Brian Stevens – at Mama Kin – Review

Brian Stevens

at Mama Kin
by Jeb Taylor

This is the first live review I’ve ever done, so be gentle. I missed the opening band completely because of Herman. His real name is Jon but everyone calls him “Herman” because sometimes he gets pretty obnoxious. As he was this night, but I digress… Brian Stevens rocked, rolling out pop tunes with a little originality and a lot of balls. Some folks compared Stevens’ old band, the Cavedogs, to a heavier-sounding Beatles. While that still might be true, Brian and Co. have taken “power pop” to another level. Well, almost.

I pretty much hate comparisons (Rick Springfield meets the Go-Gos meets an unopened can of tuna meets your sphincter), but they can give a pretty good idea of What It Sounds Like. Stevens sounds a lot like Matthew Sweet except with higher-pitched vocals and a few interesting things that set him apart, most notably the backing musicians. The lead guitarist played beautifully. From distorted powerchords to ringing harmonics, everything he played was energetic, tasteful, and original. (Yes… we will send the eye.) The rhythm guitarist also played keys and electric mandolin, which added a keenly interesting flavor to the overall stew. The bass-player laid the foundation well with the punchy growl of a Rickenbacker, yet also grooved melodically at times, offering whomever might be listening tasty treats of heady goodness. Audience interest wavered at times, however, perhaps because sometimes Stevens’ songs sound strikingly similar.

It’s a fun band, led by a great singer/songwriter who has roots in the Beatles, Squeeze, and good pop music. Instruments like the mandolin and synthesizer added some color to a sound which otherwise might be a little unoriginal. Expect great things from him in the future.