Welcome to the meandering musical insights of Aaron Joy (me!), formerly known as the Roman Midnight Music Blog. Here you'll find nearly 750 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie, good & bad, U.S. & foreign. A new review every Monday.

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December 27, 2021

Brad Kleiman ~ E.P. (EP) (album review) ... Quirky Jersey lyrics that recall Lou Reed!

Style: rock
Label: self-released
Year: 2018
Home: New Jersey

Members: Brad Kleiman ~ vocals/guitar/bass
"Saxy" Joe Braverman ~ sax
Dennis Young ~ percussion
Ray Bally, Jill Cagney ~ b. vocals
CJ Scioscia ~ drum programming

I've only heard Brad Kleiman with his group Jackie Puppet, which is a cornucopia of acoustic & electric guitars, sax, folk & rock. Thus, I had no clue what to expect when tuning in to Brad's 3 song solo album E.P.. Here he is joined by his sax playing Jackie Puppet bandmate "Saxy" Joe Braverman, & Dennis Young of Liquid, Liquid & Raymond Bally, both whom he has played with extensively in various outings for nearly a decade including as the lead guitarist of the Ray Bally Band. CJ Scioscia who did the programmed drums, a change from Jackie Puppet, also produced, engineered, mastered & mixed the album. Its a real family affair. Then there's the girl on the cover. Don't know who she is, but Brad does all his own covers & for a cartoon she's kinda cute ... & I'm not usually into blondes. I think its the headband. Its the little details, you know. Speaking of little details, this little album is full of little things that make it worth hearing. E.P. opens with the strummed acoustic guitar of "Modern-Day Classic", to be joined by vocals & some light percussion. Eventually there is a sax solo, & its a welcome change over the always-expected obligatory guitar solo. Music needs more sax. Bruce Springsteen has proved that. Not enough people are listening. I also confess to buying a sax just before covid hit, but its now sitting in storage. At first "Modern-Day Classic" comes off as your typical coffee house singer/songwriter ditty, but the magic is in Brad's witty lyrics that makes this unique. The song opens with nothing too out of the ordinary. "Drape yourself across him / You're a modern-day classic / Choose your words with caution / Don't do anything drastic." Then the chorus slyly hints that somethings might be good or bad as the evening progresses. "Don't get too comfortable / Don't get too content / Anything is possible / Can't rule out any event." I love the ambiguity. I really like lyrics like this, as they open themselves up to interpretation & mystique. The last line of the song I also particularly love for its reinterpretation of an old idea: "The sun is always local / no matter where you're from." "Hostage" switches things up by going electric. It has that New Jersey/New York raw rock sound that you know when you hear it, but can't describe when asked to. Its just got a feeling. This is singer/songwriter garage pop rock with grit. Maybe comparable to a lighter Smithereens or Lou Reed, that's a little edgy versus sweet San Francisco songwriters like Joni Mitchell & the Byrds. The sax solo is particularly free spirited & makes this feel a bit like 70's Lou, as some electric guitar lines weave in the background. I'm a huge Lou fan, so that's one of the biggest compliments I can give. There's a slight droning yet restless feeling that eventually wakes the listener up to the fact this isn't a sweet love song. Don't let Brad's lyrics fade into the background! His lyrics are romantic, but quirky with their use of torture as a thematic background. "I confess my crazy crimes to her / She knows how to switch me off / Her stun-gun stare's got a silencer ... Happy to be her hostage / Smiled when I was accosted by her." Its simple, but I always wanted to write witty lyrics like this. Failing to do that, I gave up on both writing lyrics & poetry. My only complaint is its too short. I would love to hear more verses. Just go for, Brad, let your mind wander! Tell me more bout what is happening! Get more gritty! Closer "Litter" opens with a lazy sax solo gliding over acoustic guitars. With the chorus vocals it has a very early George Harrison feel, another compliment referencing someone I like. Fun lyrics dominate its chorus: "Took to writing letters / You, know, the litter on your floor / Didn't feel much better / so I wrote some more." I can picture that! On the other hand, I was one of those folks that said a true poet wrote on napkins! Again, though, I wish the song was longer. Yet, honestly, complaining about length is a minor complaint, given other things I've written in this blog about other albums. This might only be 3 songs, but its well worth a listen. A minor side note of some irony. I realized while researching Brad's music to write this review that I'd seen him perform in 2013 with the Ray Bally Band at the Cake Shop in Manhattan. It was my final concert before moving away from NYC after 6 years to return to my birth home of Maine. Ray was the first person ever to submit something to this blog, but I hadn't seen him in concert, so was pleased to see him once & make that my exit show. Seeing shows was a highlight of my life, or struggle, in NYC. Looking at Brad's website & seeing photos of the gig I was surprised to see something I remember. I may have even been introduced to him by Ray. I know I shook hands with Dennis Young, playing marimbas that night. I have reviewed bands & then deliberately seen then. I've seen bands & then decided to review them. But, its a first to review someone who I've seen & didn't realize it! Also in the band that night was bassist Steve Demercado, drummer Andrew Platt & Dennis' Liquid Liquid bandmate percussionist Sal P.

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