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Is It Real?
© 2005 Bret Logan

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The 2005 IndepenDisc of the Year!

The Bret Logan Band

Is It Real?

Total Time: 59:39
Cost: $9.98 + s/h*

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STYLE: Pick & Soar Rock

HOME TOWN:  New Haven, CT

: The Bret Logan Band

Visit The Bret Logan Band
 WEB SITE aka Jellyshirts

 1. China Rain
 2. Closer To Thee
 3. Place In The Sun
 4. Joy
 5. I Follow You
 6. It's All Right
 7. Do You Want To Dance
 8. Fat
 9. Ginge
10. Everybody Sees
11. Sister Carolina
12. Not My Place
13. Everything You Say or Do
14. To The Lake
15. Sea Hands
16. Sons With You

Check out the Jellyshirts New album:
"Sail On Sally" also:
Release on USB FlashDrive format.
And, the 1st Jellyshirts CD:
Rays To The Sun

Issue #78                               Sept. '05

The first few times I saw The Bret Logan Band I didn’t quite fully realize what was actually going on. Not easily accessible, I later learned, was the gift of this unique band.

In order to understand and appreciate the sound that flowed from this unit, it took a bit of a history lesson for me. Bret Logan founded the band Jellyshirts in the early 90’s, their 1st CD, Rays To The Sun, was released in 1995, the follow-up, 1998’s Outside, saw an extremely limited release before Jellyshirts were dismantled. Bret Logan then recruited others to form The Bret Logan Band. While there have been a couple of “novelty” BLB releases, Is It Real? marks their 1st “Official” release, which comes one year after the dissolution of The Bret Logan Band, and the reformation of Jellyshirts. Got all that?

Well, it was about a year after being introduced to The Bret Logan Band that I was turned onto Rays To The Sun by Jellyshirts a Byrds/Velvet Undergound mellow yet intense groove that grabbed and possessed me. After fully digesting this remarkable achievement, I found myself quite literally entranced by The Bret Logan Band. Several years later, while riding the resurrection of Jellyshirts, and preparing for the release of Is It Real? by The Bret Logan Band, Bret offered this bit of wisdom: “There's a vineyard, Jellyshirts and Bret Logan Band are two varieties of grape. Same general landscape, but different chemistry, different wines.” To that I’ll add, “similar in flavor, yet distinct in taste.”

Is It Real? will instantly be compared to The Smiths, especially with Bret Logan’s Morrissey-esque vocals. While I too quote the similarity, I for one was never a Smiths, nor Morrissey fan. The Smiths down-trodden pre-goth feel never did it for me, yet while the BLB tightrope walks the radius of that sound, it instantly uplifts me within the down-low vibe. Maybe that is the appeal, a soft, low flowing stream that builds into the intensity of river rapids racing to the sea, which upon spilling violently into the ocean, lay calmly while reflecting on the struggles of the journey.

Conveying this are 16 tracks of beautiful pick and soar rock infused with studio multi-tracking, looping, and Bret Logan’s vocals. Vocals that at times become an instrument unto themselves: light and airy, invoking inflection where needed, and transforming and transmitting an overall setting for each piece at the turn of a note. Using “La’s” and “Ah’s” as notes played up and down the scales to reach out, and even further, to reach in, to completely engulf our being within the sound and navigate us across the abyss that the rest of the band is so perfectly creating for the journey.

We go no further than the opener China Rain. Harmonic notes picked as lovely and as effectively as chords flow from Bret Logan and Jessica Brauner’s lead guitars. While Nick Appleby’s subdued drums usher in Wil Cunningham’s building, lingering bass, it is Appleby’s tape loop effects that give the added dimension to this song off lost love. Lost, due to the fact that the protagonist failed to reveal his true self to the now gone woman. All the while, the Bret Logan Band uses this platform to reveal their true selves to us. Then, on track 2, Closer To Thee, they take it up a notch. Dig the lowbrow, goth vibe done it such tight structure that you can’t help but be sucked into an eddy of torrential heartbreak. Overblown double tracked chords drench our emotions with a Psychedelic Furs style beautiful chaos. Using a hooked chorus of “La La La La La’s” that snap off the tongue and take us soaring along on a religious journey until we can’t help to feel exhilarated enough to think “Halleluiah.”

Is It Real? continues on with many more near religious musical moments, from the relentless double-tempo drum march and dual harmonic guitar chord strumming candor of Place In The Sun to the rain dreary Smashing Pumpkins lumbering giant sound that tip toes through the verses of I Follow You. BLB even cops some great riffs from others, most notably, the opening of It’s All Right finds BLB taking Tom Petty’s American Girl hook and making it their own while taking it over the top in a Velvet Underground/Jellyshirts romp. Do You Want To Dance features another Smashing Pumpkins sound, yet this time as if playing Yes’ Starship Trooper. In The Lake again evokes early Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers playing R.E.M. with an up-tempo Traffic feel that lays itself out in a very Dylan and The Band style jam.

One of the most defining elements of this album is Sea Hands, a song that sets sail over a wall of vocal f/x Ah’s that ride the guitar notes tumbling and spilling into our ears. Bret Logan’s vocals pour forth and wash over us as the musical level begins to rise – so too does Bret’s lead guitar notes, soaring through pedals that one can only guess exist – But of course, exist they do. Bret is known for altering his equipment to create and achieve the sound he wants for any particular piece, and he does so here, and not only with his guitar, but with his vocals as well. When all is said and done, it is the amazing beauty of Bret’s altered guitar images which are backlit by what pours forth by the rest of the band, in a magnificent testament equal to that of hauling a musical tidal wave across the vast reaches and coming to the other side with a tranquility that delivers us into a blithering pool of happiness.

While sidestepping many more songs that I just have way too much to comment about, I begin to wrap this up by saying, to overlook the religious significance of this disc would be foolish. While not directly preaching salvation through any organized effort Bret Logan uses the Band as a vehicle to spread the beauty of love through the passion and joy of music, and nothing says it better than Joy – Simply Joyous!! I love this song, saturated in sound, it delivers a feel that is nothing short of bliss. It travels into dark (yet uplifting) psychedelica and dances with a massive flute (or flutish sound) in pure Joy, while BLB is spreading even more Joy in a cacophony of delightful playing. You can tell each and every instrument is delivering a message of hope. How can you not smile at the Joy with which each of the musicians are playing? “Joy, I leave it up to you.”

That does it for me right there, there’s not much else I need from a disc of music. Joy.

But, I will close with Bret Logan’s own words, for they are an important part of this release:

“I expect that it will be a "slow to sink-in" listen for many. Basically, my focus musically has always been to speak to the sub-surface, meditative, "subconscious" parts of the mind -- and in that goal I don't let conscious-impact be a priority if it compromises the other communications (which I consider more universal). The down side: so much popular music today is aimed commercially toward conscious impact -- such that one could say a 10-year generation of ears has been weaned to expect that level to be served almost exclusively as the main dish.

I think it makes us sound weird to many ears. That's our rebellion, in some ways. Certainly our stand.”

Not easily accessible, is the gift of this unique band.

Is It Real? by The Bret Logan Band
is available now for $9.98 + s/h*

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*Shipping & Handling charges:
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                     Add $1.50 per each CD after.
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                          Add $2.00 per each CD after.
Everywhere else -$7.00 for the first CD ordered,
                                        Add $3.00 per each CD after.

The Livesays Go To Top The Lonesome Sparrows

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