Thursday, June 9, 2011

Album Review: "Brice Randall Bickford" by Brice Randall Bickford

Brice Randall Bickford by Brice Randall Bickford
will be released on June 14, 2011 by Trekky Records
Brice Randall Bickford is a name that you'll surely grow familiar with in the coming years if you're not already.  Bickford was the leading man behind The Strugglers and for his latest album he's dropped the name and created his best effort to date.  Brice Randall Bickford and his band have meshed together brilliantly for years and lived up to their name in terms of popularity, though the band continually put out excellent releases they seemed to gain no more notoriety or popularity anywhere outside of the Triangle.

This new self-titled record being released on his new label (local powerhouses of Trekky Records) opens up a realm of possibilities for Bickford and hopefully this gives the band a chance to drop the woes of their old name and start getting the recognition they truly deserve.  Bickford has crafted yet another brilliant album filled with lush orchestration and powerful lyricism.  The album release show will be held Saturday, June 11 at The Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC with a Carolina star-studded lineup featuring names like Phil Cook (of Megafun), Django Haskins (of The Old Ceremony), Lee Waters, and Heather McEntire (of Mount Moriah).  The album will be officially released in Trekky's own LP + CD + MP3 format on June 14.

Right from the start there's something about the album that grabs your attention, the phrasing, the instrumentation, the lyricism, it all fits together perfectly.  It's by no means a simple fit though, the layers throughout this album are deep and oftentimes inter-tangled, but they all mesh together excellently.  On the opening track, "Kindling", Bickford kicks off the album with a slow-paced almost brooding song that takes form as a coming-of age tale of lost youth with lyrics about "Extinguishing all of my grand assumptions/about the kind of man I should be, the kind of man I should be by now".  Bickford follows up this with an immediate change in direction on the next track, "Working Woman/Lazy Demons", a track that begins with an upbeat piano riff that immediately draws your attention and continues on with catchy melodies and once more excellent lyrics.

Bickford's songwriting is something special, he paints a vivid image of a time, place, or event that could stick out in any listener's mind and not only strikes a special place in your heart with it, but is able to make it melodic and memorable.  For example on "Into The Covers" he sings of a seemingly one-sided love, at least in the eyes of another.  Bickford slowly croons "Now nothing I say gives you consolation when your voice breaks down, there is no more painful sound/And I guess it's true, fuck all that I do can show you were what I thought about" in an eerie manner, eerie in the sense that something so personal can sound so damn catchy.  However, the album is unique in that sense of catchiness because of how quickly Bickford and company can transition from a soft and subtle tune to something immense and fleshed out.  Bickford has his own style of songwriting that's hard to compare to other musicians, whether it be in his phrasings or his instrumentation.  He's got a blend of Americana/Folk with elements of pop, classical, and indie rock all lumped into one all-encompassing sound.

The newfound pop sound is something that I can certainly get behind, this album features many more potential singalongs and will certainly be a joy to hear live.  The best part of it all is that he didn't have to sacrifice a bit of artistic integrity to do so, the trademark sounds are still there for old fans of The Strugglers but he's added a much more accessible nature to his work as well.  All in all this slow churner of an album is one that takes no time to get into, the pacing may seem slow at times but when the songs do build and reach their peak it's all worth the wait.  An aural adventure of an album, Brice Randall Bickford seems to have found a new niche to fall into that blends just enough of his poetic masterpiece with memorable tunes and beautiful orchestration.  With his most focused and memorable effort to date, Bickford will hopefully put an end to the struggle for recognition and pick up a bit of the fame he deserves.

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