Brian Larsen has been making and releasing music since 1997. He’s the rare singer-songwriter that prefers to write and record most or all of his music and tour with a backing band. In his upcoming release, “Building,” Larsen sticks to his stylistic roots in songwriting, but changes his approach. His Youtube followers are very dedicated fans, and his rise to internet-fame is a tribute to the benefits that social-media outlets can hold for music on the World Wide Web.
But where there’s an upside, there’s always a downside. Since the advent of media outlets such as Youtube, the everyman has been given unparalleled access to create content and market themselves. The unfortunate side effect is that not all of it is that great. Just as internet shows are to network television shows and theatrical releases, “Building” is to professionally released albums. The recording quality isn’t necessarily terrible, but the production value seems a bit lacking.
While it’s great to hear musicians avoiding pitch correction to instead honestly portray themselves, this can also occasionally remind us of why pitch correction was invented in the first place. It’s hard to find one song on the album where a guitar, a bass, lead or backing vocals fall slightly out of tune. Similarly, many songs seem to have tempo problems, many glaring enough to distract most listeners from the feel of the song.
Larsen’s lyrics, while no doubt honest and heartfelt, don’t seem very well represented on tape. In “I am Waiting,” Larsen attempts a love song that strives to illicit a longing dedication, but due to odd inflection, repetitious whispers in the background, and warbling vocals, ends up seeming more like a creepy stalker confession.
The rhythm issues combined with the odd instrumental mixing, the budget-sounding synthesized instruments, and the consistently off-pitch vocals and instrumentals leads the listener to feel as if Larsen wanted to crank this album out more like a chore than a labor of love. This feeling of mediocrity is, if not accidentally, best described in the intro to “Hold Me Down”:
I’m going crazy in here/I feeling lazy this year/It’s all wrong
As a general rule, I always try to find something I like about any piece of music. Brian Larsen’s “Building,” however, marks one of the rare occasions that I’m forced into striving to do so. I must compliment the songwriting on many of the tracks, however I don’t feel right doing so without also noting that many songwriters in the history of music have done very well by selling their well-written songs to other artists that can better compliment them. Imagine Bernie Taupin singing “Rocket Man,” or “Candle in the Wind.”
Recommended to: The friends and family of Mr. Larsen, and his dedicated Youtube fans.
“Building” will be available on April 17th, 2012 in both CD and digital formats at www.brian.am. (Pre-orders available now)
Now you know what we think. Listen to his song, How Long and tell us what you think below!
Download Brian Larsen – How Long
Writer’s note: Being a music writer has ups and downs. An upside is that music reviewers get access to all sorts of new music. One of the biggest downsides, however, is how often listening to new music can be like an auditory version of Russian Roulette. When you really love music, it’s hard hearing stuff you don’t like…and even harder to review it for fear of sounding like a snob . I carefully listen to and review all of the music sent to me as honestly as I can. On thing I will never do is pan an artist for sport. I’ll be critical, but never for fun our out of spite. I’d rather write good reviews all the time, but what kind of credence would that lend to my ability to review honestly? When I like something, I’ll say I like it…and when I don’t I won’t. At the end of the day though it’s just my opinion. To all those out there with a passion for making music, continue to do so, regardless of my opinions. That includes Brian Larsen. -Charlie Snyder