Beat2_DarienBrahmsCD_main
Why does a person spend 20 years in Portland making music, releasing records, and playing shows? Ask Darien Brahms. Her fifth album, Dogwood, celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hello, Hello to the People, a disc (available on iTunes, by the way) that doesn't sound altogether different from what we're hearing today: brassy vocals that can punch you in the gut, vampy strut, a little bit of twang and blues amid the rock, and maybe a ballad to make things girly every once in a while.

Ultimately, most artists keep on keeping on because they don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. They need that combination of release and response that making music for other people creates, that feedback cycle that can ultimately be both euphoric and heartbreaking. A lot like love.

So it's no surprise that Brahms, here on Dogwood, is like a fickle lover, toying with her audience. Out of the gate, she's "Queen of Porn," aggressive over driving horns (Brian Graham, Lucas Desmond, Dave Noyes), a persistent wood block, and a rocking strut: "Sooner or later, we all fall like Rome." But by the following "Big Red Flag" she's got a bluesy come-on that's hard not to get on board with: "Oh, take me please, and don't send me back again."

It's that push and pull, that "Jekyll and Hyde" experience of sunshiney guitar in the open, but diving toward melancholy in a hurry. Of a bullfighter prepping for a bout in the ring, but having second thoughts: "you taste like a flower/You smell like a chocolate."

There's a little of that cow-punk some people know Brahms for, and she's brought along Cartwright Thompson for some pedal steel. There's a throwback reggae-flavored track in "Veni Vidi Vici" that's like a modern-day turning of "Sandy" from the Grease soundtrack on its head. "If I neglected to mention," Brahms croons, "I'm the empress of all."

Without doubt. There are any number of us who'd hand her the keys to the city, elect her mayor, and get out of the way. Which makes the whispered, repeating "I fucking love you" in the middle of the just-plain-filthy "Black Eye" so utterly delicious. We fucking love you right back, Darien. Please keep putting an album out every five years so we remember just how much.

Dogwood | Released by Darien Brahms | on Cornmeal Records | at the Big Easy, in Portland | June 22 |  darienbrahms.com

  Topics: CD Reviews , grease, Darien Brahms, Darien Brahms,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ME AND MY GRANDMA  |  April 17, 2014
    There’s no question that Rob Schreiber’s Standard Issue play the hits.
  •   SO LONG, SLAINTE  |  April 16, 2014
    Why would so many lament a little venue with sightlines that make Fenway Park look wide open?
  •   THE INVINCIBLE OLAS  |  April 09, 2014
    The band have newly created Cada Nueva Ola , as rollicking as any family dinner table.
  •   DIGGING UP THE PAST  |  April 04, 2014
    Now Tumbling Bones have followed Ghost’s release earlier this year with a full-length debut of their own, equally impressive in its construction and execution.
  •   WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD  |  March 28, 2014
    The various instruments employed (mostly acoustic, in flavors of folk, gospel, and early blues) serve their purpose well: as a platform for Barrett to showcase her considerable vocal talents.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE