Barry Brusseau

Carrie Parker's car

I like this song, I like how it sounds like the music is running away at the end.

A review of the song The Promise.

THE VINYL ANACHRONIST BLOG

The first song on Barry Brusseau's new album, The Royal Violent Birds, is an unmitigated mess. "Pig Frost" starts off all grungy in a pop-ish way, embellished with a woefully distorted electric guitar, and the song barely gets through the first verse before it collapses in a feedback-saturated heap. It's a surprisingly brave and atypical choice since everything afterward is relatively serene, thoughtful and straightforward. Brusseau, a singer-songwriter based in Portland, is avuncular in both countenance and voice, and his deep and plaintive baritone seems so at odds with his contemporaries that it comes off as completely refreshing and honest. Once you get past the first minute or so of cacophony, you'll be treated to a feast of mature, slightly spacy and disarmingly gentle music.

NUT HOUSE PUNKS BLOG

The Royal Violent Birds is an album that hearkens back to the ’70s. There’s a lot of Richard Buckner and Leonard Cohen here, although less sonorous than Cohen. The songs lope along, moving at the pace of falling snow. Brusseau’s lyrics are sparse. At most, they’re a stanza of verse, which he repeats throughout the song, but interpreting it with a twist and a new take each time through. It’s as if he’s attempting to find the perfect way to deliver these focused collections of words.

Barry Brusseau’s The Royal Violent Birds is a stunning, gorgeous piece of work. It’s probably worth noting this is one of the few releases to come into the Nuthouse that both my wife and I enjoyed equally. It’s an affecting record, with the cello lines running through my head over and over whenever I find myself with a spare moment of silence. I have a feeling this might be the album of the season, perfectly suited to making it through the cold months ahead.

The Big Takeover

Just as New York and L.A. were the folk-pop epicenters of the 1960s, Portland, OR is today’s capital. Was it the day that Elliott Smith chose the homey, lefty, lovely Rose City for his base? Whatever, from The Decemberists (whose previous drummer Rachel Blumberg painted the sleeve of this cool custom-printed package, which includes art postcards for lyrics) to Dimes to Ascetic Junkies, the gentle passion keeps coming—so much so, that this 22-year punk (ex-The Jimmies)/metal vet has also succumbed to its persuasions. Unlike his Vancouver punk neighbor Joey Keithley’s solo folk, Brusseau forswears all past aggression, volume, and velocity for a maiden solo LP so quietly soulful, in its picked acoustic, barely-touched drums, and hummed voice—with equally spiritual cello, piano and trumpet at times—that he’s as full of moonlit peace as any friendly denizen walking E. Burnside St. Ummm. (Free download included.)

Big Rock Candy Mountain

"What Brusseau produced is nothing short of genuis. Really. No hyperbole involved. A shimmering hymn of midnight moon and morning dew."

Willamete Week

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[THE OL’ SLOW ’N’ SAD] Barry Brusseau is a man with many gifts: a clear, low-register voice that reminds of Smog’s Bill Callahan; dexterous hands that convey soul and patience in his guitar playing; a knack for minimal arrangements. Those gifts help craft songs like “Thrift Store Buzz” and “Fall to the Wayside” into rich, slightly melodramatic vignettes worthy of the Magnetic Fields or the Red House Painters.

Brusseau sounds like he’s been writing songs for a long time. And he has—except that his first solo record, A Night Goes Through, is quite a stylistic change-up from the material played by his last two bands, Portland hard-rock outfit the Legend of Dutch Savage and Longview, Wash., punk band the Jimmies.

It’s only because Brusseau’s aforementioned musical gifts are so pronounced that his lyricism fails him on occasion: The willfully sparse verbiage on “Coffee Table Song” only underscores that the rhymes themselves leave something to be desired, and the next tune, “The Promise” (which, with a cello mocking vocal harmonies, is one of the most musically striking numbers on A Night Goes Through), is emotionally affecting, but its words seem twisted awkwardly at times to fit the tune.

But more often than not, Brusseau’s words do the trick.

Whether he’s crooning sleepily about angels on “Stars All Over Their Wings” or getting meta on the verses of closer “A Night Goes Through,” Brusseau has clearly been saving lyrical material that fits well enough into gorgeous recordings (one can almost tell without looking that Adam Selzer and his Type Foundry Studio are responsible for most of the album). But if Brusseau refines his lyricism enough that the words stand up even without his fine accompaniment, he’ll be one hell of a singer-songwriter.