feel feeling both in instruments and rhythm.

“Satellite” Brandon Schott’s First Single from The Album 13 Satellites

I’m not sure where he was going with the opening piece, “Annie”, a dreamy short little piece with choir like chant/hum and no lyric but at 1:36 perhaps it sets the mood for the rest of the record. Track two, “Early Morning Night” had that Monkees flavor to it, and of course The Monkees were becoming more Sgt. Peppers Beatle-like then. It’s an enjoyable tune. next up is “Full Circle Round” continuing that enigmatic titling of the songs. A simple drum line that if it aims for Ringo doesn’t quite make it, but the tune is beautifully arranged and the lyric is about changing seasons as a metaphor for the changing moods of life and relationships. Nicely done and it continues that psych/pop atmosphere.

“This Is Home” brings out that John Sebastian/Lovin’ Spoonful flavor. Simple acoustic guitar perhaps meant to mimic Sebastian’s auto harp, and a shuffling drum rhythm with some piano thrown in on the bridge and other electronic keys for atmosphere.

One Sheets-1

“Flowers Fading” is the biggest nod to John Lennon with it’s eastern spirituality themed feel and lyric. “A Daydream )…or a 2am serenade)” is another slow and beautiful lyric where again, I thought the drum didn’t quite get there but once you get past that (and start to realize that Ringo WAS that good in this kind of setting – Okay, that’s the last time you’ll hear a bass player praise a drummer on these pages) the strong is dreamy-whimsical and Schott plays to his strengths as a singer and lyricist.

The title tune, “Satellite” continues in that vein and is included above as the first single. It’s whimsical and fun before again going into Lennon mood à la Sgt. Pepper era Beatles. “Exploding Angel” is a piano romp that brings to mind those late Beatles tunes where Paul would play those great and simple piano pieces. I’ve known a few exploding angels in my time….even married a couple. “Louise Street” opens with a nod to “my fingers are bleeding” à la The Beatles “Helter Skelter” but this song isn’t that. It is a slow choir/hum instrumental that advances the theme of the album before moving onto maybe the best song lyrically on the project. “All The Way Down” Just give it a listen,

There are two more tracks to finish off the 13 Satellites promised in the title. And that promise doesn’t just come from the track count. The album was born as a cross-continental collaboration with drummer Billy Hawn (sorry for the criticism Billy) during the spring of 2010 - and also features tracks flown in from Portland, OR, Manchester, NH, and the not-quite-as-far-away Burbank, CA where Schott's longtime collaborator
Jason Wormer (Steve Earle, Elton John & Leon Russell, Elvis Costello & T-Bone Burnett) mixed and mastered the record into a warm, deep groove. but don’t think the various people involved in the project just called it in, this is a very nice piece of work and an enjoyable theme album. Brandon Schott has this to say, “The songs on "13 Satellites" reflect a new beginning, both in life and in art. The record is "a celebration of all we had gone through as a family, and a childlike wonder at all that was to come."

If you can go into this album, as I did, and accept that stylistically it is a nod to the late ‘60s Beatles (and those other groups) and not an attempt to be the Beatles, then you will enjoy the album immensely. it is a very nice break from the racket that a lot of  indie bands bring today, no matter how enjoyable that racket can be.


Brandon Schott Piano

The Dirty Lowdown

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