A few years ago the Glam world lost one of its most resilient and enduring bands when The Trash Brats finally called it quits. Years of hard living had finally caught up with them. For a bit they tried to soldier on without founding member Toni Romeo, but the love between each member was too strong to continue on without him, so the end came, and Thee Brats packed it in.
Now we find ourselves a few years on, and the Brats have splintered and had looked to be missing in action. Ricky Rat re-emerged as guitarist with his buddy Kevin K., and just a week after catching up with Ricky at a Kevin show, I had the pleasant surprise of being passed along the new release from Brian O'Blivion, vocalist extraordinaire!
Being well familiar with The Brats, and with Brian's solo output, I thought I knew what to expect, and that was to not know what I was going to get. The Brats played a Glam/Punk style in the Hanoi Rocks/NY Dolls/Rolling Stones mode, with some extra Punk thrown in at times.
But Brian's solo had a bunch of country flavor at times, along with some cabaret feelings. He would tear it up at times, but was always in an experimental frame of mind. His lyrics have also always been just as interesting, and this goes for his work with The Brats. They are always more than just words, as he seems to always write for a purpose. Even the fun and silly songs have a deeper meaning, or might not be what you think. Check The Brats tune "A Little Me In You" and tell me what exactly he is meaning, as there could easily be two meanings to that one.
But then we come to the new CD. I put it on expecting the acoustic style that he seemed to favor when solo. Right away I was to realize that this was not going to be your standard solo effort. This time out Brian was going to prove to us that he was indeed a truly original voice with the ability to survive on his own.
"Roy And Billie" starts out with a great guitar riff that leads to Brian's voice coming in strong and powerful, and reminding us quickly what it is that some of us loved so much about his voice. It was always so much stronger than what you think at first listen, but as you listen close you hear how much he is capable of. The song has hooks a-plenty, both guitar wise and vocally, and it rocks pretty hard.
Song two is another full on Rock tune called "One On The Gas, One In The Grave". This one though would actually fit nicely placed in the middle of a Trash Brats set, so if you are looking for something of The Brats fell, this one actually has it pretty good, though it might be a bit harder edged.
Track 3, "Balloon Animals" is one of the coolest songs I have heard in a long, long, long time. Its verse will work itself so deep into your head that it will show up again in your sleep. Then it takes a turn for its pre-chorus/chorus/after chorus that you won't expect, owing a slight nod to Lindsey Buckingham and "Holiday Road" maybe. But the song keeps growing and wandering and building. It's just a great song in every way, and a prime example of Brian and his lyric ability.
At first I wasn't crazy about the song "Chantelle!", but Brian's voice won me over on it and now it has become a favorite. This is one of those songs where you get an idea of what a great voice he has.
At times things are more Rock than you would expect, such as "Freeway Valentine" and "Suicide Saloon", and are actually harder edged than he has ever stepped in the past. Both of those songs, by the way, carry a very strong Southern Rock element to them, adding just one more dimension to Brian and his influences.
It also should be noted that Brian does most of the guitar on this CD, and he is actually a pretty damn good guitarist.
On his first release Brian sounded like a guy who really wanted to step into the Country style he had always loved. On the second he mixed it up. This time out, he sounds like a guy who has found his way back home. Though some songs are stronger than others, there is not a single track on here that is a throw-away. He dips into a bit of the Country feel (the cover of the Merle Haggard "Silver Wings"), and even goes full on Country ("Bar Room Angel) but it never wanders off the track that the album is laying out.
I can tell you this, if Brian can continue on this path, and the others members go off to release material this string, it will make the demise of Thee Brats all that much easier to swallow.
To order the CD head on over to: cdbaby.com. There is a typo on the CD cover, and Brian's name is Brian O'Blivion and NOT O'Blivian as the cover says. So spell it correct at CD Baby. As of this typing though, it is not available yet. Brian says it will be available in a week (the week of May 15th).
Brian has also informed
me of this info for the CD release show:
June 24th, 2006 at Smalls - Hamtramck, Michigan
Opening acts are Car City Call Girls (Ricky Rat on guitar) and The Salt Miners (Brian O'Blivion on guitar)
by Carl Isonhart
Visit the Brian O'Blivion Website