Jake Brennan & The Confidence Men
Love & Bombs
Every few years, a record label trots out a new pretty boy, their latest hope to revive roots rock. The most recent of any significance was the utterly useless Pete Yorn, who has since been allowed to slip back through the cracks into obscurity where he belongs. 2005 will be the year Yep Roc offers up Jake Brennan as a replacement. Brennan would seem to fit the bill for this profile: former hardcore kid who’s ditched his up-and-coming band to go solo with rockabilly, proto-punk and country material, who’s affected Elvis Costello and his nasal baritone as his vocal muse. Truth be told, Brennan’s debut is more accomplished than it has any right to be. This is largely due to the learned hands helping guide the project through its three day recording session/party. Assembling a roster that includes Scott Janovitz, Eric Barlow and Jimmy Ryan among others, allows Brennan the latitude to pilot his songs much more confidently than if he’d enlisted alt. country neophytes.
Love & Bombs isn’t a revelation by any means, but it handles its mixture of driving rock and downtrodden country well enough to entice listeners of both genres to enjoy the album as a whole. The greatest intersection of rock and country happens to occur on Brennan’s shining songwriter moment “Believe Me.” Lead by a beautiful mandolin melody and acoustic strum, the song’s vocal hook is inescapable. I haven’t heard a song more worthy of radio airplay this year. In comparison, the rest of the album falls short, especially “In My Stepdad’s Truck,” a forced, overly sentimental ode to the hedonism of the good ol’ days.
The initial pressing of the release includes the bonus DVD Singer Songriot, a half-hour documentary detailing the album’s recording sessions. It’s only of cursory interest, considering Brennan’s limited career. Perhaps when/if he stages the roots rock revival it’ll gain relevance, but for now it seems a bit egotistical for a debut album.
Yep Roc: www.yeproc.com