Brendan Kelley could go National on strength of Quicksand CD
November 22, 2012
“Young Boston rocker Brendan Kelley kicks ass on his new Quicksand CD. Kelley’s raspy vocal, pounding rhythm section, and edgy guitar work make this a non-stop party. The crystal clear sonics are polished and let every note ring clean and pure. Kelley and each of his players don’t just play instruments. Each player layers these driving, high-powered tunes with his or her own special input. Players are Brendan Kelley on guitar, Dan Needham on drums, Shannon Sanders on keyboards, Jim Anton on bass, Andrew Ramsey on guitar and bass. Sanders and Ramsey are the production team who bring this sound to three dimensional life.
Kelley jumps right in with the pulse-pounding “Cold Blooded.” He belts this rocker out over a slamming rhythm section, driving lead guitar, and a swash of crackling keyboards. This one cries modern radio hit. The chorus is catchy as hell and the beat is one you wish would never stop. Kelley is certainly qualified to lead the party from his microphone. You can picture him swaggering around the stage, microphone in hand,
Title track “Quicksand” rocks out with slabs of low end notes, emphasis on the bass drum, and sudden, thrilling stabs of guitar and keyboards. Kelley projects his husky rasp over this like there’s no tomorrow. The drum pattern is infectious, tribal, celebratory, letting the listener know that the natives are restless and on a mission. The lead guitar is on fire during the break then springy slide guitar notes and keyboard tweaks ride out with a vintage guitar on someone’s front porch flavoring.
“You Made It Easy” builds its momentum like a power ballad. The rhythm section pushes it forward while the keyboards add a sweet spring in the step. Kelley croons much more smoothly here, turning his timbre into a honey flow drawl. This tune skips along like the singer doesn’t have a care in the world. You can picture someone taking his sweet time walking to work, taking in the scenery, enjoying the sunshine. The breezy melodies from guitar and keyboards coat this dandy with pleasant extras that will likely get it repeat plays.
Kelley and his band mates return to their hard-rocking form on “I Love You Not.” Kelley adds a gripe tone to his timbre as he belts out his reasons for moving on. He’s a tough guy who means business here. So much feisty sound builds out of the band’s take your time pace that it isn’t funny. A driving bass drum beat, slabs of low end, and hot, piercing guitar and keyboards are sharpened and honed into lethal weapons.
“Live My Dreams” dips into a pop rock attitude with its lilting rhythm section. The electric guitar chords are infections, irresistible. Kelley emotes a positive vibe with his less aggressive vocal approach. Yet, he has as much power in this gentler poppy tune. His rasp is in fine form and he still makes his presence felt among an incisive lead guitar phrase.
Things take an even mellower turn on “Pass Me By,” an acoustic guitar flavored, jazzy drum and bass driven pop ditty. Kelley takes a turn for the romantic yearning theme. His plaintive vocal is like a gentle tap on the shoulder. Unobtrusive, his voice pours forth, once again, in his sweet honey flow. The blending of acoustic and electronic instruments underneath creates an alluring pattern and a sense of impending drama. The emotional vulnerability here makes Kelley seem more human than his driving bombastic rockers. The more he pleads with his intended, the more anxious he comes across. Combined with the rhythmic pattern below, this song becomes as hypnotic as The Cars song “Drive.”
Kelley’s purring timbre makes him an appealing belter on “No Good.” He means business when he builds up the drama in this tense rocker. His driving rhythm section moves forward with the menacing potential of an 18 wheeler. There is just no stopping this guy when the bass drum is pounding.
Kelley closes out with a humanitarian plea for world peace. “Build A Bridge” skips along on a faux Ska beat, with quaint, lively guitar chords adding their upbeat sparks. Kelley’s smooth vocal timbre rides this one with an easeful purpose. He’s as positive and lively as Stevie Wonder was on the 1990s release “Conversation Peace.“
Kelley started off strong with his first CD. This sophomore effort could catapult him into the national arena. It would be nice to another local artist get really big.” – Bill Copeland