Brad Turcotte's album title is disingenuous. He knows that getting free music publicised is difficult because there's so much of it. He's a canny operator whose excellent website reveals a keen understanding of the effect that the net is having on budding musicians who won't/can't deal with the big record labels i.e. get the music heard by giving it away for free and then make a living out of concerts, merchandising and subsequent albums. I first heard Brad's music because Reaper, the music production software, uses the first track on his album as its demo project; then I saw his album on Jamendo and wanted to hear more of his stuff. Like I said, canny. But first, a quick digression:
- If you make music using Cubase, Logic, Fruity Loops, Sonar, etc., check out Reaper. It's programmed by the same guy who made Winamp and it's got a lot of the music production industry excited/scared. The software works beautifully. And it's free until you want to pay for it. Read the previous sentence again, think about it, and then go meet the Reaper.
- Jamendo has over 8,000 free albums available to download - all you have to do is register. There's no charge, no hidden fee. The software works fitfully. The music is free unless you want to make a donation. Read the previous sentence again, think about it, read the first sentence again, think about it, and then take a large shopping bag to the musical equivalent of The Matrix.
The opener, Making Me Nervous, is the album's cuckoo, having pushed itself to the front so it gets fed before everyone else. The bouncy dance-rock is out of step with the rest of the mid-tempo album, but it's really catchy. And that's Brad's secret. I Don't Know What I'm Doing is the catchiest free album I've heard so far. Just a couple of listens and you'll grab the nearest broomstick/toothbrush/current squeeze and belt out lyrics like these:
"I wanna know where the hell the days go." Look and Feel Years Younger
"It seems you've mistaken me for someone who cares, I'm just a dirtbag under the weather..." Dirtbag
There's a bit of Beck in there, but I also get a strong whiff of Nirvana. The album betrays its one-man-band home-recording origin, but it still sounds good. Sometimes the vocal needs pushing to the front, and the drums could definitely do with beefing up and a little more variation (Bad Attraction, I'm looking at you). All in all, the album is crying out for a top-line producer to make the sound fly. Though it's still very good, you understand. God, I'm anal.
I like all of the twelve tracks but will mention only a few more for brevity's sake:
Fixing My Brain discusses neural correction and whether it should be stimulated by chemicals and/or love or whether one will lose one's sense of self in the process. Oh hell, it's got dreamy vocals and strumming guitars - just sing along to it. Sick As A Dog is a slow, restrained grind with multi-tracked vocals on top - just the type of thing Nirvana did so well. Give the track a course of vitamins via a top record producer and it would reach rock, well, nirvana. Overreacting, a life-enhancing message for Earth's depressives, sounds like something John Lennon might have written: heartfelt lyrics and a tune that stays with you. I'm not overreacting.
The album's strengths are the multi-tracked vocals, the quirky lyrics, the meaty acoustic and electric guitar riffs and, above all, the melodies. You will find yourself singing these songs in the street/bed/bath/lavatory. CTW's infallible test of quality - only the classiest songs get sung in the toilet.
There are more excellent things on Brad's website: free sound files for each song so you can remix them (a round of applause), remixes from fans, lyric sheets, the opportunity to buy the album in CD format or from iTunes, and t-shirts, etc. And Brad has a new album coming out fairly soon; I hope it's a huge success.
A good song is a good song. I Don't Know What I'm Doing is a good album. Why not suck it and see?
Don't look at me like that.
Brad Sucks - I Don't Know What I'm Doing (link to album at Jamendo)
Brad Sucks home page (there's a lot more here than just the music)
Reaper (if you make music on your computer, take a look)
Jamendo (English language version) (where you will find an insane number of free albums)