BRIAN CULLMAN

Cullman2 cover web

Album: Winter Clothes
Label: Sunnyside
Vertrieb: Good To Go
VÖ: 18. September 2020
 

MUSICIANS:

Brian Cullman: Vocals, guitar/ ​Jimi Zhivago: Guitar, mandolin, organ, piano​/ Byron Isaacs: Bass, backing vocals, drums (3)/ ​Glenn Patscha: Piano, organ, backing vocals (10)/ Chris Bruce: Guitar, bass (1)/ ​Chris Heinz: Drums (1, 2, 7, 9)​/ Tony Leone: Percussion (1)​/ Syd Straw: backing vocals (1, 9)​/ Maryasque Fendley: backing vocals (1, 2, 4, 9)/​ John Ellis: Saxophone (6)

 

Rau und zart zugleich: ‚Winter Clothes‘ ist Brian Cullmans gelungenstes Album bisher. Eines, mit dem er nichts beweisen muss, sondern wo ganz einfach zwei hervorragende Musiker, die noch dazu gute Freunde sind, knisternde Pop-Rhythmen und die rauchige Schönheit der Songs zur Geltung bringen. 

 

Dies ist Cullmans erstes gemeinsam mit seinem langjährigen Freund Jimi Zhivago (Glen Hansard, Ollabelle) verwirklichte Albumprojekt. Viele der darauf versammelten Stücke sind in Schreibsessions entstanden, in denen die beiden gemeinsam die Ideen entwickelt und die Melodien und Rhythmen der Nummern ausgearbeitet haben. Zhivagos Hilfe war entscheidend, um den eklektischen Sound zu Cullmans Songtexten und Melodien entstehen zu lassen.

 

TRACKS:

Killing the Dead | Down Down Down | Wrong Birthday | As a Man Gets Older | Someday Miss You | New Year’s Eve | Sleep It Off | Coffee | Wrong Girl | Building

At once raucous and tender, Winter Clothes is Brian Cullman’s most fully realized album to date, one with nothing to prove, just the easy camaraderie of first-rate musicians playing in tandem, the snap crackle pop of the rhythm, and the smoky beauty of the songs.

 

This is Cullman’s first fully cooperative album with longtime friend and collaborator Jimi Zhivago (Glen Hansard, Ollabelle). Many of the songs were assembled during writing sessions where the two of them played ideas off one another, working through melodies and rhythms until the pieces were fully in sync. Zhivago was crucial in helping to shape eclectic sounds to Cullman’s lyrics & melodies.  

 

The album was recorded live at Forrest Sound in Long Island City with the core lineup of Cullman (acoustic & electric guitars, vocals); Zhivago (electric & acoustic guitars); Byron Isaacs (The Lumineers, Ollabelle) on bass, backing vocals and occasional drums; and Glenn Patscha (Ry Cooder, Ollabelle) on keyboards and backing vocals. Later sessions filled out the sound with Chris Bruce (Me’shell Ndegeocello, T Bone Burnett) on guitars; Chris Heinz (Martin Walker) on drums; Tony Leone (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Ollabelle) on percussion; and Syd Straw (The Golden Palominos, R.E.M.) and MaryAsque Fendley (Basque) on backing vocals. As always, Hector Castillo (Phillip Glass, David Bowie) was there to oversee the recording and to mix.

Since recording his last album, The Opposite of Time, Cullman has been back and forth to Lisbon, recording and performing as part of Rua Das Pretas, a loose and ever-shifting group of Brazilian, Portuguese and international musicians dragging fado & bossa into the future, as well as into the nearest tavern.  Cullman also composed music for the upcoming film The Bay of Silence, starring Brian Cox & Claes Bang, and continues to write regularly for The Paris Review. And all of these elements, the travel and the homecoming, the poetry of the streets and the thunder in the distance found their way into the songs and the sound.

 

“I’ve been lucky in having wonderful collaborators," says Cullman. “Years ago, I recorded with Mark Knopfler alongside Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and Chris White of The Zombies in London; with Robert Quine at Noise New York; with Vernon Reid and the lovely Sara Lee in my old band OK Savant. But this was probably my deepest recording experience. You usually just gather in a dark & lonely studio, mumble a few words, light a few candles and hope that the spirits will show up. This time they did.” 

 

“Wrong Birthday” is loose and sloppy in the best possible way, sounding like an early Stones out-take.

No more candles on your cake

Your shiny car has got no brakes

You’re at the wrong birthday

 

“Killing The Dead” explores the idea posited by Game of Thrones that the dead don’t stay dead. Zhivago plays a ringing Buddy Holly groove the way Pete Townshend might and MaryAsque swoops in at the coda with sugar hiccups that would make The Cocteau Twins proud.

Time passes slowly

When time’s at an end

The hands on the clock start to bend

 

“Someday Miss You” is a midnight blues about changing your ways, changing your life, an intimate conversation between Brian and Jimi’s guitars, with Byron’s acoustic bass anchoring the sound, standing in the doorway, checking ID’s. 

Take my hand like I’m a stranger

Lead me out of present danger

Take my hand like I’m a stranger

Cause if I fall one more time

You’ll know I’m gone

 

“Down Down Down” has a swampy groove straight out of early Little Feat or The Meters’ work with Lee Dorsey.

Heaven knows

These winter clothes

Are torn & caked with blood

And if I could

I surely would

Get out of them for good.

 

The breadth of sounds and the honesty of voice on Brian Cullman’s Winter Clothes makes for a bracing listen, one that will stay with you long after the music stops. 

 

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