Music seen at Empire Dine and Dance, July 5, 2008
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 9, 2008

In indie-rock, familiarity usually breeds contempt. It’s a silly irony — the “genre” is essentially becoming a radio-friendly updating of any semi-neglected music scene of the past 20 years — but it makes sense: if a songwriter, structurally or lyrically, doesn’t have anything new to say, why bother with them?

Brenda poke a lot of holes in this reliable theory. Their debt to the more halcyon moments of ’90s heavies like Sunny Day Real Estate and Pavement is suffused with a fuzzy, earnest nostalgia. Along with Phantom Buffalo, they’re one of the only indie acts in Portland with genuine crossover appeal, “good times" music in the non-pejorative sense.

The group is fronted by Cult Maze’s Joshua Loring, with sideman Peet Chamberlain (Cult Maze, An Evening With) and a dreadlocked fellow named DJ on drums. Loring and Chamberlain continue to have impeccable chemistry; Brenda’s rhythms aren’t as jagged as Cult Maze’s, but their chord changes still turn on a dime, which keep the songs bouncy and involving, even before you consider DJ’s nasty kick in back.

Loring’s quickly developing a knack for writing a good pop song too. Brenda’s subject matter — summer nostalgia, overcoming adversity, girls — is hardly groundbreaking, but Loring’s lyrics are focused and punchy, more so with each new song, and his delivery is warm and charismatic. Brenda are a pretty ideal no-frills, no-pretension band to have around this summer.

Brenda play at Slainte on July 10 with Moneycastasia

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