• Cherry Popper

Louisiana Quartet Resonates The Kinks, Jack White—But Won’t Be Pegged Down

written by: on June 26, 2012

Brass Bed is one of the most impressive bands playing rock music right now that you’re probably not aware of. Their highly acclaimed 2010 album, Melt White, contains songs that have intricate guitar work, beautiful melodies, and a certain kind of underlying kick-ass energy that gives off a timeless feeling. It has a blend of pop that goes above and beyond four chords and a hook and actually affects you.

If you close your eyes when listening to Brass Bed, you can’t tell if you’ve pulled out an underappreciated dusty vinyl record from your parents’ basement or if you just downloaded a new mixtape of indie rock. Melt White has moments that, as daring and dangerous a claim it is, sound like The Beatles and The Kinks.

The comparison to such iconic names in rock ‘n’ roll is one that cannot be thrown around without justification. Brass Bed’s acute attention to detail is what makes their approach to pop music so lethal. They pull off light and playful melodies that are extremely intricate and technical with childish ease that will get stuck in your head for days. Their dedication to making pop music that isn’t saturated with oversexed themes and songs that don’t mean anything to the artist is the backbone of the band that keeps them ahead of their competition.

One of the most impressive songs off of Melt White, “Bums on the Radio,” has calm, slightly spooky ballpark sounding organs that echoes of 1960s songs like “Incense and Peppermints” during the first verse. The song later explodes into a chaotic freak-out that you usually only get from jam bands. However Brass Bed has all the melodies and instrumentals of a jam band, but are able to pack it into a mind-blowing three-minute pop song every time. Each song contains a psychedelic epic battle between the guitars and keyboards with a chorus that will grow on you more and more with each listen. This mix successfully creates a kind of song you discover something new that you didn’t hear before every time. But that’s not all, the climax of “Bums on the Radio” reaches peak insanity when the distorted guitars pump the outro with a nitrous-oxide blast Jack White would approve of. There isn’t a single track on Melt White that isn’t fully crafted and explored. Not one stone is left unturned and not anything  could be added to the tracks to fill them up any more than they already are.

Brass Bed’s live show is just as convincing and action packed as their studio albums.

“We played at a bar around midnight with the doors open right after a football game in Athens, Georgia,” remembers Christiaan Mader, the band’s lead guitarist and singer. “We weren’t sure if anyone was going to be there or how they’d react. It was a mixed crowd of mostly meat-head jocks that had been drinking all day. We thought we were going to get stuff thrown at us, but decided to just play our hardest and at the end of the night they all wanted to buy our shirts and CDs.”

Hailing from a small bayou country town in Louisiana outside of New Orleans has helped shape Brass Bed’s sound, but does not peg them as a Cajun or Southern band. A certain kind of energy exists that is reminiscent of bands from the area, like Givers, during Brass Bed’s live show. As frontman Christiaan Mader said, “When we play live, we like to give it our all; it’s less about practice and getting everything right as much as it’s about getting up there and more or less exploding on stage.”

Brass Bed has been hustling shows before their next release. They made their way to SXSW this year and played their hearts out and then made their way to the Jazz fest in their home of New Orleans. Brass Bed is a band that you want to see in a small club while you still have the chance. Every show is an adventure and you never know what you’re going to get because the band is so open and willing to push every opportunity to play what they can to the fullest. “We played with Issac Brock [of Modest Mouse] once,” Mader said.  “He stayed after a show and this guy told us to unpack all of our equipment. Issac got on stage and we sort of just ad libbed as he played one chord and screamed into it over and over. Finally after a while our keyboardist asked him if he could play more than one chord and Brock said, ‘why don’t you go back to art-school and then you can do your more than one chord shit’ and kept going. Not really sure what he meant by it, but he invited us backstage at his show the next day and we had a great time.”

It’s hard to be a rock band these days, but that doesn’t stop Brass Bed. Their live show is an ever-changing explosion and their recorded material has the chops and packs the punches that make other bands pale in comparison. As Mader said, “you can sit in a room with your friends and play as much as you want and that’ll tighten things up, but everything goes wrong when you start playing live and you have to learn to deal with it and turn that into a show. That’s the most important thing. Practice as much as you can, but play more.” The ethos that keeps Brass Bed a toned beast that wears many masks, a chameleon that keeps changing colors and never fails to surprise you each time live or in your headphones.