Monday 12 November 2012

Chris Brokaw - Gambler's Ecstasy

Album review by KevW

Because of the shambolic nature of our filing system (a confusingly set out email account, a stack of CDs and my befuddled brain) there's every chance you will have read reviews of post-punk legend Chris Brokaw's latest album already, it's been available over a month. You may even own a copy. What you will have noticed is that, pretty much across the board, these articles have been full of praise, singling the album out as a near essential purchase. There's a possibility that this may be due to his reputation preceding him, having been a member of over 50 bands (we're taking his word for it, we haven't counted), many of them highly influential and revered. Despite ample time to get to grips with his latest offering, it's a challenge to see exactly what all the fuss is about.

Sure, he's earned his status as a luminary of the scene because of past work, but 'Gambler's Ecstasy', which is by no means a bad album, doesn't appear to contain material to warrant such acclaim. It's largely slowcore, distorted alt-rock that's reasonably decent to listen to, but being reasonably decent isn't enough to merit the high praise heaped upon it. 'Criminals' isn't a bad song, but you could name dozens of bands doing the same thing equally as good, if not better. The same goes for 'Danny Borracho', some perfectly pleasant chugging punk, and 'Into The Woods' is also not bad in a laid-back alt-rock kind of way, but it lacks any punch. Then we get 'The Appetites', a song that drags on for almost ten minutes of unremarkable guitars and muffled vocals. It's great if you want to pop off and make a cuppa/mow the lawn/nip down the supermarket.

This may all sound rather harsh but that's not really the intention, and given the rave reviews this album has been given it could simply be a case of me not 'getting' it. This isn't an awful record by any stretch of the imagination, it's just one that lacks any distinctive features, anything to grab your attention or draw you back for repeat listens (and believe me, I've tried many plays waiting for something to click). The five remaining songs are largely too anonymous to bother mentioning. I'm willing to assume that I'm missing the point somewhere along the line, as Chris Brokaw is a well respected and accomplished musician and 'Gambler's Ecstasy' has fared far better with other reviewers, but personally it's difficult to describe this album as anything apart from overwhelmingly average.

Chris Brokaw's website

Buy the album

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  1. Off the top of my head, here is a partial list of bands of which Chris Brokaw has been a member (and bands in whose records Brokaw has performed):

    Snares & Kites
    The New Year
    Empty House Cooperative
    Wrekmeister Harmonies
    Chris Brokaw & Geoff Farina
    Martha's Vineyard Ferries
    Hidden Tooth
    Chris Brokaw Rock Band
    Steve Wynn
    7 Or 8 Worm Hearts
    G.G. Allin
    The Catamites
    Thurston Moore
    Evan Dando
    Fan Modine
    Christina Rosenvinge
    Alan Licht
    Rhys Chatham
    Cobra Verde
    Manta Ray
    Willard Grant Conspiracy
    Via Tania
    Dave Derby And The Norfolk Downs
    Thalia Zedek
    Fifty Bucks
    Gramercy Arms
    Rosa Chance Well
    Zachary Cale
    Jennifer O'Connor

    1. An impressive list! We've reviewed his work with Geoff Farina in the past.

  2. Well, this is a pretty cool website, indeed!