News & Updates
ON BOB WOODRUFF
TWANGVILLE | MAYER DANZIG February 24, 2016
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bob Woodruff counts the late Doc Pomus, he of 1960’s Brill Building fame, as a mentor. Like Pomus, Woodruff deftly portrays human emotion with simple language and melodies that are immensely engaging. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that his frequent topical focus – love gone wrong – has a universal appeal. Woodruff does it right in every way, bringing the songs to life with a world-weariness in his voice. The impact extends through the musical accompaniment which injects both an insistent rhythm and an air of wistfulness.
The performances conjure up images of a musician who has logged more miles and played more country dive bars than he chooses to remember. I suspect that Woodruff would confirm this to be the case.
on kip boardman
tj west | turnstyled junkpiled
By Kim Grant
April 28, 2015
Kip Boardman isn’t given nearly enough credit for the amazing body of work that he has produced. Adept at creating imagery with his lyrics, he also has a gift for melody and a unique tenor voice that quietly separates him from the crowded field of singer-songwriters. With folk, pop, and a thread of 70’s SoCal country rock running through all of his records, Boardman also weaves in his wry sense of humor to create a signature sound.
Boardman has released three previous solo albums; 2003’s Upon The Stars, 2005’s Hello I Must Be…, and 2011’s The Long Weight. Now, in 2015 he releases his fourth studio album, Boardman. Produced by Nelson Bragg (percussionist for Brian Wilson) on his own label, Steel Derrick Music, Boardman was recorded live in the studio by Rob Campanella who has worked with artists, Beachwood Sparks, Dead Meadow and The Tyde to name a few.
The album’s inception was attributed to a random live performance that Bragg stumbled upon. In an introduction to the record Bragg said, “In 2013 I saw Kip Boardman and his great band blow the doors off of a dive on the Westside of L.A. with only 15 people watching. I asked Kip if he could replicate that set in a studio with this band. He did, lead vocals included. This record is what I heard on that amazing night.”
Boardman’s band for the record is comprised of well-known Los Angeles players, Dave Gleason, Eric Heywood (both on guitars with Heywood doubling on pedal steel), Rob Douglas on bass, Steve Mugalian on drums and Boardman, who plays Wurlitzer piano. Boardman is more rockin’ album than its predecessors kicking off with two songs that have previously been released; “Running Right” off of The Long Weight and “The Truth and The Idiot” off of Hello I Must Be…which Boardman claims, “…was always meant to sound more like this version.”
“Where Does the Night Go” is an elegant tune that features a mysterious chord shift in the main verse riff. “Holding the Bag” features some lovely lead trade-offs between Gleason and Heywood while “I’ve Got Time For You” is a peppy number that was written and arranged on the spot. “O the Ache” features a wurly pedal throughout the song and is the song Boardman declares his personal favorite, “Syd Barrettish work from Gleason and stratospheric pedal steel from Heywood over a kraut rock denouement with psychedelic engineering from Rob Campanella.”
Boardman will have an April 28th release on vinyl and digital and Bragg will be presenting a live performance in Los Angeles May 7th to celebrate the release. Let’s hope that with the sublime, Boardman; Kip Boardman might finally receive the wider recognition that he deserves.
Boardman album release party May 7th at El Cid as part of the Honky Tonk Hacienda series 1911 Sunset in Los Angeles, CA 8:30 pm
LONG PLAYER LATE | FRENCH | BOARDMAN REVIEW
April 5, 2015
Translation: As true as the hedonic system preserves the individual and the species, listening Kip Boardman mobilizes more cognitive aspects as it provides wealth and pleasure. Fortunately for him the cursor is not success, which itself is a myth, but the love, by the way, is the only thing to ensure our survival; the love of music and beautiful work in this case.
Like hardly anyone remembers deflectors on cars or telephones, the less intelligent phones that we who remember, for example, Nick Holmes (Soulful Crooner) or Thomas Jefferson Kaye (First Grade).
Kip Boardman not only not forgot any of this, but even more sublime and transmits a little as if he had suffered a multitude of cuttings, failing to have had several lives.
Here, captured live full studio, no excess of arrangements that can atrophy, but accumulation of subtle details, mastery and absolute elegance.
In a voice that never falters, intimate and captivating Kip Boardman, with this fourth album (and the first vinyl!) Provides the music he loves, with a natural ease and nonchalance claimed, and hope you will follow ... as simple as that.
NO DEPRESSION | BOARDMAN ALBUM REVIEW
by Frank Gutch, Jr
March 26, 2015
Kip Boardman's back. I know it doesn't mean much to most of you, judging by the lack of response to his earlier albums, but it should. You missed out, plain and simple. Not that there isn't time to right your wrongs. Boardman's previous albums are still available (at least, I hope they are) and after hearing his latest, Boardman, some of you will trek back to hear them and probably wonder how you missed them the first time around.
Me, I have friends, and one of them (Justin Smith, then pounding drums for Old Californio and now Nocona) pointed me toward The Long Weight back in 2010 or so. Friends are good to have, let me tell you. The Long Weight was evidently just what I was looking for back then and I set about writing a glowing review which I am sure few, if any, read. So allow me to plagiarize myself with a few lines from that review. You see, I took a road trip expecting to hear a few albums needing review. The Long Weight was the first and never left the player.
"I should be able to give you a hundred reasons why I dig Kip," I wrote, "but I can't. As I listened, I wasn't even sure I liked the album that much but something kept me from replacing the disc and by the end of the trip, I was sold. This guy is amalgamation of so many things I have liked about music over the years and it is hard to separate them. There are bits and pieces which drew me to artists like Finnigan & Wood, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, and even Phillip Goodhand-Tait and Nick Holmes, whose Soulful Crooner album remains one of my real treasures to this day. (Boardman) sings with an ease which puts you at your ease and, holy crap, can the guy write!"
I go on to highlight certain of the tracks and compare them to songs by artists such as those listed above and as obscure as Ophelia Hope, a group based in Norway which put out a beauty of an album and then stepped off the musical escalator, as far as I can tell. I do not compare anyone to bands I love as much as Ophelia Hope for no reason. Trust me!
The new album is at least as good as The Long Weight. Here's what you need to know. The band is small and simple--- keyboards, two guitars (Dave Gleason and Eric Heywood, who doubles on pedal steel), bass (Rob Douglas), drums (Steve Mugalian), and Boardman, who plays the Wurlitzer piano. A Wurlitzer! I love the Wurlitzer and to hear it as pretty much the keyboard makes me happy, indeed. And in case you didn't know it (or don't know it), that is one extremely talented group of musicians. Heywood is much sought after as a session man as are all of these musicians, but I know Gleason from his own albums and songs such as “If You're Going Through Hell” and “The Rails Don't Run Here” and the much earlier but equally as impressive “Midnight, California.” The guy is a monster guitarist and a telecasting picker of note.
But back to Boardman. As on The Long Weight, Boardman serves up a very impressive string of songs, some bordering on compositions. All lyrically solid and formed to the music. Of all the tracks, the capper (“Oh The Ache”) is my favorite, though a few others did their part. “Oh the Ache” is an anthem of sorts, the kind of song bands use to finish a set--- long, driving, a bedrock on which to allow Gleason and Heywood and even Boardman to experiment, using sound chambers and tremolo to their hearts' content. If any song demand an encore, it is this one. Worth it for Heywood's pedal steel alone.
We owe thanks to Nelson Bragg for this one. He stopped by a club one night and watched Boardman and band toss these songs out to an almost empty room and was enthralled. He asked Boardman if he could do that in a studio. The rest is history. A pat on the back to Bragg and the rest of the crew. Another one to add to my Album of the Year list.
BOARDMAN PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
KIP BOARDMAN TO RELEASE: BOARDMAN ON STEEL DERRICK MUSIC.
Produced by Nelson Bragg, Percussionist/Vocalist for Brian Wilson.
BOARDMAN was Recorded Live In The Studio by Rob Campanella.
"In 2013 I saw Kip Boardman and his great band blow the doors off of a dive on the Westside of L.A. with only 15 people watching. I asked Kip if he could replicate that set in a studio with this band. He did, lead vocals included. This record is what I heard on that amazing night."
"His songs bear a resonant late 70's 'LA Country rock' feel that fits comfortably with his bright alto vocals…(Boardman) mines the rich musical landscapes of a distinctly American songbook reminiscent of Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb and Allen Toussaint."
Los Angeles, March 2015—The self-titled, Boardman is Kip Boardman's fourth studio album, and a first for Nelson Bragg's Steel Derrick Music. A longtime member of the Los Angeles music scene, and a sought after session player, Boardman has assembled an envious roster of studio and touring music veterans. Manning lead vocals and keys, Boardman once again has collaborated with Ray LaMontagne band member Eric Heywood on pedal steel and guitar, on bass is Rob Douglas (Nick Waterhouse, Apex Manor), on drums, Steve Mugalian (Dave Alvin) and B-bending master, Dave Gleason on guitar.
While Boardman is more rocking than his last effort, the halcyonic, The Long Weight, it still retains the signatures of Kip Boardman's music—wry sense of humor, a gift for melody and lyrics, which are sung in his reed-like tenor. Boardman's music is hard to pin into one genre of music. You will hear a hybrid of 70's AM rock, rootsy sounding pop and L.A. country rock. Or as Boardman, puts it, "The music I play strives for melody that gently rubs on chordal movement so elegant no one even notices…"
On this live-in-studio session recorded in the old time style of Sun Studio, Boardman kicks off with two re-recorded songs: "Running Right" from The Long Weight and "Truth And The Idiot" from the 2006 release, Hello I Must Be…which Boardman says, "…was always meant to sound more like this version." "Where Does the Night Go" is an elegant tune that features a mysterious chord shift in the main verse riff. "Holding The Bag" features some lovely lead trade-offs between Gleason and Heywood while "I’ve Got Time For You" is a peppy number that was written and arranged on the spot. "Oh The Ache" features a Wurly pedal throughout the song and is the song Boardman declares his personal favorite, "Syd Barrettish work from Gleason and stratospheric pedal steel from Heywood over a krautrock denouement with psychedelic engineering from Rob Campanella."
Originally from Marblehead, MA, Kip Boardman was drawn to the warm California sun and made his home in Los Angeles. He quickly became a stalwart member of the local L.A. roots rock royalty, playing alongside Randy Weeks, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson and Ramsay Midwood. His first solo effort was the country, folk and pop-tinged, Upon The Stars in 2003, which garnered playlist status on L.A.'s KCRW that year.
Boardman will have an April 28th release on vinyl and digital only.
For more information: http://www.kipboardman.com/
About Nelson Bragg: Nelson Bragg has been Brian Wilson's percussionist/vocalist since 2003. He also toured with The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Celebration, summer 2012. A veteran on the L.A. pop scene, Bragg has played/recorded with L.A. bands Stew and The Negro Problem, Seth Swirsky (The Red Button), The Quarter After, The Mockers, Wrecking Crew members Hal Blaine, Don Randi and Jerry Cole, and produced and toured Europe with Anny Celsi among countless others. He also enjoyed a spot with the The Narada Michael Walden Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and San Francisco's Davis Hall backing up Sting, Billy Joel and James Taylor among many others.
Boardman is the first record to be released from Bragg's new studio and record label, Steel Derrick Music.
MORE ON KIP BOARDMAN
“His songs bear a resonant late 70’s ‘LA country rock’ feel that
fits comfortably with his bright alto vocals...(Boardman) mines
the rich musical landscapes of a distinctly American songbook
reminiscent of Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb and Allan
Toussaint. ” - No Depression Magazine
“...recalls the conversational ease of classic Paul Simon and the
70’s radio joy of Todd Rundgren.” - Mesmer Records
“Kip Boardman is a cool highbrid between the early Elton John
sort of singer/songwriter mixed with bands like The Jayhawks
and a softer Neil Young, Harvest era.” - Melodic.net
“Kip Boardman...has an easy radio tone and a lifestyle of the 70’s,
and in this musical vein, there is always a bright sky and an
unobstructed view with often surreal soundscapes.”
THE YEAR WE TRIED TO KILL THE PAIN
ON NELSON BRAGG
we get what we want
We Get What We Want Review……
"They don't make records like they used to." So goes the familiar anguished cry of music lovers over 30, disenchanted by -if not disgusted with--the soulless pabulum that constitutes modern-day Top 40 radio. Personally, I've always countered that it's a lack or airplay and exposure that has created that perception; there's always been lots of great music out there. Case in point: Nelson Bragg's "We Get What We Want."
Drummer/percussionist in Brian Wilson's superb recording and touring unit, and currently performing those duties on the Beach Boys Reunion Tour, Bragg pulls off a dazzling star turn here as a virtual one-man band and choir. The result is a jangly gem of pure pop for both "now" and "then" people. Clearly steeped in influences ranging from the Byrds, the Hollies and his current employers, Bragg has managed to synthesize his own favorite pet sounds of the `60s and `70s into a wholly contemporary celebration of melodic songcraft.
The opening three-part harmony salvo of "You Could Believe" intros a power pop nugget that hints at the artist's occasionally retro sensibilities, but his full sonic spectrum is expansive, as revealed over the course of the ensuing ten tracks. Track 2 -and one of the album's true standouts--"What She's Done to Him," surely would be a major chart contender in a more pop-friendly climate. Fellow Wilson bandmate, Probyn Gregory, contributes a superb, fully self-executed horn arrangement.
If the initial two tracks are a nod to the `60s, "Trying Hard to Please You," illustrates Bragg's facility for the more complex melodic structures that ushered in the FM radio era and continue to flourish in the indie rock realm. This would be a great staple in both Alternative and Americana formats. Next, Nelson trips the psych fantastic with a Mellotron-laden tip of the hat to his boss, "Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long," from Brian Wilson's debut solo album. It's a nod of appreciation made all the more significant by Braggs' loving reinvention of the track. It takes some cojones to re-arrange Brian Wilson, and the artist pulls it off. Beach Boys' completists purchasing the album for this one track will be handsomely rewarded by the remaining original selections.
"Steel Derrick 1979," a nostalgic look back at the summer of Nelson Bragg's 18th year wouldn't be out of place on a Ben Folds album and features guest vocals by the legendary and paradoxically unsung Evie Sands.
By mid-album, Bragg's lyrical flair begins to emerge from behind the glare of his melodic gifts. Yet having said that, "Let the Cruel World Go" sports a melody worthy of Burt Bacharach or early Joe Jackson.
Fantasy time: if we could pull Allan Clarke out of retirement, snag Graham Nash from CSN and add Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliot in a full-tilt Hollies reunion, here's their comeback single: "She Used to Love Me." It ain't gonna happen, so thank goodness for Nelson Bragg's original. (Coincidentally, I received Bragg's "We Get What We Want." in the mail the same day that I received the Hollies' new BBC compilation, "Radio Fun." How's that for Kismet?)
Aside from providing the album's title (extracted from the song's lyrics), "I'm in No Mood" and "Welcome to Nowhereville" will appeal to aficionados of West Coast sounds from Roger McGuinn to Dwight Yoakam. And I expect that more widespread exposure of this album will result in numerous invitations to Bragg for co-writing gigs.
"Tyme and Tyde Agree" is an ethereal blend of `60s country pedal steel and British Folk harmony, courtesy of Anny Celsi, whose own 2009 album, "Tangle Free World," was produced by Bragg. And rounding out the collection is "Everything I Want to Be," a lyrically unabashed -yet, without a hint of arrogance--celebration of where Nelson Bragg's life and career have currently intersected. Utterly disarming, and a tell-tale indicator of the artist's appreciation of his present good fortune and the joy of his musical pursuits.
It says a lot about an album when the Brian Wilson song included isn't necessarily even one of the best tracks. In "We Get What We Want.," Nelson Bragg has crafted a collection with stylistic nods to the past, yet avoids retro clichés, making this a truly modern-day offering. Creating something new that stands tall alongside your influences is a formidable accomplishment. Highly recommended, this one will remain in high rotation for a long time to come.
You Could Believe, What She's Done to Him, Let the Cruel World Go, She Used to Love Me, Tyme & Tyde Agree, Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long
For fans of:
The Association, The Beach Boys, Big Star, The Byrds, The Cyrkle, Fairport Convention, Ben Folds Five, Fountains of Wayne, Harper's Bizarre, The Hollies, Freedy Johnston, The Posies, Emmitt Rhodes, Todd Rundgren, Matthew Sweet, Dwight Twilley/Phil Seymour, Brian Wilson
January 15, 2013 - Goldmine Magazine “The Music Collector’s Magazine.”
Submitted by John M. Borack – Freelance Music Journalist
John Borack’s Top 20 Album of 2012 – “2012 was a great year for new music, with albums from former major label favorites sharing space with releases from relative upstarts from the indie pop world. For my money, here’s a look at the best of the best from last year.”
1. Wanderlust – “Record Time”
2. David Myhr – “Soundshine”
3. Nelson Bragg – “We Get What We Want”
OHMYGODTHISSONGISGREAT. That’s what Brian Wilson/Beach Boys sideman Nelson Bragg calls his publishing company, and it’s also the phrase this writer uttered 11 times over after being overwhelmed by Bragg’s sophomore offering. What we get is 11 little slices of pure pop heaven, each featuring Bragg’s understated melodic gifts and multi-instrumental talents. The overall vibe is of a ’60s-era sunshine-pop record, lovingly updated and wrapped in a beautifully sung and artfully played and produced package.
4. the dB’s – “Falling Off the Sky”
5. Throwback Suburbia – “Shot Glass Souvenir”
6. Susanna Hoffs – “Someday”
7. Graham Parker & the Rumour – “Three Chords Good”
8. Shoes – “Ignition”
9. Cliff Hillis – “Dream Good”
10. Marty Graveyard – “Summer Holiday”
11. Frank Bango – “Touchy Feely”
12. Lannie Flowers – “New Songs Old Stories”
13. Gavin Guss – “On High”
14. Bill Lloyd – “Boy King of Tokyo”
15. Eytan and the Embassy – “Everything Changes”
16. Ruby Free – “Introducing Ruby Free”
17. Redd Kross – “Researching the Blues”
18. The Well Wishers – “Dreaming of the West Coast”
19. Chris Richards & the Subtractions – “Get Yer La La’s Out”
20. Didn’t Planet – “We’re Goin’ Nowhere”
January 10, 2013 - Absolute Powerpop “A place to discover the latest and greatest in power pop releases.”
Submitted by David Bash – founder and CEO of The International Pop Overthrow Music Festival
David Bash’s annual “Best of…” – 125 of the best power pop albums of 2012. David is exposed to and listens to literally thousands of albums every year, as he continually researches and tours the world promoting only the best in pop music. For 2012, he placed Nelson Bragg’s “We Get What We Want” at the very top of the list… Number One! Click on the above link for the full list… here is a partial view:
Top 125 Albums
1. Nelson Bragg-We Get What We Want (Steel Derrick)
2. Marty Graveyard-Summer Holiday (V2)
3. David Myhr-Soundshine (Lojinx, Thistime)
4. The Tor Guides-Strawberries & Chocolates (Self-Released)
5. Green Day-Tre! (Reprise/Warner Bros.)
6. Throwback Suburbia-Shot Glass Souvenir (Self-Released)
7. King Washington-The Gears (Self-Released)
8. Sweet Diss and The Comebacks-Emerald City Love Song (Thistime)
9. The Kik-Springlevend (Excelsior)
10. Sitcom Neighbor-Charmed (Gravy Works Music Group)
11. The dB’s-Falling Off The Sky (Bar None)
12. The Trashed Romeos-Where Dreamers Never Go (Trashy Creatures)
13. The Primitives-Echoes and Rhymes (Elefant)
14. Shoes-Ignition (Black Vinyl)
15. Jared Lekites-Star Map (Self-Released)
16. The Explorers Club-Grand Hotel (Rock Ridge Music)
17. Wanderlust-Record Time (Zip)
18. Green Day-Uno! (Reprise/Warner Bros.)
19. Kurt Baker-Brand New Beat (Collector’s Club)
20. Ruby Free-Introducing Ruby Free (Sodastar)
November 9, 2012 - The Examiner.com
By David Beard of Endless Summer Quarterly (ESQ) and The Examiner.com
For those of you who attended the Beach Boys 50th tour, you may have seen Nelson Bragg walking around before shows with his new CD in hand. For those smart enough to pick it up you have been enjoying the cool sounds inside for months now. For those of you who don’t have a copy yet, here’s a taste of what your missing.
View slideshow: Nelson Bragg
The opening notes to the first track, “You Could Believe,” it’s evident to my ears that Nelson has dramatically grown as an artist since his debut album Day Into Night. With We Get What We Want, he plays with a controlled abandon… Treating the music with quality production, while keeping the focus of his muse loose and easy.
Track two, “What She’s Done To Him,” is a new classic. Accompanied by Brian Wilson band mates Probyn Gregory and Nick Walusko, Nelson acrobatically sings somewhat vindictive lyrics… This song is kin to the Beatles “Run For Your Life” from Rubber Soul.
Video: “Steel Derrick 1979″
The album carries a fresh and vibrant groove throughout, but the real treasure is Bragg’s brooding take on Brian’s “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long.” Nelson leaves a personalized thumbprint on this track… You can really hear what he’s gleaned from Wilson since joining the band in 2003. Not surprising, he tapped into the painful melancholy that Brian is known for and converted a new mélange of Beach Boys/Beatles sounds into a sweet and beautiful song.
“Steel Derrick 1979” is an acoustic trip. “Let The Cruel Go” is a power ballad that finds Nelson sharing piano duties with Gary Griffin. “She Used To Love Me” showcases a very cool Dobro (played by John Lebhar). And like “What She’s Done To Him,” captures the essence of a lost love that still holds bitterness.
From beginning to end listen to the leaking influences of the Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Dave Clark 5, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Jethro Tull; providing a unique blend of promise, hope and realization. Overall, We Get What We Want expresses a depth and breadth of an artist using a myriad of colors to express the notes that seemingly revealed themselves throughout the recording process… At times sounding cathartic.
Suggested listening: “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long,” “You Could Believe,” “What She’s Done To Him” and “Everything I Want To Be”
November 9, 2012 - The Examiner.com
By David Beard of Endless Summer Quarterly (ESQ) and The Examiner.co
October 30, 2012 - Bucket Full of Brains
By David Bash – contributor to BoB; founder and CEO of The International Pop Overthrow Music
Nelson Bragg has been one busy man for the past several years, serving as percussionist in Brian Wilson’s band, and more recently doing the same for The Beach Boys, as well as playing drums with a handful of Los Angeles outfits. Amidst all of that, he’s somehow find the time to write and record what is most definitely one of the best albums of 2012, We Get What We Want. With a little help from a bunch of his LA friends, Bragg has created a work that forces your attention by its sheer will, as it’s a disc filled with acoustic-electric pop soundscapes featuring Bragg’s strong cum pretty lead vocals and harmonies, and chord changes that Michael Brown or Kevin Kane would have been proud to have written. Fans of lush power pop will love the opening track, “You Could Believe”; “What She’s Done To Him” is fortified by giddy-up drums, a sparkling melody, and real horns (!); “Steel Derrick 1979” would be a great addition to any soundtrack with its panoramic, wide-eyed feel; the Spectorian “She Used To Love Me” is probably the best song on the album; and “Tyme and Tyde Agree” is like Dark Side Of The Moon-era Pink Floyd meets Neil Young…or something like that! We Get What We Want also features, appropriately enough, a slow, very tender take on BW’s “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long”.
Without wishing to sound cheeky, anyone who purchases this disc will definitely get what they want. (www.steelderrickmusic.com)
October 1, 2012 – “Speaking of endless summers…”
By Mike Lidskin (Sacramento, CA) - Sound 0f the Suburbs (The Recharged Radio magazine in association with The Perfect Pop Co-op)
(click on the word “Articles” on bottom left of above link)
…the Beach Boys were kind enough to turn their touring percussionist Nelson Bragg loose for a bit. Long enough for him to release a great solo record, “We Get What We Want.” We’ve been waiting for this one- -his second release–for a few years, and it was well worth the wait.
What does it sound like? The Los Angeles-based Nelson is widely known in power pop circles, but I wouldn’t call it a power pop album. He’s known in Beach Boys circles–but save for a cover of the Brian Wilson-penned “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long,” it’s not a collection of surf/beach songs. The songs are shimmery and bright, with perfect harmonies, clever lyrics, and jangly guitars–kind of reminiscent of Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey’s early 1990’s album “Mavericks.” But there’s also a deeper, darker undertone. This level of depth takes me back to the Jayhawks’ 1995 landmark album “Tomorrow The Green Grass.”
What’s really interesting is that the more upbeat and poppy the songs get, the darker the sentiments are. A three song run, late in the album, of “She Used To Love Me,” “I’m In No Mood,” and the co-write with Rich McCulley, “Welcome To Nowhereville” exemplifies this. Strong melodies, soaring vocals, and yet the lyrics reveal an inner turmoil–waning relationships, a desired escape from a familiar, yet dead-end life. There is so much depth to both the sound and lyrics–you just need to explore this album to hear what I’m talking about. And take your time–you’ll hear more and more with repeated listens. This is a special album, and I highly recommend it.
August 29, 2012 Noise – Music New England
By J. DeStefano, associate editor
“Dedicated to Brian Wilson… Thanks for the road trip,” singer, songwriter, percussionist, and all-around artist, Nelson Bragg, writes in the liner notes of We Get What We Want. An individual best described as a melodic power-pop aficionado who has succeeded in crafting a dazzling sophomore record, Bragg has been a key fixture in Brian Wilson’s Band since 2003 and is now one of the musicians backing the Beach Boys. It is particularly admirable to see Bragg take elements of his influences and inspirations, molding them to create something unique and pleasing to listeners of all generations. For instance, the album’s opener, “You Could Believe,” keeps listeners on their toes as it shifts from a cappella harmonies evoking the treasured, multi-layered harmonies of the Beach Boys to a full-on sound reminiscent of the Byrds and the Beatles. The ethereal “Steel Derrick 1979” is also worth noting, with its utilization of an acoustic guitar, beautiful guest vocals supplied by Evie Sands, and the trumpet work of Probyn Gregory, one of Bragg’s bandmates from Brian Wilson’s Band. The record closes with “Everything I Want To Be,” a warm and welcoming tune that is, essentially, a celebration of friendship. It evokes summer nights spent around a campfire with compatriots, sharing anecdotes through spoken word and song. Bragg’s vocal is especially intimate here, its accessibility blending nicely with the track’s theme. We Get What We Want appears to be Bragg’s psychedelic love letter to the ’60s, so inspired is he by this timeless era.
August 27, 2012 – 4 out of 5 stars
“I noticed that all the tension had drained from my limbs, and that there was a soft mist in my eyes…”
By Michael Witheford – TimeOut (Melbourne, Australia)
By any measure We Get What We Want is an ambitious widescreen record, a dreamlike journey of soul-searching and nostalgia which would be impressive if the work of a six- or seven-piece band, let alone almost entirely the invention of one guy.
Nelson Bragg spends most of his time as percussionist and vocalist in Brian Wilson’s band, and has played on several Wilson albums, including the triumphantly re-recorded Smile. He’s also present on half of the new Beach Boys record, and is part of the touring band. You imagine that this proximity to musical magic –watching Brian Wilson fiddling on the piano writing songs in the studio for god’s sake! – has been a partial inspiration for this wonderfully expressive and impressive second album; a metaphysical emotional journey if you like. Or if not, just a record of sweet tunes layered with serene harmonies and brought to life with superb arrangements and intriguing instrumentation.
Plenty of space and time has been set aside to explore thoughts and emotions, and in the most part they’re coloured with melancholy. Regrets about, or nostalgia for, the past, doubts which still can’t be shaken off, jealousy. But there’s wonder and joy too.
The inter-breeding of genres can be dangerous in the wrong hands but Bragg’s experience means it’s in safe hands here. The music hints strongly at an affection for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (and any combination thereof – including the Hollies actually) but there are also the deft vocal flourishes and unexpected twists and turns you find in late ’60s, early ’70s Beach Boys songs. And it’s cool that some of the tunes are amped up with some welcome power-pop (oh for a better term) punch, which reminds me mostly of the mighty Cotton Mather, but there are rumours in there too of Badfinger, Dwight Twilley and the Shoes.
The contagious opening tracks, ‘You Could Believe’ and ‘What She’s Done to Him’ get stuck in your head on first listen, and are highlighted by the woodwind and brass contributions of fellow Wilson band/Beach Boy buddy Probyn Gregory, whose talents colour the material in the same way the Beatles’ arty stuff often benefited when George Martin got a flugelhorn or trumpet in.
There’s a tremendous cover of Brian Wilson’s gorgeous ‘Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long’ from his 1988 solo album. Bragg’s yearning vocal performance is a fine tribute to the boss, and his precise application of all manner of bells, triangles, shakers, vibes and unidentified things-that-go-click-and-clack is testament to how good he is at his day job.
‘Steel Derrick 1979′ is a drowsy meditation on idealistic teenage holidays. The guest vocals of Evie Sands lend an elegiac shimmer to a brilliantly constructed song, featuring some quirky time-signature shifts which would please Burt Bacharach.
Bragg plays many of the guitars and keyboards on the record, and the drums too of course. He actually doesn’t seem to have many limitations. Banjo, stylophone … you name it. Wilson band alumni Nick Walusko adds plenty of sympatico electric guitar, and Nelson has loads of whizz kid mates I’ve never heard of, who pop by to make stunning contributions.
‘Tyme and Tyde Agree ’ built upon a simply perfect vocal duet with Anny Celsi is just beautiful, reminiscent of Fairport Convention, without sounding like it should be played in a muddy field to hippies. It’s the best track of an album with no flat spots. By my own journey’s end I noticed that all the tension had drained from my limbs, and that there was a soft mist in my eyes.
We Get What We Want is one of those largely DIY records that remains an undiscovered gem in the screaming vortex of modern music. But everything is a click away these days so seek this slice of orchestral Americana out online.
August 10, 2012 – “Dedicated to Brian Wilson … Thanks for the road trip.”
By Val Johnson-Howe – Beach Boys Britain Newsletter (United Kingdom)
Nelson is fun to watch on stage. Sometimes in a wild frenzy, sometimes concentrating, most often highly professional… but, always looking like he enjoys his work.
The same can be said for his latest, solo offering, which is “Dedicated To Brian Wilson …Thanks for the road trip”. All but four songs are composed, produced and arranged by Nelson Bragg and a very fine job he does of it, too.
Our introduction to the album, “You Could Believe” has a boldly a cappella harmony beginning which Nelson delivers beautifully by himself. This does not really give us a clue as to the rest of the track, which is full-on sound, “bitchin’ Les Paul Goldtop and Telecaster guitars” and I’m hearing memories of Byrds, Beatles… However, this song is clearly Nelson’s own. And it’s a great opener!
“What She’s Done To Him” has two of Nelson’s band mates from the Brian Wilson band, joining him; Probyn Gregory, on at least four different horns (would we expect anything less!) and Nicky Walusko, on guitars. There’s a lot going on in this track, but it’s all the better for that..and I just love those horns and precise vocal lines.
“Trying Hard To Please You” takes me back to Nelson’s “Day Into Night” album. This is a really heartfelt song…”I know I’m not the perfect man, the perfect man don’t cry…” What is “perfect”, anyway? Surely it is not to be human… We’ve got a lot of guitar going on here and a solo at the end of the song. Well complemented and well done.
“Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long” (by the Master himself, Brian Wilson – and arranged by Nelson) . What a Wonderful version by Nelson. Probyn joins in, with trumpet and great use of mellotron and piano. Beautifully done…and am I allowed to say that I prefer this version to the original, on Brian’s album? Well, I’d only be telling the truth…
“Steel Derrick 1979” - delightful acoustic guitar and voice starts the song, which is chock-full of wonderful sounds, most definitely enhanced by the lovely Evie Sands guest vocal, which fits so beautifully. Her ethereal “Into the watery night…in the watery night…” is just gorgeous and to the fade, along with Probyn’s trumpet, rounds off a lovely tale of past times and happy memories. This is one of my favourites.
“Let The Cruel World Go” - wow. Nelson Bragg meets Steely Dan…and Billy Joel. Gary Griffin helps out on piano, here and The Licorice Strings deliver perfect accompaniment. The pizzicato embellishments are just so right; the piano’s final note says it all…
“She Used To Love Me” is almost a solo Nelson track, which just displays his amazing talents. The song, written by Jeff Kelly (and apparently, the actual title is “My Mad Kitty”) includes the infamous Stylophone (for those of us who were there, particularly at a Nottingham gig, last year, you’ll remember this little fellow being brought into the spotlight) and Nelson is literally playing everything, except the Dobro, which is played by John Lebhar. Those vocals are just so Nelson – and all the better for it.
“I’m In No Mood” : more lovely jangly guitars, Byrds feel, easy on the ears and nice, simple harmony. A surprisingly fast end to the song, but actually, it works.
“Welcome To Nowhereville” is written by Nelson with Rich McCulley, who also plays 12 string guitars. Mr Walusko appears again on guitar duties. The song is pleasant enough, but possibly my least favourite on the album, which does not mean to say that it is in any way bad, at all. Nice to hear the use of a Hammond B3 (Carli Munoz played the solo on “Leaving This Town” on a Hammond B3!) and those jangly guitars again.
“Tyme And Tyde Agree ” Anny Celsi wrote this with Nelson and this track features lovely vocals from both as they duet in harmony. Probyn plays guitars on this and there is a very befitting pedal and steel lap. I’m drifting away…
“Everything I Want To Be” evokes feelings of folk evenings spent with good friends…with a touch of self-doubt. The sound of recorders bring back personal memories for me, but this is Nelson; voice exposed and somewhat disarming. The flavour is one of mulled wine and is warm, mellow and quite personal .
A lovely way to end an impressive second album from Nelson Bragg.
Available now from www.steelderrickmusic.com. I’d recommend you grab yourself a copy. You’ll Get What You Want…and then you can tell Nelson how much you enjoy the album, when you see him next.
August 10, 2012 – “Music Marvel” 4.5 out of 5 stars
By Kevin Mathews – Freelance Writer with Todayonline.com (Singapore)
If you turn(ed) up at the Indoor Stadium on Aug 22 to watch The Beach Boys (and why wouldn’t you?), you might notice the blonde percussionist/backing vocalist Nelson Bragg in the band. But this multi-instrumentalist is a singer-songwriter in his own right, plying his own melodic power pop ware, if not to mass audiences, then at least to appreciative music aficionados in the know. On this sophomore album, Bragg collates all his influences and inspirations into one cohesive whole, accurately channelling the jangly folk rock of The Byrds, the rustic heart of Buffalo Springfield, the propulsive power of The Who, and, of course, the gorgeous multi-layered vocal harmonies of The Beach Boys. Bragg even includes his own loving version of Brian Wilson’s Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long – utilising mellotron and keyboard sounds that places the song within the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds milieu – a fascinating perspective and thoroughly enjoyable. Listening to We Get What We Want, it’s hard not to consider the album Bragg’s personal love letter to the music of the ’60s – with tracks like Steel Derrick, Trying Hard To Please You, the psychedelic-flavoured She Used To Love Me, and the country-bluesy Tyme And Tyde Agree – a superb offering evoking the eclectic approach of that heady epoch. A marvellous achievement that proves the music of the past can be revitalised and be as relevant in this day and age.
July 7, 2012 – 5.0 out of 5 stars
By “Pop Phil” – Rate Your Music (A power pop fan who aims to draw an all-time 2000-album “best-of” power pop list)
Nelson Bragg’s sophomore album is a dazzling achievement with songs that sparkle with melodic inventiveness from beginning to end. Opening track ‘You Could Believe’ is one of 2012’s top powerpop songs on which the percussionist and vocalist for Brian Wilson’s touring band, now a member of the current Beach Boys reunion, demonstrates that he is not only an accomplished musician but also a first-rate songwriter and singer. No mean feat for a drummer!
July 3, 2012 “You Just Might Get What You Need…”
You probably all know that Nelson Bragg has been a key part of Brian Wilson’s band since 2003, and is now one of musicians backing the Beach Boys, and getting a well-deserved worldwide stage. You may (and should) know that Bragg has released his second solo album, We Get What We Want, a follow-up to the well-received “Day Into Night.”
The album treads a similar path to the first one, although there is more than a bit of a nod to power-pop as well as as classic pop territory. Clearly, a lot of care has gone into the songwriting and production of the album. Particular standouts include the melodic power-pop opener, I’m In No Mood, the classic pop sounding What She’s Done To Him and the wistful Steel Derrick 1979.
Brian Wilson fans will be interested in the cover of Baby Let Your Hair Go Wrong – unlike some recent attempts at Wilson/Beach Boys covers manages to find a different angle to the song, and even more depth to the melody than on the original Brian Wilson album.
This should be a compulsory purchase for all Brian Wilson and Beach Boys fans in supporting a key part of the band that has resurrected their reputations. However, it stands on its own as a very solid, and at times, brilliant record. You can order it on Nelson Bragg’s own website as well as Amazon.
June 27, 2012 “Surf’s Up 2012″
By Steve Simels – PowerPop Blog Spot
(Please note: Links to songs have been removed. You can listen to the referenced tunes right here on our Home Page!)
Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Nelson Bragg is — apart from being the long-time percussionist in Brian Wilson‘s touring band and currently providing the same service on the surprisingly wonderful Beach Boys reunion tour — one of the first people I reviewed here after NYMary gave me the metaphorical keys to the car back in 2007.
Bragg’s first album — Day Into Night — absolutely knocked me out at the time…
The basic musical template of the record is airy-sounding massed acoustic guitars overlaid with jangly twelve-string, choirboy harmonies, and the occasional strings, horns, recorders, discreet keyboards, and pedal steel; if you’re thinking early America or George Harrison‘s All Things Must Pass, you wouldn’t be off the mark. (The album’s only cover is a lovely version of “Dark Sweet Lady,” from Harrison’s eponymous 1979 solo album, which on the basis of Bragg’s take I’d say must be better than I remember). There are also little nods (perhaps unconscious, perhaps not) to Paul McCartney, the Zombies, the Millenium, and Todd Rundgren, but the album has its own personality in spades.
…and my opinion of it hasn’t changed since then. What HAS changed, however, is that Nelson has now been kind enough to allow me to post a song from it. So please enjoy the absolutely gloriously melodic opening track “Forever Days.”
Here’s the opening, and quite kick-ass, “You Could Believe,” to give you an idea of We Get What We Want‘s world-class smarts and melodic charm.I bring all this up because Nelson’s got a new album out and, in many ways, it’s even better than Day Into Night. In the sense that the songs are equally fab, but the overall approach is slightly harder rocking and power pop guitar oriented — think The Hollies circa “You Need Love” and some of Bill Lloyd‘s stuff.
In any case, you can — and definitely should — order We Get What We Want either over at Amazon or directly from Nelson’s website.Bottom line: If Shoes‘ Ignition wasn’t about to drop momentarily, this would be my early candidate for record of the year.
You’re welcome very much, BTW.
June 27, 2012 “Inspired. Surf’s Up” 5.0 out of 5 stars
By EJ (New York)
Once again, Nelson Bragg has produced a First Class album with “We get what we want”. Nelson is a modern day Troubadour who is prophetic with his lyrics, and produces rich Melodies and Harmonies truly worthy of his Mentor. Nelson’s first album “Day into Night” was truly an outstanding effort, one worthy of your ear. This second album surpasses what he had produced previously. Too often, today’s artists produce a first class album the first time around, and leave behind the throw a ways for their second.
Nelson has produce a fresh set for his second album that is so well written, it could be said that he leaves the new generation of singer/song writers to be inspired. Nelson IS the new inspiration for those Indie’s who wish to produce their own set of classics.
Someday soon, Nelson will be coming to your town, and when he does, get in line……
June 19, 2012 Mid-June Reviews from PopGeekHeaven
By Mike Baron
NELSON BRAGG: We Get What We Want (Steel Derrick)
Nelson Bragg has toured with Brian Wilson as a percussionist. On We Get What We Want he plays a whole lot of everything on a variety of muscular power pop songs with influences from both sides of the Atlantic. ”You Could Believe” gets things rolling with a sweet Hawks/Todd Rundgren vibe. ”What She’s Done to Him” is horn rock with a touch of The Bravery and a martial beat. ”Steel Derrick” is a knock-out punch with a Joni Mitchell meets Brian Wilson sensibility starting with a moody acoustic intro that climbs a glorious ladder to a devastating bridge. I used to live in Boston and have been to the Rockport quarries on which this song is based. It’s a magical place and Bragg captures that magic.
“She Used to Love Me” is sardonic lament in a Nick Lowe mode. ”I’m In No Mood” brings Byrdsian chime to this kiss-off song to a parasite. ”Welcome to Nowhereville” is anti-Buffett in topic and style with its rigorous change-ups and tricky bridge, and “Tyme and Tyde Agree” is the perfect hippie anthem. ”Once in a lifetime time and tide agree.” The album closes with the Beatlesque “Everything I Want to Be.”
June 19, 2012 “Beach Boys sideman shines in the spotlight” 5.0 out of 5 stars
By Scott Paton
“They don’t make records like they used to.” So goes the familiar anguished cry of music lovers over 30, disenchanted by -if not disgusted with–the soulless pabulum that constitutes modern-day Top 40 radio. Personally, I’ve always countered that it’s a lack or airplay and exposure that has created that perception; there’s always been lots of great music out there. Case in point: Nelson Bragg’s “We Get What We Want.”
Drummer/percussionist in Brian Wilson’s superb recording and touring unit, and currently performing those duties on the Beach Boys Reunion Tour, Bragg pulls off a dazzling star turn here as a virtual one-man band and choir. The result is a jangly gem of pure pop for both “now” and “then” people. Clearly steeped in influences ranging from the Byrds, the Hollies and his current employers, Bragg has managed to synthesize his own favorite pet sounds of the `60s and `70s into a wholly contemporary celebration of melodic songcraft.The opening three-part harmony salvo of “You Could Believe” intros a power pop nugget that hints at the artist’s occasionally retro sensibilities, but his full sonic spectrum is expansive, as revealed over the course of the ensuing ten tracks. Track 2 -and one of the album’s true standouts–“What She’s Done to Him,” surely would be a major chart contender in a more pop-friendly climate. Fellow Wilson bandmate, Probyn Gregory, contributes a superb, fully self-executed horn arrangement.If the initial two tracks are a nod to the `60s, “Trying Hard to Please You,” illustrates Bragg’s facility for the more complex melodic structures that ushered in the FM radio era and continue to flourish in the indie rock realm. This would be a great staple in both Alternative and Americana formats. Next, Nelson trips the psych fantastic with a Mellotron-laden tip of the hat to his boss, “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long,” from Brian Wilson’s debut solo album. It’s a nod of appreciation made all the more significant by Braggs’ loving reinvention of the track. It takes some cojones to re-arrange Brian Wilson, and the artist pulls it off. Beach Boys’ completists purchasing the album for this one track will be handsomely rewarded by the remaining original selections.”Steel Derrick 1979,” a nostalgic look back at the summer of Nelson Bragg’s 18th year wouldn’t be out of place on a Ben Folds album and features guest vocals by the legendary and paradoxically unsung Evie Sands.By mid-album, Bragg’s lyrical flair begins to emerge from behind the glare of his melodic gifts. Yet having said that, “Let the Cruel World Go” sports a melody worthy of Burt Bacharach or early Joe Jackson.Fantasy time: if we could pull Allan Clarke out of retirement, snag Graham Nash from CSN and add Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliot in a full-tilt Hollies reunion, here’s their comeback single: “She Used to Love Me.” It ain’t gonna happen, so thank goodness for Nelson Bragg’s original. (Coincidentally, I received Bragg’s “We Get What We Want.” in the mail the same day that I received the Hollies’ new BBC compilation, “Radio Fun.” How’s that for Kismet?)Aside from providing the album’s title (extracted from the song’s lyrics), “I’m in No Mood” and “Welcome to Nowhereville” will appeal to aficionados of West Coast sounds from Roger McGuinn to Dwight Yoakam. And I expect that more widespread exposure of this album will result in numerous invitations to Bragg for co-writing gigs.”Tyme and Tyde Agree” is an ethereal blend of `60s country pedal steel and British Folk harmony, courtesy of Anny Celsi, whose own 2009 album, “Tangle Free World,” was produced by Bragg. And rounding out the collection is “Everything I Want to Be,” a lyrically unabashed -yet, without a hint of arrogance–celebration of where Nelson Bragg’s life and career have currently intersected. Utterly disarming, and a tell-tale indicator of the artist’s appreciation of his present good fortune and the joy of his musical pursuits.It says a lot about an album when the Brian Wilson song included isn’t necessarily even one of the best tracks. In “We Get What We Want.,” Nelson Bragg has crafted a collection with stylistic nods to the past, yet avoids retro clichés, making this a truly modern-day offering. Creating something new that stands tall alongside your influences is a formidable accomplishment. Highly recommended, this one will remain in high rotation for a long time to come.Favorite tracks:You Could Believe, What She’s Done to Him, Let the Cruel World Go, She Used to Love Me, Tyme & Tyde Agree, Baby Let Your Hair Grow LongFor fans of:The Association, The Beach Boys, Big Star, The Byrds, The Cyrkle, Fairport Convention, Ben Folds Five, Fountains of Wayne, Harper’s Bizarre, The Hollies, Freedy Johnston, The Posies, Emmitt Rhodes, Todd Rundgren, Matthew Sweet, Dwight Twilley/Phil Seymour, Brian Wilson
June 11, 2012 “We Get What We Want”
By Andy Cassidy – Pennyblack Music (Glasgow, United Kingdom)
‘We Get What We Want’ is Nelson Bragg’s second solo album, and follows on neatly from where his 2007 debut, ‘Day into Night’, left off.
First track ‘You Could Believe’ opens with an energetic burst of vocal harmony and quickly settles into Nelson’s familiar brand of effervescent power pop. The track is superbly arranged, and Nelson’s vocals are powerful and confident. It’s the perfect start to the album, creating a celebratory mood reminiscent oft The Gigolo Aunts.
The album continues with the incredible ‘What She’s Done to Him’, a Monkees-style pop march featuring Nelson’s Brian Wilson band-mates Probyn Gregory and Nick Walusko. Gregory is a one-man brass quartet, playing an emphatic arrangement on trumpet, French horn, flugel horn and baritone horn while Nick Walusko’s electric guitar-work is, as one would expect, faultless. This is a song of rare quality, at once a perfect slice of pop and a “respectable” rock track.
One of the more intriguing songs on the album is Nelson’s cover of Brian Wilson’s ‘Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long’. In a recent interview with Pennyblack, Nelson said that Wilson had yet to hear the track but that perhaps it would serve as a 70th birthday gift from Nelson to his sometime boss in June. Nelson’s version of the song is simply gorgeous. He manages to squeeze every drop of emotion out of Wilson’s original while putting his own truly unique stamp on it. The mark of a good cover is giving the listener something that they didn’t get from the original, and Nelson’s version of ‘Baby…’ delivers in spades.
Another highlight of the album is ‘She Used to Love Me’, a psychedelic-tinged, country-flavoured song with a fantastic meandering slide guitar line and yet another top-notch vocal from Nelson.
The album closes with the folky ‘Everything I Want to Be’. Yet again, the song features a great backing track, this time including harpsichord, alto and tenor recorders and a cello. This arrangement is typical of the remainder of the album – like Brian Wilson, Nelson seems to have an innate grasp of just what instruments each track needs.
The cliché goes that one’s second album is always the difficult one. If that is true, then Nelson Bragg has sidestepped this particular problem with style and delivered an album which is a real treasure. Vocally he sounds superb and the arrangements and production throughout the album are just perfect. The growth that Nelson has shown as an artist since his, admittedly excellent, 2007 debut is staggering.
This summer, Nelson is touring with the Beach Boys, but hopefully when their fiftieth anniversary tour is over, Nelson will take this album on the road. I for one can’t wait to hear how it translates to a live performance. In the meantime, though, I’m more than happy with the album. In fact, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to it again!
June 17, 2012 “We Get What We Want”
By John Borack (Goldmine Magazine – “the Music Collector’s Magazine”)
OHMYGODTHISSONGISGREAT.That’s the name of Nelson Bragg’s publishing company, and also the phrase this writer uttered 11 times over after being overwhelmed by Bragg’s sophomore effort, the near-perfect We Get What We Want. What we get is 11 little slices of pure pop heaven, each featuring Bragg’s understated melodic gifts and multi-instrumental talents. The overall vibe is of a ’60s-era sunshine-pop record, lovingly updated and wrapped in a beautifully sung and artfully played and produced package.Bragg colors We Get What We Want with many different shades from his musical paintbox: there’s some cool straight-up power pop with “You Could Believe,” recorded with instrumental assistance from Michael Simmons from California-based popsters sparkle*jets UK; there’s lilting, jangly confections such as “I’m in No Mood” and “Welcome to Nowheresville,” whose 12-string guitars and warm, inviting melodies are sure to get popheads’ loins a-tingling; there’s a brief country-inflected diversion with “She Used to Love Me,” which also features a great little psychedelic twist at the song’s outset; and there’s a dreamy duet with the most talented Anny Celsi on the languid, stunning “Time and Tyde Agree,” which is the aural equivalent of a gentle ocean breeze.Bragg also reverently covers his current boss Brian Wilson on a winning take of “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long,” bathes a tune titled “Steel Derrick 1979″ in nostalgic beauty via some more lovely vocals and a set of lyrics that recall his Massachusetts childhood, and peppers the rather bitter “What She’s Done to him” with an insistent, galloping drumbeat and plenty of horns, courtesy of the talented Probyn Gregory. The disc closes with an acoustic guitar-based chill of a tune, the brief, self-confessional “Everything I Want to Be.” It’s a perfect wrap up to a marvelous album that is certain to rank high on many year-end best of 2012 lists.John M. Borack
June 13, 2012 “Beach Fantastic one-man band indie sensation” 5.0 out of 5 stars
By GlobalChangeSupercenters (Salem, NY)
There are brilliant pop auteurs fated to issue self-produced, self-played masterpieces of commitment and skill destined for minor acclaim, and Nelson Bragg’s latest is a worthy inheritor of this rich tradition. There are great songs here, played in his inimitable, self-chosen style of layered vocals, power pop flourishes and production touches, and an earnest sense of sunshine popcraft.
Standout tracks include the stunning “Trying to Hard to Please you,” with a genuinely “epic” Telecaster solo ramping the song up that realm of ambitious power pop greatness achieved by the Rosenbergs and Splitsville and Chris von Sneidern among a few others. “Steel Derrick” and “Welcome to Nowhereville” are expertly played and conceived, yet the next batch in line indicates that this is also a pop record, despite its left-field, wondermint genesis – a flute here suggests Firefall, a lyric or three suggests Dan Fogelberg – not bad records to harken to, but not necessarily the only way to live a pop-filled life. Buy the record, be thankful that someone made some enduring art out of plying “Kokomo” to aging rich boomers.
May 26, 2012 “Steel Derrick Music Releases “We Get What We Want” – and Nelson Bragg Has Definitely Got It”
Released on PR.com
An engaging and eclectic blend of 11 power pop songs – pure sonic bliss! Nelson Bragg captures the heart of the matter with remnant sounds and harmonies of The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Joe Jackson, The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and more. Bragg’s sophomore album is getting rave reviews and selling quite well, as he promotes it while on the road touring as percussionist with none other than The Beach Boys, themselves. Dig in and enjoy.
Rockport, MA, May 26, 2012 –(PR.com)– Nelson Bragg has done it again with “We Get What We Want.” And Bragg has definitely “got it.” Steel Derrick Music has just released Bragg’s second CD, which consists of 11 eclectic masterpieces, stemming from Bragg’s beloved influences, the likes of George Harrison & The Beatles, Joe Jackson, The Byrds, Steely Dan, David Crosby, and Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys, to name a few.
But Nelson Bragg is clearly a name unto his own. The rich and distinctive harmonies, strong melodic lines, and stimulating percussion are intimate and personal languages of his own musical talents.
A veteran of numerous power-pop outfits, Bragg folds his myriad musical and life experiences into a sprawling opus of pop-rock splendor. A European pop critic noted “this album exemplifies everything that is great about quality pop: instantly catchy hooks; sharp melodies; lush, elaborate harmonies; and intricate, thoughtful and unexpected arrangements.”
The songs on “We Get What We Want” range from pop to progressive psych to folk and more. For anyone who appreciates music, “We Get What We Want” is essential to own. The music covers a wide variety of rock styles, but every song is blessed with a catchy tune and witty, intelligent lyrics.
“You Could Believe” starts this masterpiece of an album on a pounding rock note. Bragg seems to pack decades of pop into this one song. “Trying Hard To Please You” has somewhat of an eerie air of personal desperation about it. There are a couple of remakes on here as well. “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long” is an obscure and beautiful melodic piece of art, written by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and released on his first solo album in 1988. “She Used To Love Me” is an even more obscure English recording by the Green Pajamas. But all 11 songs have Bragg’s creative influence showing off his natural feel for mesmerizing melodies and alluring twists and turns, offering many unexpected surprises.
This album is certainly not macabre. There are no gimmicks here, just pure heart-felt melodic rock and a simple, yet-engaging approach to the tried-and-true rock formula without the rock star posturing. Bragg continues to fight to bring back the good side of rock and roll, a rather daunting task in today’s musical world dominated by heavy pounding house sounds and angry young lyrics. Bragg is winning the fight.
A true pop artist down can’t be kept down. This catchy album will entertain on every level, for a long, long time to come.
Available now at at NelsonBragg.com.
May 24, 2012 “We Get What We Want”
By Lyric Seidensticker (Larkspur, California)
Nelson Bragg’s sophomore release is more than just a follow-up record. With high standards set from the pop masterpiece Day Into Night, We Get What We Want breaks the mold. Rampant with rich harmonies, catchy, melodic hooks and introspective yet digestible lyrics, We Get What We Want sets the bar even higher. The standout tracks are Bragg’s original compositions. “What She’s Done To Him” seamlessly revives a 1960’s west coast pop sound. “Trying Hard to Please You” lifts a veil of introspection only to reveal an alluring shadow. “Steel Derrick 1979” illustrates Bragg at his finest; the meeting of a perfect hook, vivid imagery and rock solid vocals lend itself to auditory ecstasy. However, even Bragg’s cover tracks are so ingeniously recorded that they appear to be his own. The Brian Wilson composition “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long” translates into a breezy, intoxicating track. The Jeff Kelly composition “She Used to Love Me” is stellar and fittingly spiced with a dobro. Bragg’s vocals match each track perfectly, transcending unique compositions to new heights. We Get What We Want reads like a page-turning novel; you’re bound to pick it up again for another listen.
May 22, 2012 “Highly Recommended by Power Popaholic”
By Power Popaholic – Your #1 source for Power Pop Reviews & Opinion
Nelson Bragg has spent the last several years recording and touring extensively as percussionist and vocalist for Brian Wilson’s touring band, and now the current Beach Boys reunion. He works with a stellar cast of musicians including Probyn Gregory and Anny Celsi of The Brian Wilson Band. Unlike 2007′s Day Into Night, Bragg’s compositions are bigger and supported by lusher, richer orchestration. The sound is like a soothing blend of The Byrds, Posies and Dan Fogelberg (with a touch of Beach Boys too). The acapella harmonies usher in “You Could Believe” and we’re treated to superb jangle filled melody. “What She’s Done To Him” is solid West Coast styled pop with horns accenting each verse. Nelson also covers “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long” from Brain Wilson’s first solo LP, with a relaxed island feel and dense harmonies in the bridge and horns in the break. The tone of “Steel Derrick 1979″ is more along the lines of Gordon Lightfoot and the epic “Let The Cruel World Go” is a piano lead ballad of the highest order, with a full string accompaniment.
“She Used To Love Me” is my favorite song on the album, with multiple guitar tracks and a sitar lead it recalls The latter era Hollies or Beau Brummels. The pastoral twang of “Tyme and Tyde Agree” is another gem and duel with co-writer Anny Celsi. The Celtic feel of the “Everything I Want To Be” is beautiful, but the instrumentation overshadows the melody here. Overall highly recommended and the production and mastering is done with the audiophile in mind. It’s streaming on his site, so don’t miss this one!
May 22, 2012 “We Get What We Want” (Steel Derrick Music)
By Lee Zimmerman, Lee’s Listening Stack: No Depression Americana and Roots Music – The Roots Music Authority
Nelson Bragg’s sense of triumph appears to come naturally. After all, he’s currently playing percussion in the Beach Boys touring band, cause for his devotion to be reinforced by the album’s dedication to Brian Wilson and a stunning cover of Wilson’s “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long.” The fact that his music – We Get What We Want is the follow-up to his well received debut, Day Into Night – successfully emulates his musical mentor is a credit both to his own powers of interpretation and his mentor’s overriding influence. Yet it also becomes clear that the subordinate role Bragg plays on tour offers only a hint of his true musical prowess. Here he handles all the vocals – both solo and multi-tracked – as well as guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, percussion and even an occasional glockenspiel. That’s no small accomplishment, but his interpretive powers only prove the potency of his compositions, particularly in songs like “You Could Believe and “What She’s Done To Him,” each an exuberant and effusive study in perfect pop songcraft. Thankfully, Bragg’s bagged the chance to step out on his own, which makes We Get What We Want seem all the more prophetic as a result.
May 21, 2012 “Eleven Tracks of Sonic Bliss!” 5 out of 5 stars
By Laurie Biagini, songwriter/singer of 60’s California-influenced sunshine-pop (Vancouver, British Columbia)
It is with great delight that I had the opportunity to review Nelson Bragg’s sophomore album, “We Get What We Want”, as I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing his debut CD “Day Into Night”, back in 2007. It was my intention to present a few highlights from the album but upon listening to this CD, I found that I could not leave out any tracks as they all are unique and present something special in their own way. I write from a standpoint of what I experience and the visuals I imagine as I am hearing the music. So without further introduction, here are my impressions of “We Get What We Want”.
The album opens with an energetic start as Nelson’s lush vocal harmonies grab our attention in “You Could Believe”. Wasting no time, we’re now off to the races with this peppy, energetic little firecracker of a song. Fantastic jangly guitars, and bold chord progressions set the stage for a dynamite track. What sounds like a simple song on the surface is really a brilliant arrangement of complex layers interwoven so perfectly that it seems effortless. It’s a combination of brilliant talents and carefully crafted arranging. Perfect choice to open the album, a real attention grabber!
We then march off into a song with a mission in “What She’s Done to Him”. A warlike feel with the military rhythm and the horns, bring the feel of an army marching off to war, though the enemy apparently happens to be a female whose actions have obviously caused some sort of strife to the protagonist in the song. Musically, the arrangement is very effective in presenting this theme; even if one was listening purely to the instrumental, the message in the music is evident.
“Trying Hard To Please You” has a serious and dark feel to both music and lyrics, it has a bittersweet beauty to it. A very lush vocal arrangement, exquisite harmonies, the delicate nature of the acoustic guitar with a cutting electric lead guitar chiming throughout, and a powerful yet subtly placed piano (with an interesting old-time tone to it), in the musical arrangement all contributes to a beautiful blend of vocal harmonies and flourishing instrumental backing carrying a very pretty melody.
A very lovely cover of Brian Wilson‘s “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long”, has a dreamy quality to it, with a most intriguing and beautiful instrumental arrangement. The vocals are lush and harmonies are spectacular. I’m generally not fond of covers, but Nelson’s care and attention to detail and stellar performance make this a stand-out track on the album.
“Steel Derrick 1979” presents a lovely reminiscence of a happy time. The instrumentation takes you back in time in its arrangement and use of styles and instrumentation that was indicative of the late 1970’s which brings a lovely touch of authenticity to music. Guest artist Evie Sands’s water vocals combined with the ripple effects on the guitars brings images of sparkling water and rippling waves to the imagination, which all contributes to the overall imagery of this song, a very nice touch indeed. Attention to details like this to make the visuals behind the song match up with the overall musical vibe is a rare skill to master, and Nelson’s got it nailed!
“Let The Cruel World Go” features some very lovely piano work, and has a progressive feel to it. Overall it’s a very pretty song, with some surprising melodic tangents which almost feel like tumultuous thoughts that encompass the overall theme; a beautiful composition. Love the chord progressions in this one. It has an optimistic feel to it while at the same time there is a dramatic reminder of pain felt through the vibe in the melody and rhythm patterns.
“She Used To Love Me” is a catchy, fun little song, and makes great use of the contrast of happy sounding music alongside a dark, bittersweet theme. It’s a song about the hurt of a breakup and the resulting vengeful feelings that we probably all can identify with. This song effectively tells a story, and pretty much says it all (even things that usually remain unsaid), when one wears their heart on their sleeve. Instrumentally the lush, full arrangements combined with gorgeous acoustic 12-string and dobro enhance this beautifully. Love the castanets!
Guitars aplenty present luscious jangle carried with pretty acoustic rhythm in “I’m In No Mood”. A very pretty melody, with soaring vocal harmonies and groovy chord progressions, present a wonderful folk-rock vibe in this one. Lyrically the theme comes from the standpoint of having run out of patience and having to let go with some last parting words of explanation from a caring perspective. The phrase “We always get exactly what we want” in the lyrics reveals the concept behind the album title.
“Welcome to Nowhereville” has a pretty melody carried along on a rhythm what brings to imagination a road journey (a perfect song for a road-trip!). Alongside lovely chord progressions and luscious layers of guitars, a subtle whirly organ provides the smooth chords to contribute to the propelling the tune forward towards an unknown destination; but then that’s part of the mystique of the song. Another brilliant example of how the music fits the imagery behind the theme and these three components in harmony present the perfect listening experience.
We stop to pause and reflect in “Tyme and Tyde Agree”, a very pretty song featuring a beautiful two-part harmony with Anny Celsi, nestled in a lush and all encompassing layers of warm Americana instrumentals that seem to radiate a warmth that, if I had to summarize in one word, it would be comfort. If that makes any sense, one could use the metaphor of comfort-food for the musical soul, this song would be a perfect example.
Last but not least, “Everything I Want to Be”, has almost a renaissance feel to it, with some very pretty instrumentation featuring harpsichord, cello and recorders creating a delightful feel to lovely legato picking acoustic guitar. The melody is beguiling and meanders like an old brook making its way through an enchanted forest.. the term “tuneweaving” comes to mind as the arrangement is like a lovely woven musical tapestry. The theme is a bit whimsical, a bit inquisitive, but overall delightful. A great way to end a beautiful album.
I highly recommend this album for anyone who appreciates finely crafted songs, beautiful melodies, lush harmonies, and top-notch instrumentation and arranging. This album should hands-down, secure a place in the top album lists of 2012. Well-done, Nelson!!
May 15, 2012 “On the fence about this music? This is a deal breaker!” 5.0 out of 5 stars
By Gregory Boone (North Canton, Ohio)
Nelson Bragg has spent the last several years recording and touring extensively as percussionist and vocalist for Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s stunning backing band. The lessons learned from Wilson’s tutelage have served him well on his latest solo outing “We Get What We Want”.The genius behind the Beach Boys took many of his own lessons from his love of Phil Spector’s production work in the early 60’s. Mr. Bragg was obviously listening too. He creates a Spector-like Wall Of Sound throughout this gorgeous pop masterpiece. At times there are five different guitar parts in one song, not to mention banjo, piano, Hammond organ, mellotrons, vibes, gockenspiels, string sections and exotics such as recorders, drones, and stylophones. And I’d be remiss in not namedropping the one-man horn section Probyn Gregory!But despite all of the ringing guitars and swirling sounds that accompany, it’s the gorgeous vocals that truly stand out on this record, almost all of which are done by Bragg himself. While he doesn’t possess the vocal range of his mentor in his heydey, Bragg knows how to layer and craft harmonies that simply soar!As soon as you drop the proverbial needle on this disc you’re met with a wash of acapella vocals that introduce the opening track “You Could Believe”, an uptempo rocker driven by what’s described as Mike Simmons “Bitchin'” Les Paul Goldtop guitar work.On one of only two cuts not at least co-written by Nelson, he covers an obscure Beach Boys track “Baby Let Your Hair Grow Long” and then treats it to a Sgt. Pepper like reworking complete with Mellotrons and a trumpet break that brings Penny Lane to mind.He does share vocal duties on two tracks. 60’s legend Evie Sands contributes “Water Vocals” to the track “Steel Derrick 1979″, obviously a song that reminisces about a favorite memory from Bragg’s childhood in Massachusetts.He’s also accompanied by co-writer Anny Celsi (whose 2010 record “Tangle-Free World” Bragg produced) on the pastoral gem “Tyme and Tyde Agree”. This stand-out cut features haunting pedal and lap steel guitar work. The shared lead vocals bring to mind the work of Ian Matthews and Sandy Denny on early Fairport Convention records from the mid-60’s.With “Everything I Want To Be” he closes the record and continues the pastoral mood of the previous song, utilizing recorders to accompany the acoustic guitars and harpsichord that shape the tune. But once again the real star is the short but oh so sweet wordless vocal break that closes out the song and the album.Bragg’s obvious love of melodic pop music shines throughout this gem of a record and his ability to craft vocals that wrap around you like a big dreamy blanket will make you want to return again and again to it’s amazing warmth!
May 8, 2012 “We Get What We Want”
By Ray Gianchetti, Kool Kat Musik (www.KoolKatMusik.com)
Nelson’s sophomore solo release is an absolute stunner that’s destined to be a 2012 year end top ten (or maybe even top 5) rated release. Heavily steeped in all that’s great about 60’s pop music, the record wears its pure pop and harmony-filled influences proudly on its sleeve and could very well serve as a primer for a ‘Pop 101′ songwriting course!
May 6, 2012 “We Get What We Want” 5.0 out of 5 stars
By Dan King, The Bandit Kings (www.BanditKings.com)
First, after just two quick listens cruising in the van by the shoreline, highly recommended, I was really amazed at the A-list production of Nelson Bragg’s latest release for an indie project. Incredibly impressive in that regard alone which would be reason a plenty to check this record out compared to todays saturated market of demos and home kit recordings that have no regard for the audiophile. The real bonus is the songs are consistent, well-written, and masterfully produced while avoiding tech trends and the many other pitfalls that can distract from a fully formed Album release. This is not a collection of singles in my opinion, staying true to the 60s and 70s era folk pop and psychadelia genre by creating an integrated collection that truly has something to say. Bravo.
May 5, 2012 “We Get What We Want”
By Jeremy Morris, JAM Records (Portage, MI) (www.JamRecordings.com)
WHOA!!! TIME TO WAKE UP! I PROCLAIM NELSON BRAGG’S NEW CD TO BE THE BEST PURE POP ALBUM OF 2012!!! Nelson Bragg is known by many as Brian Wilson’s drummer, but he is so much more than that! It’s more than obvious when listening to “We get what we want” that the brilliance of “pop master” Mr. Wilson has rubbed off significantly. Here we have 11 perfect pop songs that signal the top pop moments of The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Left Banke, The Turtles, Todd Rundgren, The Association, The Millennium, America, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Moody Blues, and so many more. The foundational ingredient here is that Nelson writes great memorable classic songs evoking the best sonic seasons from the 60’s and 70’s. However, Nelson’s real secret weapon is his harmony laden wall of vocals which is simply amazing. The sonic harmony blend reaches a level of purity that very few ever achieve. The arrangements are simply beautiful and concise! THIS IS GRADE A MUSIC and to my ears, NELSON should be a household name. The brilliance is in the grooves! Do not miss out on this one! GRADE A
May 5, 2012 “We Get What We Want” 5.0 out of 5 stars
By John E. (London, England)
Oh my God…this is phenomenal! I’ve just played Nelson Bragg’s new album for the first time and I’m totally blown away by it. “You Get What You Want” captures everything that is best about power-pop, Beatles (think “And Your Bird Can Sing”), the Byrds “Notorious Byrds Brothers” , C,S,N,& Y, and every piece of great West Coast music that you’ve ever heard! In fact, I haven’t heard a better album of its ilk since the 1960s. It’s full of gorgeous melodies, harmonies, jangly guitar, piano, and trumpet (from Probyn Gregory – also of the Brian Wilson Band) plus all sorts of inventive musicianship. I’ve been carried along from start to finish by the sheer momentum of it. There’s not one weak track, and it includes a version of Brian Wilson’s “Baby Let Your Hair Grown Long” that (dare I say it) is even better than Brian’s own version. Three of the greatest tracks come towards the end…namely “I’m In No Mood” (a potentional single?), “Welcome to Nowhereville” and “Time and Tyde Agree”. I was literally crying tears of joy by the time I got to these. This is more than a worthy successor to the excellent “Tangle Free World” album that Nelson produced for Anny Celsi, and it’s light years ahead of his own first album (which contained two classics in “Forever Days” and “Death of Caroline”). Do yourself a favour – order this album NOW
May 4, 2012 “We Get What We Want”
By Jeff Shelton, “Mr. Power Pop” The Indie Page (Redwood City, California)
Nelson Bragg is an LA-based musician most famously noted for being in Brian Wilson’s touring and recording ensemble, but also as a prominent songwriter, producer and solo artist in his own right. This, his 2nd full length release, catapults his pop music acumen to new heights – with shimmering guitar pop that mines the intricate melodies of the Beach Boys and Big Star and the modern indie pop smarts of bands like the Wondermints and Matthew Sweet. Bragg’s sweet, melodic tenor glides effortlessly over a musical backdrop of warm, strummy guitars, piled on vocal harmonies, and silky smooth production. The perfect accompaniment to a California summer!
on nelson bragg
day into night
January 9th, 2007 – Andy Hostetter , Entertainment Editor – University Of Indiana at Southbend
The Brilliant Folk Pop of Nelson Bragg I love pop with a capitol P,” said California veteran musician turned solo artist Nelson Bragg. Over the past 20 years Bragg has played with California’s best pop musicians including: Brian Wilson, The Now People, Stew, The Mockers, Cloud 11, and many others.His first solo album, Day Into Night, is an album full of pop’s brightest moments. The sound of the album is an influx of such artists as CSNY, Brian Wilson, The dB’s, and George Harrison with gleaming truthful lyrics.Bragg’s day job consists of playing percussion with the Brian Wilson Band. “Brian Wilson Band is my day job, bread and butter gig so I’d say the Brian Wilson Band requires the most dedication,” Bragg said. He can be heard on Wilson’s masterpiece SMiLE.As the title suggests, the album moves from one half of “day” songs to the second half of “night” songs. The tracks slowly get darker and darker, and when you’re conscious of the album’s day to night concept you can almost feel the sun go down. “It does tend to get darker as the record progresses,” said Bragg. “The cover expresses “dualism”, the feeling we all have from time to time that we ALL are two people: ourselves alone with our secrets, and who we are in the world outside, two distinct personalities.”For Bragg, the “pop curse,” as he calls it, can falter an album’s originality. “Most pop records tend to wear their influences on their sleeve,” said Bragg. What makes Bragg’s album so great is it doesn’t try to hide from its influences. “When you do hear a direct influence, it was me saying ‘here we go, I don’t care what people think.'”Day Into Night opens with a pop masterpiece “Forever Days,” a song about the heartache of love whose chorus soars with a CSNY type harmony. “Return the Love You Take,” is a ballad about love gone badly and the lessons learned. It’s a wonderful folksy type of song, and Bragg’s voice sounds beautiful on it.His cover of George Harrison’s “Dark Sweet Lady” is a perfect choice; it fits in perfectly with the albums sound. “‘Dark Sweet Lady’ is this amazing chestnut of a song,” said Bragg. “It’s about Olivia (Harrison’s ex-wife) and it was written in Hawaii. One strange thing about it’s meaning to me is that almost every girlfriend and my ex-wife included, like Olivia, had dark hair, dark eyes, almost olive skin.”The closing track “Turn the Darkness into Gold,” ends Day Into Night calmly and serenely. It consists solely of an acoustic guitar, some soft strings, and Bragg’s soothing voice. The track is the story of Bragg’s best friend marrying and the friendship suffering. “It’s about growing up and realizing the pain of relationships changing,” said Bragg.The final line of the song goes, “Remember we’re no longer 17.” The album ends, or better the day ends, and Bragg’s truthful lyrics leave you with enough relationship heartache you’ll think twice before asking for a phone number again.To get a copy of Bragg’s CD you can order it from www.sidebmusic.com, cdbaby.com, or you can get a signed copy by ordering it directly from Bragg’s myspace page. Key Tracks: “Forever Days” “Death of Caroline” “Return The Love You Take”
PENNYBLACK MUSIC - UNITED KINGDOM
Interview with Nelson Bragg (April 2012)
By Andrew Cassidy
ear candy magazine
Interview with Nelson Bragg (June 2005)
By Kerry Chicoine