The Bradipos IV
LP and Digital download from Area Pirate Records
From the first needle drop, Lost Waves goes vein deep into the rock. It’s surf music, done by guys who love rock’n'roll. The beat is steady and insistent throughout, the bass heavy on the quarter notes, and this is clearly a “live in the studio” recording. The instrument set up doesn’t waver from song to song, with guttural, deep guitars leading, while the reverb sustain drifts on and on. You can hear the air moving between the instruments as the mix is hugged in a thickness of warm compression. The Bradipos IV guys have been together so long, they have a musical telepathy; they don’t step on each other’s toes and out of that ego free relationship comes plenty of space for each guy to support their brothers, and display their own abilities.
There are three covers and nine originals. The cover songs are perfect choices, and, perhaps, create moods that the originals don’t. “Siboney" is the most familiar, and it’s easy to compare to so many other band’s versions. What makes this version exceptional is the lazy, in the pocket phrasing of the lead and the Mexi-Cali groove that brings some western heat. The obscure opener, “Ghost Hop” is kind of an instant party and sets the tone for the album. Chris Barfield’s “Heart Full of Nothing” shamelessly riffs on “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” with a little bit of Jeff Beck’s lick from the similarly titled Yardbird song.
I am greatly intrigued by the originals. The songwriting of the Bradipos IV has become so identifiable and trademark. The songs are credited to the whole band, so I don’t know who wrote what, or whether Francesco or Massimiliano is playing lead. In fact, the band members don't even take a credit for what instruments they play.
“Lost Waves” is a compelling and lyrical song, fully fleshed out with an intro and bridge, and lifting modulation. It’s motivating, but with a hint of sadness. “Night Creeper”is mis-named, it doesn’t creep and it’s not dark. It’s a classic up-tempo song descended a few generations from Podolar’s “Midnight Run," the snare and tom rolls propelling towards the finish line. “Deep Mojave” at 3:55, feels like the epic here. Opening with a fanfare and working through melodic verses and staccato turnarounds, a breakdown bridge and peaking with a guitar solo that completely cuts loose and speaks of freedom and release. “Deep Mojave” is the kind of song where I get the feeling the author is working out some personal shit, in the healthiest way. “Hangover Serenade” explores the dynamics of surf guitar, moving through open string pull-offs, arpeggios, double stops, and palm muted drip. Underneath the masterful guitar playing is a beautiful song in the Astronauts style, with a snakey melody and mood changing passages. The slowest song on the album is "The Steel Valentine", but it’s no ballad. The brush rolls on the snare hint at a spaghetti western lamento, and the dark melody set against lightly picked chords or chunky wallops recalls the Bambi Molesters.
Side two (yeah it’s LP only!) opens with "Big Sur Nightmare," another song title inspired, it seems, by the Bradipos’ 2016 California tour. Another well put together song, with a satisfying bridge. I love it when the guitars play octaves with each other for the last verse. “Tumbleweed Stomp” comes on strong, but settles into slightly lax groove, allowing the guitars to push. The upper register melody in the second verse lifts the song to a cerebral place, clearing the mind so the body can move with the beat. “PJ Run” (named for Paul Johnson?) has a familiar feel, the drums once again push in the Astronauts style, and the Fender Rhodes bell tones give the mix a quiet vibe, even though the song is really moving. Finishing the album, and our journey around California we end in the refinery city that is “El Segundo.” It’s gritty, tom heavy and dark, but a little sunlight peeks through when we get a little Chuck Berry action, and then a tumultuous coda and a long reverb and amp buzz trail.
Lost Waves is honest surf music played without pretension. The songs are original and have a style honed to individuality through the vision of four collaborators who clearly value each other’s abilities. My only real beef with the sound is that the drums are too dry for my taste, and stick out of the atmosphere created by the swirling reverbs. Great album, and highly recommended!
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