*** 2004 I.M.A. ***
Album of the Year
**** Finalist ****
Reviews of Underhill Downs
"Brandon Patton may not have the marketing... and may not be world-famous (yet) ... but that doesn't change the fact that he's one of the best indie-artists out there right now. [Rockets] has a wonderfully funny bridge that involves Patton discussing the lyrics to the chorus... and as an added bonus for all the geeks, Mr. Patton's alter-ego 'Blak Lotus' is MC Frontalot's bassist."
- Trey Zuspan,
October 8, 2009 - Brandon Patton spends the bulk of his time playing bass for nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot, but he also writes his own emotional indie rock on the side. A Minnesota native who now calls Staten Island home, Patton wrote his new album Underhill Downs about his time spent living on Underhill Avenue in Brooklyn. After splitting with a girlfriend of eight and a half years, Patton says he spent much of that period walking around in a jilted haze. The songs on Underhill Downs mostly concern the breakup and his subsequent attempts to date again. The album's weary tone, overdub-heavy production and experimental song structures effectively reflect Patton's emotional headspace at the time. But one of its simplest and most compelling tracks, "Ashes and Stains," paints a vivid picture through more traditional songwriting tools. Its slow-yet-insistent buildup, deceptively jubilant-sounding chorus, key change and soft fade out make for an accessible, immediate tune. Lyrically, of course, it focuses on love lost, with a bit of self-pity thrown in: "I'm walking in the park through the moonlit trees / Thinking of you closing the bar down," Patton sings, adding, "Cut me some slack / I'm still getting my nerve back." By capturing his own self-doubt, Patton crafts a narrative that's as relatable as it is raw."
-Ben Westhoff for NPR
Top 25 New Music Reviews of 2009.
"Memorable songs, skillful performances and expert production. Patton impresses us with his ability to inject subtly artful sonics into conventional song formats. On 'Caught Off Guard' Patton's voice recalls that of Peter Gabriel; the song is skillfully mastered for optimum separation between the singer and his deft arrangement, which includes metallic percussion, trumpet and synth strings. 'Rockets' plays with atonal textures that somehow gel with the catchy hook. Brandon Patton's work is consistently compelling."
- Music Connection Magazine
"Interesting youthful layered indie-pop in eleven different DIY flavors ranging from harmonious orchestral stuff to compressed manic pop, to hypnotized hip-hop balladry. Obviously overabundantly gifted with pop songcrafting gifts and a good natured soulful likability as well. A young Todd Rundgren, Badfinger, John Vanderslice, Elliott Smith, and Sage Francis all come to mind, though Patton actually sounds quite original and fresh."
- George Parsons
Dream Magazine #10
A member in nerd rapper MC Frontalot’s touring band, Brandon Patton is also an accomplished indie songwriter and solo artist living on Staten Island. Latest release 'Underhill Downs,' a professional-grade album in terms of production and performance, is a reflection of Patton’s apparently eclectic tastes, from Elliott Smith’s intimate melancholy to bits of Morphine and Beck’s sax-rock, and even Ben Harper’s funk-tinged pop. It’s impressive and fun, but it’s hard to understand the moody rock of 'Point of No Return' and 'Coelacanth' — which sounds like some of the more thoughtful Foo Fighters stuff — alongside bizarre and maybe overambitious trip-hop-ish cut 'Vampire With A Briefcase' or syncopation meditation 'Stilts.' In fact, the difficulty of pigeon-holing Patton’s style may be 'Underhill Downs’' greatest asset and conundrum at once. The one common thread is Patton’s vivid vocal, which deals with the body from the micro ('blood bubbles will blow your mind') to the macro ('she’d make a judgment/another greedy politician'). But while 'Underhill Downs' has lots of great moments, they don’t always fit together in recorded form."
"[The tracks on] Brandon Patton's latest indie rock album "Underhill Downs" vary between styles, ranging creatively from classical tempos to rock, hip-hop and techno. While his voice maintains a soothing, melodic sound, his music keeps changing... The album opens with a soothing guitar chord against Patton's soft voice in the background singing an almost lullaby-like "Lower Your Bar." But the music picks up with a techno-rock solo in the second song "Rockets," with playful lyrics and funky acoustics that combine undertones of rock and blues. "Caught Off Guard" returns the listener to a slow, instrumental beat and a soothing voice singing about a sad lovers' confrontation. But again, Patton brings back the rock in "Point of No Return" against singing moans and lyrics calling out to a lover, "we're running out of time to make up our minds, you were the one I felt safe with." Patton's slow rock continues throughout "Coelacanth" with sad but melodious lyrics... "Look Up" is a slow techno tempo behind Patton's soft voice singing about longing for a girl. The lyrics are quite beautiful... but paranoia slowly comes through: "worry, sleep, worry more ... worry, sleep, worry more." "Ashes and Stains" and "Stilts" both mix slow rock with techno, while Patton's voice seems to faintly hum along in the background, and the last song, "I Am The Oscillator," puts an eerie cap on the album with "trippy" techno and a drowning voice. The album is good for a long drive or a slow, relaxing evening. Because it starts off lively and ends calmly, be prepared to wind down with this disc's hypnotic sounds and lullaby voices."
Daily Hampshire Gazette, Aug. 20 2009
"Though his debut Should Confusion was released near the beginning of the decade, Staten Island, N.Y., singer/songwriter Brandon Patton didn’t put out his second album, Underhill Downs, until now, owing to his steady gig as bassist for nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot. Patton’s music doesn’t have hip-hop beats or sci-fi references. Rather, Underhill Downs is heavy on acoustic guitar and computer-effect driven atmosphere. The album is full of smoothly produced, heavily overdubbed tracks that vary between lovely, sad and slow (”Look Up” features a chant of “worry, sleep, worry more”) and lovely, sad and slightly less slow (on “Ashes and Stains” the narrator wonders, “When will my life start to imitate art?”). Though inspired by the unraveling of a long-term relationship, the album doesn’t trade in self-pity, and Patton often seems to be attempting to dig himself out of an emotional hole with these songs. No telling if it worked, but as art the album succeeds. (Merlin Pool Music) 4 stars out of 5."
Crib Notes, Creative Loafing Atlanta
The Listening Stack
SHOULD CONFUSION REVIEWS
The singer/songwriter is a facet of the music industry that has tempted
many musicians to leave their bands and pursue their own visions. However,
there are few people that actually can pull this off. To be able to strip
a song down to just guitar and vocals is one of the hardest accomplishments
in all of music.
Enter Brandon Patton, a former member of a Boston based band that would call it quits in 2000, leaving Patton to go about music on his own terms. He would leave Boston for San Francisco , and eventually in 2004 he would wind up in New York City , and release the record “Should Confusion.” The record would create a buzz for Patton even landing him on a soundtrack for MTV’s The Real World.
His influences are listed as Elliott Smith, Aimee Mann, Eels, Wilco, and Badly Drawn Boy. And as influences for a singer/songwriter goes you don’t get much better than that.
Patton’s track “3100 Miles” has most of what a good acoustic pop song should. The vocal style is flowing, with a great production behind the voice. They sound very similar to Britt Daniel from the band Spoon, with a unique raspy quality.
The slower numbers such as “Counting the Paces” exemplifies a little more depth in Patton’s songwriting… fitting well with indie-radio, sounding very much in the vein of Nada Surf. There is also interesting guitar textures and great synth sounds that bring out a sound similar to Granddaddy, adding quite a cool undertone.
Aug. 23, 2005
...this is perhaps one of the best indie rock records I’ve heard
this year... Brandon Patton’s clever and gorgeous acoustic guitar-driven
[album] Should Confusion (his fourth CD release) reaches in and grabs you
by the cockles of your heart right from the get-go with its captivating
‘Counting The Paces’ (the first song) is a drunken, romantic, melodic spill from the mouth of a downtrodden man on the brink of it all, laid to a very Beatles atmosphere with shades of (dare I say it) Leo Sawyer. From the first strum of the guitar chords, you’re roped in.
‘What’s The Worst That Could Happen?’ kicks it up a notch, suddenly exploding with crystal clarity - a veritable challenge to get off your ass and give it a go (whatever the hell “it” might be).
Patton’s lyrical abilities are also noteworthy. Personable, witty, and immediately relatable, he sings of the small observations he makes around him. But he’s a looker, not a stalker.
Refreshingly original yet comfortably familiar, Should Confusion is definitely a worthwhile listen for anyone who fancies well-scripted, melodic acoustic-guitar rock. It is but a question of time before Brandon Patton is a household name.
- Liam Lahey
FEB 28, 2004
"This collection of songs is an absolute must for fans of well written
acoustic guitar based songs..."
Quirky. Enigmatic. Skillful. Clever. Very Clever. These are the words I would gladly throw you about Brandon Patton. I put this cd in, not expecting much, but liking the artwork. I was hooked from the first note of guitar and the first breathless "Help… Me…" From the sounds of it, Mr. Patton has been at this game for a long time, making music on his guitar and playing it for people who enjoy those witty little songs based on miniscule observations of the world around us. Not always a big fan of that when it is unskillfully done, I will most readily accept being referred to now as a fan of Brandon Patton's music.
The songs on Should Confusion cover quite a bit of ground. There is the heartbreakingly lonely lilting of "Counting The Paces" to begin the album in an almost metaphysical state of euphoria. Then the music rushes straight into a pulsing rhythm on "What's the Worst That Could Happen". This song makes the whole album worth the time, fusing its very Foo Fighters' screaming chorus and wonderfully produced guitars with the energy of Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Amazing! "Mo Song" follows this up in a very abstract pop-sensible Finn Brothers' (That's Neil and Tim) fashion; think complex vocal harmonies and captivating musical arrangements.
I could go on, telling you bits and pieces of each song and how they make me feel, or what they remind me of… And my girlfriend would tell you that the lyrics remind her very much of Dynamite Hack, although the music does not. I can't say on that. But what I can say is that this collection of songs is an absolute must for fans of well written acoustic guitar based songs… I can't say Paul Simon with any basis of absolution, but I would say that Brandon Patton tells greatly involved stories like that well-known mighty mite of the songwriting world.
Don't forget to check out Brandon's website at www.brandonpatton.com for news on his current activities. Hopefully he'll be visiting your town and mine soon.
-Embo Blake, Hybrid Magazine
Turk's Head review
FEB 7, 2004
This is a very nice batch of indie pop, based on acoustic rhythm guitar, with a strong Elliott Smith meets Wilco sensibility. Sounds positively great. Strong songs, pleasant vocals, lyrically assured, and catchy too. You could do a lot worse.
(Turk's Head edited by J. Esch)
"I guess what gets me angry at the music industry is that they tend to miss the gems of the world like this little album."
Ever close your eyes while listening to a song and images just pop in your head. When I do that to the album opener “Counting the Paces” I envision walking down a crowded street where everyone moves aside and allows you to walk through two walls of human bodies at a slow pace and with a huge weight on your shoulders. Not only is this album a powerful imaginative creation but it’s inspiring and chock full of emotions ranging from the highest echelons of happiness to the lowest deeps of depression. I guess what gets me angry at the music industry is that they tend to miss the gems of the world like this little album. Then again a million-dollar promotion budget and a big name producer might steal away some of the genuine sincerity from Brandon’s take on the world and its people. Well regardless I say shun them and pick this album up now!
FEB 3, 2004
"...tunes that just get better with repeated spins."
An excellent independent release. Brandon Patton may be an unknown...but many of his tunes rival those of the biggies. His ability to turn a tune and...even more importantly his voice...are extraordinarily impressive. More than any other artist, Patton's approach and material remind us of Evan Dando. His songs are, for the most part, soft pop based around an acoustic guitar...and his vocals are wonderfully breathy and sincere. Rather than sounding like all those interchangeable indie/lo-fi artists...Brandon chooses to write classic pop that is fully produced and slick. Should Confusion is chock full of mature tunes that just get better with repeated spins. The only clunker here is "Auspicious Moment" but...considering that it is the only bad track, eight outa nine ain't bad (!). Particular standout cuts include "Counting the Paces," "Did That All Before" (very Nilsson-esque), and "The Good Life." (Rating: 4+++)
FEB 9, 2004
"Brandon Patton is remarkably creative, sardonically funny, and very much in love with music."
This is what strums my strings. Free-spirited, go-with-the-flow, reckless highs and dreamy lows songwriting. Unpredictable melodies carrying teenage moodswing memories, brought to us by an unpretentious poet with an occasionally mischievous potty-mouth who has a knack for infusing minor chords here and there, suddenly turning the vibe magically ethereal.
And it’s only eight-thirty in the morning. My day is open to a million possibilities right now.
In case you can’t tell, I love this CD. I love this artist. Brandon Patton is remarkably creative, sardonically funny, and very much in love with music. The very first track, “Counting the Paces,” is a lullaby tempo with anguished lyrics of loneliness and stagnation. Through its delicate and hypnotic delivery, he makes it sound beautiful. The imagery doesn’t hurt either. “I feel like I’m covered in sand,” he breathes.
I get the idea Patton is young. Most of his songs focus on teenagers and their stumbling search for who they are. “Mo Song” is a standout, with its staccato folk storytelling about a crush on a sensitive soul. My favorite moment in this song is a brief excursion from reality as he chats with a Redwood tree, which may not have anything to do with having a crush on someone, but that’s the kind of ride you’re in for. Tangential paths. Just flow with him.
One of the most visual tracks is “Thirty-one Hundred Miles,” with intriguing percussion that sounds like the clacking of the train he’s singing about. (Hats off to Scott Kessel and his “drumship enterprise” for much of the outstanding percussion on this CD.) The shuffling delivery on this track and distorted and scratchy recordings floating in and out make this one song I would love to see made into a video.
My absolute favorite track, the one that seems to sum up everything Patton is about, is the totally spontaneous “Auspicious Moment.” Patton and his friend Anand pulled a page from one of Patton’s old journals and just started rapping the words over a chaotic drum jam. Caught daydreaming about (what else?) sex during history class, the bored teen mimics his teacher’s reprimand: “No, I don’t know the answer, and no, I have no retention.” The two crack self-depreciating jokes at their own writing, dissolve into laughter in a few places, and had me laughing out loud right along with them. Patton makes the perfect comment about this song in the liner notes: “Remember when joy was this easy?”
I remembered it a little just listening to this CD. Forget your coffee – just listen to this CD first thing in the morning and then go outside and play.
By Jennifer Layton
Daily Vault review
"Following the twists and turns of these songs, you realize this particular kid really does have it; he knows how to tell a story in such a way that you have no idea what's coming next, but aren't for a moment tempted to leave before the show's over."
Review by: Jason Warburg
Originally published: February 20, 2004
I have a 24-year-old nephew whom I love dearly in spite of his being, well, 24.
See, the kid is bright, adventurous, rootless and unreliable, easily distracted by the opposite sex and seemingly bent on stretching his adolescence out as long as possible. I'll spare you the details; suffice it to say, two years out of college, he doesn't have a penny to his name and continues to live almost completely in the ephemeral present, relying on instincts, charm, and a native intelligence that has allowed him to get away with more than most. (Hmm... does that sound more critical... or jealous?)
Anyway... Brandon Patton, for whatever reason your album Should Confusion makes me think of my nephew, and not just because he likes his music as eccentric and independent as possible. (Hell, he probably downloaded your first rough mix off the Internet years ago…)
Maybe it's because, despite a rocky moment or two, this disc full of hormonally-influenced odes to ADD ultimately won me over. The opening, somewhat mournful "Counting The Paces" had me thinking maybe I'd stumbled on yet another young "I wanna be as sad as James Taylor but not as artful" navel-gazing acoustic troubadour. Ah, but then a couple of minutes into the following "What's The Worst That Could Happen?" the lyrics and music took a sharp manic turn, electric chords crashing in as Patton played out a high school romance melodrama with an unexpected jolt of bite and purpose behind it. In the moment Patton's self-assured vocals went from breathy Dave Matthews croon to full-throated Paul Westerberg cry, I knew I was on to something.
"Mo' Song" has a similar flavor in the sense that it's also an acoustic-based track that Patton adds a tasty electric crunch to. What it also adds is dashes of cock-eyed wisdom and blind-side humor that permeate the rest of the album like the spices in a pungent gumbo. Following the twists and turns of these songs, you realize this particular kid really does have it; he knows how to tell a story in such a way that you have no idea what's coming next, but aren't for a moment tempted to leave before the show's over.
Patton's sharp wit is especially evident on the playful "Did All That Before," whose verses are full of rapturous declarations of love that collapse under their own weight in the balloon-poking chorus. "Auspicious Moment" is another rib-tickler, one of those goofy messing-around-in-the-studio vignettes that shouldn't work, but does. Patton's deadpan, self-mocking, white-boy rap delivery is the perfect counterweight for the hormone-addled fervor of the lyrics ("I can't pay attention, in the spring / When the girls are out on the green / And the summer dresses cover my head when I try to think"), the drum track crashing around in the background with uncanny adolescent empathy.
Spunout Central review
"This is my new favorite CD."
Feb. 17 2004
Suffering through a nomadic existence of barely treading a music career, Brandon persists when others would have pleaded his/her parents for a cozy return. Patton outlasted a solo effort (1997) and his band (Three Against Four). Having such an extended career with modest results must force angry rhetorical questions, but love, confidence and good ol' fashioned sticktoitiveness charged Should Confusion.
“Counting the Paces” leads the CD with a lush bittersweet ballad strung with acoustics, soul-emptying harmonies and a tasteful use of the synth bass -- yes, reminiscent of Beck’s Sea Change except Brandon has natural sonance of Ed Roland (Collective Soul). Ecstatic, I could not envision a greater piece than “Counting the Paces”. But if you already viewed the track highlights and/or the grade, the critiquing direction should not be in question.
Guerilla bushwhacks cleverly attack. My first hair-raising moment occurred when the casually boppity “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” instantaneously erupted into a grunge-structured onslaught within in and out of its chorus. Crashing the middle of the recording are the exuberantly irreverent cuts, “Did That All Before” and “Auspicious Moment”. Both altered the perceived tone so much that it felt like I was manipulated by the previous songs.
During the second half, Should Confussion boomeranged; it cunningly (and quietly) ended with the falsetto-laden valentine, “Someday When Were Old”. Even more choice than Brandon's illusionary sonics and unorthodox structures are his transcendent lyrics. They share identifiable aspects of Bob Dylan’s adroitness and Steven Malkmus’ silly quirkiness to form the most memorable lines heard by any artist reviewed in Spunout Central’s Underground Archive section. In fact, this is my new favorite CD.
Click over to Brandon’s site and sample Should Confusion. Many overlooked and superb American artists strike once they focus on Europe -- do not let ignorance provoke Brandon Patton to be another.
Song Highlights: "What's the Worst That Could Happen?", "Mo Song", "Did That All Before" and "Someday When Were Old"
--Adam Mico, Spunout Central
JAN 30, 2004
Review: I'm sitting at work, and recalling a dream last night in which my boss confronts me and screams at me for working on my web site all day from his office. I reply: "Since you only pay me 70 percent of what I should be making and haven't given me a raise in three years, I feel entitled to only work 70 percent of the time I am here." Apropos of nothing, that little vignette, but while wage-slaving away, I am listening to Brandon Patton's CD Should Confusion (the title alone cracks me up) and, well, it's making me very very happy. As happy as Brandon's crisp, clear, happy guitar playing. The songs are sometimes melancholy, sometimes quite poppy, but all have a great slightly-awry folky feel; Brandon's got it down, and plays with the form, while the little narratives of each song just keep rolling on. (Okay, now we know why I've got other people doing record reviews). It's not easy to get me smiling on a Friday at work...THANKS BRANDON! P.S.: "Auspicious Moment" cracks me UP.
The Celebrity Café review
Brandon shouldn't be so depressed. He's a good guy and he plays good music. It seems that playing happy music in Cape Cod eventually got to his spirit and this CD is an expression of his new attitude. He expresses angst, confusion and frustration with the best of them, coming out with a damn good CD.
Reviewer's Rating: 7.5
the celebrity cafe
Aiding & Abetting review
Patton has that “breathy vocals floating above neo-folk” sound down, even though Patton’s conception of neo-folk is much more Beck than, say, Fairport Covention. And Patton isn’t against letting loose and rocking out every now and then.
I like those loud moments best. That’s when Patton sounds most at ease and where he also finds a space he can call his own. Which is not to say that the folkier stuff sucks; it doesn’t. In fact, it compares well to Nick Drake and his ilk. But it’s been done and I just keep hearing dead people.
The production is impressive, making this album sound a lot fuller than your average one-man effort. Yeah. Patton has some help, but he does most of the heavy work here. Not that you could tell from the sound.
Just a nice, comfy set of songs. Patton refuses to tie himself to any one sound or idea, and I like that.
--Aiding & Abetting, Feb 2004
Brandon is brilliant. He articulates emotion in words and music like no other boy with a guitar. There's a bit of everything on this album.
-- Musicophile, January 13 2004
reviewed by screenshavenoemotions
Brandon Patton’s latest release Should Confusion starts out as an extremely strong recording. The first track “Counting the Paces,” a very somber, melancholy song with vocal arrangements very similar to that of Simon & Garfunkel’s album Bridge Over Troubled Water, is a great mood setter. I was inspired to sit back, think and even write, while listening. The album's second track may be its most outstanding. “What’s the Worst that could Happen?” ranges from acoustic verses, reminiscent of Duncan Sheik, to full band, up-tempo choruses that bring to mind the music of Knapsack. These two songs open this album with a very full sound that encourages you to listen on.
From there, Should Confusion has a lot of ups and downs. The songs range from happy feeling tracks, with words being rattled off in a sort of “folk-rap” way, to 60’s folk songs with old show-tune bridges, some tracks could easily be found on the next Toy Story movie soundtrack and still others are purely beautiful with melodies that resonate in your heart.
The most defining attribute of Should Confusion is Brandon’s clear, warm guitar tone that really helps make the songs. There are songs that seem more heartfelt than others and those are the ones that make this album worth listening to. They are well written, well recorded and make for a great soundtrack to your day. He is a good guitar player and knows how to write a song, but seems to lose his focus at times. The weakest point of this recording is the track “Auspicious Moment” that seems to be a humorous spur-of-the-moment song that he and a friend recorded. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the album and stands out as a nuisance when you are trying to get into the flow of the recording. Hint: if you are trying to make a recording for people other than your friends, you probably shouldn’t include inside jokes. If you take away a few of the directionless songs, Should Confusion would make a really great E.P.
#1 – Counting the Paces
#2 – What’s the Worst that could Happen?
#9 – Someday When We’re Old
Genre: Pop/Folk Rock
Fantastic!! October 9, 2003
This is a fabulous album -- Patton's best so far. Beautiful lyrics, great use of acoustic guitar and myriad other instruments, great vocal range, just great stuff. It feels like everything else Patton has done has been in anticipation of, and leading up to, this point. His diverse range of musical interests and abilities are on on display here, and all working together. Really a great album; I highly recommend it!!
--anonymous reviewer: A music fan from Berkeley, CA, posted on amazon.com