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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

 

ModMusic: Jay Brannan

Although it seems like we've been hearing (and I've been praising) Jay Brannan for many, many years, it's only now that the gorgeous queer troubador is releasing his full-length CD, Goddamned, on an actual label. True, Brannan already had two buzz-building homemade efforts last year, and since his film debut in 2006's Shortbus, he's become an internet sensation both on iTunes and YouTube, where his acoustic (and shirtless) strumming routinely draws hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Take a listen to those You Tube tracks, though, and you'll see what Brannan is up against in the music industry. He's openly (even unabashedly) gay...and a little bit foulmouthed. His lyrics experiment with gender roles and, on occasion, savagely critique the American Dream. This is all done in a high, plaintive tenor reminiscent of a choirboy with a dark side, sung over a gentle guitar and the occasional string section. If you can imagine anything more diametrically opposite to The Pussycat Dolls, Linkin Park or Three 6 Mafia, I'd like to know what it is.

The strength of Brannan's music, though -- and the reason he has managed, in a relatively short time, to build an international grassroots following -- is that his eerie combination of savage and sweet revererates loudly in these morally troubling times. Whether jealously excoriating heterosexual domesticity in "Housewife," assaulting the Israeli-Palestinian divide in the title track "Goddamned," or suffering the pains of spurned love in "String-A-Long Song," Brannan combines the pessimistic romanticism of Morrissey with the emotive charm of Joni Mitchell. It's a seductive mix of spiritual predecessors...one that gets him off the hook for his occasionally overwrought lyrics or easy conclusions.

If nothing on Goddamned rivals the catchy hook of his breakthrough hit "Soda Shop" -- or his humor in live concert settings, where a cover of "Straight Outta Compton" can bring an audience to laughter and tears -- the new disc nevertheless sets a solid foundation for a long career. Whether mainstream success is possible (or even desired) for Jay Brannan remains to be seen. But if you're cool enough to read this blog, then you're cool enough to know this is a must-have record. The revolution against the music industry's malaise begins with artists like him.

Watch The Trailers:
"Housewife," Jay Brannan
"Goddamned," Jay Brannan
Visit: Official Site, MySpace, Elbo.ws, Wikipedia, iTunes, BrannanBlog
Then Buy: Jay Brannan, Goddamned

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3 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Bloody hell i have been very lapse in commenting lately - but i'm so happy you are still blogging as and when. I like young Mr Brannan - need to check out more of his music. It helps that he is very RAR as well :P

6/24/08, 6:03 AM  
Blogger Ready2Die said...

Why do you lump Linkin Park and Three 6 Mafia with the Pussycat Dolls? You really think they are all on the same level it terms of overproduction and blandness?

I mean I fully support independent artists, but Jay Brannan is only getting noticed because he's cute. If you want good acoustic songs with intelligent lyrics try Jason Mraz or Aimee Mann.

6/24/08, 9:12 AM  
Blogger ModFab said...

I mentioned Linkin, Mafia and Pussycat because they were three successful artists of the last few years. No secret agenda there.

And I think you're guilty of dismissing Brannan's musicality and lyrical wit; it's facile to say that he's only succeeding because he's cute. It's an easy criticism to make, and one that doesn't take into account his actual work.

Plus, your comparisons seem odd. I love Aimee Mann, but she's hardly an acoustic artist. And Jason Mraz? Well, he's just...terrible.

6/24/08, 3:39 PM  

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