Brandon Schott’s Verdugo Park EP: Talent, Heart, Soul and Pigeons

brandon-verdugo-park-coverBrandon Schott | Verdugo Park EP | Golden State Music | 2014

A Review by Alan Haber

(Win an autographed copy by filling out the form below)

On this taster for his upcoming album, provisionally titled Crayons and Angels, Brandon Schott again refines and expands on themes he has explored on previous releases, most notably last December’s glorious A/B EP, a split seven-incher anchored by two of his songs (including the wonderful “Henry,” which will appear on the album) and two from his friend and musical compatriot, Andy Reed, who mixed two of the songs here and mastered the EP.

One of the songs on the A/B EP was entitled “Verdugo Park (Part Two).” A beautiful mix of baroque and chamber balladry, sweet psychedelia, and melodic pop conventions, the song introduced its various elements carefully and built to a lovely crescendo with swirling backing vocals, filling the sound stage with warmth and begging the question, “Is there a ‘Verdugo Park (Part One)'”?

Verdugo Park on CD (Gnome not included)

Verdugo Park on CD (Gnome not included)

The song “Verdugo Park,” now a reality and the first of three songs here, begins innocently enough with the sound of children playing and living life that collides with a quick cacophony cut off in short order by a lively keyboard and the opening lines, “Verdugo Park is in our backyard, under a clear blue day.” While the weight of a down day may hang in the balance, in Verdugo Park one can find a hideaway where trouble and problems and all of that stuff are secondary to light and love. “Love will lead the way,” Brandon sings on top of a delectable mix of Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson-esque melody and inspiration.

Two additional songs, neither of which will be on Crayons and Angels, are sterling examples of the power of Schott’s craft. The lightly-psychedelic instrumental “Lapiz Lazuli,” incorporating a healthy dose of inspiration from the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” pairs aural surprises coming from the left and right with a lovely melody realized by three-dimensional background vocals. The track surprises and delights as it drives forward, capturing the listener’s imagination. There is almost an album’s worth of ideas in this transcendent creation, and they’re all alive. Lapiz, or Lapis, Lazuli is a semiprecious stone that is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “probably the sapphire of the ancients.” Really, so like this song.

brandon-schott

Brandon Schott wallpaper, new for 2014

Closing with Robert and Richard Sherman’s “Castaway” is a lovely idea, executed with care and compassion. The song, from Disney’s 1962 film In Search of the Castaways, was originally sung by actress Hayley Mills as a slow ballad, anchored by Mills’ hopeful vocal, acoustic guitar, light orchestration, and a decidedly Randy Newman-esque arrangement (before there was such a thing). Schott’s version takes the same tempo but adds a lovely xylophone sound to the original orchestration. His emotional vocal draws the listener in and makes quite an imprint in only a minute and 38 seconds. This is a brave choice for a cover that should be thought of as the definitive version of one of the greatest songs produced by one of our greatest songwriting duos.

The cover art for this EP (seen above) sports a cartoon illustration of a trio of homing pigeons seemingly connected by just one pair of legs. Attached to the ankle of the pigeon in the foreground is a tag that quite rightly says and points to “Home.” That third pigeon, his head cocked to his left side, knows the score: Brandon Schott has hit it out of the park, “it” being another way of describing the realization of so much talent and heart emanating from a single soul.

That the Verdugo Park EP should be a part of your core pop music collection is a truth that is assured. Travel here to order. Alternatively, you can win a copy by filling out the following form. Entries must be received by midnight ET (the witching hour) on October 31. Only one entry per person. Good luck!

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

We’ve Got a Winner!

Brandon Schott and Andy Reed's vinyl release, the A-B EP

Brandon Schott and Andy Reed’s vinyl release, the A-B EP

Our latest contest has come to a close and, true to form, we have a winner. It’s Rob Wilson. Congratulations, Rob, and thanks for putting your name into the proverbial hat. Your copy of Brandon Schott and Andy Reed’s A-B EP will soon be on its way to you.

More cool contests coming your way very soon. Check back for your next chance to win!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Win Brandon Schott and Andy Reed’s A-B Vinyl EP from Pure Pop Radio!

Brandon Schott and Andy Reed's vinyl release, the A-B EP

Brandon Schott and Andy Reed’s vinyl release, the A-B EP

It’s contest time again! Brandon Schott and Andy Reed’s great vinyl release, the A-B EP, was critically acclaimed right out of the gate, and for good reason. Delivering two wonderful, melodic pop songs apiece, Brandon and Andy instantly whetted the appetites of fans eager to see new albums from them.

Featuring four top-notch songs–Brandon’s “Henry” and “Verdugo Park (Part II),” and Andy’s “The Show Goes On” and “Good Girl”–the EP delivers a wonderful listening experience. And it’s on vinyl!

This EP can be yours if you throw your hat into the ring and enter our “Win the A-B EP” contest. Simply fill in the form below, and be sure to write “A-B EP” in the Comments field. We’ll choose one winner from all entries received by midnight ET on Sunday, February 23.

Good luck!

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

What’s It All About? Listen and Download All of The Interiews from Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation’s Special Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock Week

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation’s special Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock Week ended this past Saturday, capping off six days of talks with Producer Andrew Curry and nine of the artists who contributed tracks to the project. All 10 interviews are now posted on the In Conversation PodOMatic podcast page, ready for you to listen to and download.

In addition to the extensive and in-depth interview with Andrew Curry, you’ll find talks with:

– Linus of Hollywood (“More than I Can Say”)

– Kelly Jones (“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”)

– Brandon Schott (“Thank You for Being a Friend”)

– Christian Phillips (The Sonic Executive Sessions) (“On and On”)

– Wyatt Funderburk (“Bluer than Blue”)

– Willie Wisely (“So Into You”)

– Michael Carpenter (“We Don’t Talk Anymore”)

– Lannie Flowers (“Dance With Me”)

– Scott Klass (The Davenports) (“Just When I Needed You Most”)

If you already have Drink a Toast to Innocence, your enjoyment of this compilation will be suitably enhanced. If you’re new to the album, you’ll be moved to purchase it and enjoy it along with the rest of us.

Thanks, as always, for listening to Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation!

Drink a Toast to Drink a Toast to Innocence on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

Drink a Toast to Drink a Toast to Innocence on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

Visit the Bandcamp page for Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock

 

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

 

Visit the Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation PodOMatic Podcast Page!

Visit the Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation PodOMatic Podcast Page!

Drink a Toast to Innocence Interview Extravaganza Coming Next Week on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

We shouted it from the rooftops throughout 2013, and now it’s come true: Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock has been showered with huzzahs from seven music critics, websites and a rockin’ National Public Radio affiliate down in sunny Florida. And we’re going to celebrate all next week on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation with six days of in-depth interviews with the compilation’s executive producer, Andrew Curry, and nine of the artists who contributed tracks. All told, these interviews constitute the bible on one of the best various artist collections to be released last year or any other year.

Beginning Monday, January 20, and ending on Saturday, January 25, Alan Haber will be talking to Andrew and the incredibly talented group of artists that contributed to Drink a Toast to Innocence. On Monday and Wednesday nights, and on Friday afternoon, Andrew steps up to the microphone and takes you from the idea’s inception to the compilation’s release. Everything you’ve wanted to know about this landmark record will be communicated during this hour and 45 minute-long chat that features tracks from the album. And then Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,  it’s the artists’ turn to talk about the tracks they tackled, taking you from choosing the songs to recording them and beyond. We’re writing the audio book on Drink a Toast to Innocence, dear music fans, and you can only hear it on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.

Here’s the on-air schedule for this exciting group of interviews:

– Monday, January 20 and Wednesday, January 22 at 8 pm ET: Andrew Curry (also Friday, January 24 at 4 pm ET)

– Tuesday, January 21, 8 pm ET: Michael Carpenter talks about “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” Kelly Jones talks about “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” and Brandon Schott talks about “Thank You for Being a Friend”

– Thursday, January 23, 8 pm ET: Lannie Flowers talks about “Dance With Me,” Wyatt Funderburk talks about “Bluer than Blue,” and Linus of Hollywood talks about “More than I Can Say”

– Saturday, January 25, 6 pm ET: Christian Phillips (The Sonic Executive Sessions) talks about “On and On,” Scott Klass (The Davenports) talks about “Just When I Needed You Most,” and Willie Wisely talks about “So Into You”

Don’t miss this exciting event! Jot down the dates and times and immerse yourself in an unprecedented group of interviews with pop’s greatest artists and the man of the hour,  Executive Producer and Lite-rock Impresario Andrew Curry!

Drink a Toast to Drink a Toast to Innocence on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes