In Music We Trust: August '99 Supperbell Roundup At Station Four (Side One Dummy) By: Alex Steininger
Brendon Massei, also known as Supperbell Roundup, is an amazing nineteen-year-old who has been traveling the country with a greyhound bus pass and a guitar since he was sixteen years old. On AT STATION FOUR he delivers a country album as pure as they come; tender, emotional, and full of heart, the banjo and acoustic guitar are the center focus, while his voice and lyrics are just as pure. "Playing the Old Banjo" opens up the album with some hot picking action as he taps away at his old banjo and creates a stomping smooth country number sure to please folk, country, and even rock fans. His voice adds experience and a life-on-the-road truth to the music so, as he sings, you know it to be straight from the miles he's clocked on his feet and guitar.
"Where You'd End Up" is a soft, laid back acoustic number that glides through the air with a gentle stillness. It feels like a man sitting on his porch in the hot summer's heat playing and singing what he feels as the day turns to afternoon and there is nothing but beautiful country life for miles.
"The Night Before You Had To Leave" is yet another solid country number that will make fans of true country (not the Nashville pop crap corporate America passes off as country) take notice and fall in love with. Brendon has the skills, the heart, and the warmth, as well as the experience, to craft finely tuned country greatness.
"Where'd It All Go Wrong" is another down home, porch-life country song with some rich vocal harmonies and great lyrics. A detailed story about "stealing food" and wondering "Where'd It All Go Wrong?", Brendon pinpoints life through many American's eyes in a peaceful, yet blunt way, making the listener take notice and realize how great they have it. And, for those that can relate to his poignant message, he warms up your heart and makes you feel like change -- a new life and a happier day -- can be right around corner.
Ending with "Leaving Town," the subtle number gently breezes through with a quiet noise that will grab a hold of you and burn deep inside you for quite some time. Brendon is quite the songwriter, and at nineteen, a rare commodity in the youth-filled, beat-the-trends-to-death market we live in.
For many songwriters, it takes time and plenty of records to nail their craft, but Brendon seems to have it down before he's even old enough to buy alcohol. His songs are filled with realism, sorrow, and truths of life as he sees it. Whether the songs are relating to sad or uplifting tails, he paints the picture as real as he can, and makes sure the listener is feeling everything he feels. I'll give this album an A+.
Splendid E-zine: June '99 Supperbell Roundup At Station Four Side One Dummy CD He's world weary. He plays the banjo and sings sad songs. He wears cool old-school clothes and a funny hat. He rides buses and sleeps on floors. He's always leaving town. He's a little bit country and a little bit alterna-roll. He's a midwestern traveler, a pal of bands like Palace and Sebadoh, a banjo picker, a mandolin strummer, a harmonica blower. He's Brendon Massei, Las Vegas native and sole proprietor of Supperbell Roundup. The banjo picking isn't going to knock you over (if you're into banjo picking that is), but it provides just the right backdrop for Mr. Massei's simple stories of girls, highways, loss and loneliness. Sometimes he sounds a bit weary for his age (20?), but the glimpses of teen-angst that peek through the music now and again keep things interesting. At Station Four is a lovely start -- I can't wait to hear what happens when Massei's train arrives.
Kibbutz Music Reviews: April '99 Supperbell Roundup, At Station Four -- Another independent release that's made its way to me is by Brendon Massei, a nineteen year old banjoist and songwriter who uses the unconscionably awful stage name Supperbell Roundup. I had fairly dismal expectations of this record, but it's actually rather interesting. Massei mostly writes his own songs, in a lyrical style that emphasizes roads and girls and the trope of the American highway song, but the production and singing are more indie than country. The closest resemblance, once you excuse the banjo picking, is to Will Oldham, Smog, Beck or any of a host of indie rockers who've adopted country forms, like the Silver Jews. Massei in fact has played with Sebadoh and Palace, which makes the comparisons fairly explicit. I'm not well-versed in the banjo, but Massei sounds like a pretty decent banjo player, and it's not an unpleasant twenty-eight minutes to just sit back and listen without paying too much attention to the lyrics, which, like Oldham's, are often artless and conversational. "Lord Knows, I Need My Own Place to Stay" is depressive stoner bluegrass, "The Night Before You Had to Leave" riffs on "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," and a cover of Elizabeth Cotten's "O Babe, It Ain't No Lie" is like every miserable country gospel spiritual, simultaneously pathetic and uplifting.
Snack Cake: 1999 Supperbell Roundup At Station Four Side One
Supperbell Roundup consists of one Brendon Massei and At Station Four is an album of somber country/folk ditties, some of which feature Massei's considerable skills on the banjo. I know what you're thinking: "Banjos = scary." Yes, I agree, but when placed in the hands of someone who understands how to use the instrument, it can actually be a pretty cool thing. Let's face it, there's no other sound like it, and most Americans, whether through years of media conditioning or some real, primal reaction, hold a soft spot for the odd-shaped instrument. Luckily, for Massei, he's got a voice that's suitably rugged and frontier-like. When coupled with banjo and guitar-strumming, as on "The Night Before You Had To Leave," the whole thing comes off as believable. Tim Scanlin
Austin Chronicle: April '99 SUPPERBELL ROUNDUP At Station Four (Side 1/Dummy) Brendon Massei, the lone member of Supperbell Roundup, has been putting cash on the barrelhead and riding Greyhound buses around the country since the age of 16, and as such, he's not really from anywhere. "I guess I wasn't supposed to know that you'd grown attached to me," sings Massei on the Carter Family-infused "The Night Before You Had to Leave." Though the world-weary 19-year-old exchanges banjo for the Carters' harmonies, the timeless melodies and three-chord simplicity remain powerful tools. Massei, however, only occasionally manipulates them effectively, and when he fumbles, the result is more Mel Bay folk instruction tapes than country's first family. The Supperbell also rings of early, Kentuckified Palace; Massei's banjo is similarly sparse, more about atmospherics than acrobatics, but his vocals (oddly similar to They Might Be Giants) are easier on the ears than Palace's Will Oldham. On the At Station Four album cover, Massei, all Oliver Twist-like in his Thirties streetclothes and tweed cap, gazes off to another place and time. On this debut, he's not always seeing it, but he's staring hard nonetheless.
2 stars -- Kim Mellen
Aiding & Abetting: May '99 Supperbell Roundup At Station Four (Side 1) reviewed in issue #181, 5/3/99
The third Uncle Tupelo album (March 19-20, 1992) was something of a return to folk roots and included a good number of banjo picking songs. Brendon Massei is from Missouri, and I know he knows that album. One of my favorites. What Massei does is play simple songs, him singing along with a banjo or acoustic guitar. His voice is a bit less raspy than Jay Farrar's, but I still get that feel.
But these are his songs, and Massei has put his stamp on everything here. Extremely personal and introspective pieces, the sort of thing which is immediately arresting. It is simply impossible to hit the stop button while this disc is playing.
The recording is perfect. A wonderfully full acoustic guitar sound (none of that nasty tinny sound which is way too prevalent), and Massei's own voice, with just a few overdubs at key points. Haunting is a good word.
Quite a set. Massei has worked hard at his picking and playing and singing and writing skills, and that's so easy to hear. Intimate and inviting, the perfect accompaniment for a meandering afternoon.
Altar Native: July '99 Supperbell Roundup - At Station Four (Side1Dummy) Guitarist and banjo player Brendon Massei manages to soothe tense nerves with an introspective folk album. Touching on subjects including lost love on "Things aren't the Same as they Used to Be" ("I once had something to look forward to/I once had the girl/and now I'm left without a pot to piss in"), (OK, forget about the love part), and musical persistence on "Playing the Old Banjo." Massei has a story to tell. Just don't touch your food before you've had a chance to listen. - Omar Perez
Mish Mash Music: June '99 Supperbell Roundup Title: "At Station Four"
Label: Side 1 Dummy
Format: 11 song CD
There's a forlorn sound coming from the banjo of Brendon Massei, AKA Supperbell Roundup. Massei keeps it very simple--a single banjo or acoustic guitar with lead and backing vocals--and the result feels very lonesome, indeed. He blends the sounds of blues, folk, and bluegrass into a hybrid that equally relflects all three styles seamlessly.
"Playing The Old Banjo" seems like it should be upbeat and festive, yet Massei delivers it in traditional bluegrass fashion--in an almost tired and melancholy way, that "high and lonesome" sound. "Lord Knows, I Need My Own Place to Stay" reminds me of Johnny Cash in its structure, although Massei's voice is much lighter and more timid than Cash. As a matter of fact, he sounds like Beck singing a Johnny Cash song. A more traditional folk feel comes alive in "The Night Before You Had to Leave", which actually uses a line from "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean".
It's hard to be cutting edge and traditional all at one time, but Massei pulls it off by doing his own simple thing. There's an unpolished appeal here that transcends a lot of today's commercial music.
MISH MASH Mandate: Pickin' and grinnin'
Lazyeye Music Reviews: September '99 Supperbell Roundup At Station Four
Side 1 Dummy
If he ever gets heard by the coffeeshop folkies, who are too busy reading The Progressive and wondering whatever happened to Woody G., he'll find his audience. Until then, it's sink or swim by way of plucky banjo, sad-sack vocals and well-intentioned ennui. Brendon Massei's first mistake seems to have been to call himself Supperbell Roundup, until you realize the moniker is so strange you'll never forget it.
The sound is stripped down, indie-style, one-man-powered pickin' folk. The resemblance is dead-pan Beck a la One Foot in the Grave. Missing is any sort of unique modern-day reflection of the world, central to any good folk song because it's the words that carry it. The bio says he's been wandering around the country on a Greyhound since he was 16. He must have spent most of time asleep in the back or reading Steinbeck. Anyone could have dreamed up these tales of wandering woe without leaving their living room. At his best, he tells us his worries while he reinvents traditional folk and makes it his own, in the dialect of a 19-year-old drifter. But those moments are few and drowned out by plain-Jane traditionalism that's pleasent, if uninspired. Still, you can hear the potential, and it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with the next time he steps off the bus.
In Music We Trust: March '00 INTERVIEW: Brendon Massei Singer-songwriter (Brendon Massei) By: Alex Steininger
Traveling around the country, living in the back seat of his car, and playing tremendously heart felt music to bar room patrons and fans alike since the age of sixteen, singer-songwriter Brendon Massei has been a wandering musician for more than four years. With March's release of Supperbell Round-Up's At Station Four , Massei has proven to be far beyond his years in both style and substance. Alex: Why Supperbell Round-up? Why not Brendon Massei?
Brendon: Future releases will more than likely be under 'Brendon Massei.' That was considered with At Station Four [Brendon's debut album] as well, but 'Supperbell Roundup' is just what it is. Since its release in March, I've been plainly going by 'Supperbell' on flyers and bills and introducing myself as 'Brendon Massei' before playing. When the new records come out, certainly things will change.
Alex: You've been travelling on a Greyhound and playing live since age sixteen... what made you so determined to give up a 'normal' teen life and just tour the country playing music?
Brendon: Actually, I had been playing live in bands since age fourteen, but when age sixteen came about, I helped my mom move to Kansas City. At the time, I was not fond of the place, so I moved back to Las Vegas where we had been living before and where I thought I had it made. A few months passed when I realized that Vegas wasn't such a great place for me either, so from there I wandered.
Alex: How did the deal with Side One Dummy come about?
Brendon: One of the co-owners, Joe Sib, I befriended years ago when he was in a band called 'Wax.' One evening in March of '97 I went to see his new band 22 Jacks play at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas. I had given him a cassette of music I'd been working on, since we usually would exchange stuff like that when we'd run into each other. He called a few days later, very excited about what I was doing, and wanted to talk to his partner Bill about releasing my music. I went out to Los Angeles that September, recorded half the record, then finished it the following February. There were some bumps in the road for a while afterwards, but since this record came out in March, things could not have been better. Side One has really pulled through for me.
Alex: What are you currently up to? Are you touring or working on new material?
Brendon: I have been on the road since May when I moved out of the church where I was living in Chicago. I wrote and recorded about a record and a half's worth of material in the six months duration of my stay. After leaving, I've been around the country twice, most times playing shows, and other times just driving. I just got a place to stay for a while in Missouri about three weeks ago. After eight months of couches and the backseat of my little car, it is quite nice having my own place again. Yeah, I've been mostly working on new material lately. There are still about two full lengths of unrecorded songs that need taken care of.
Alex: Are the new songs similar in style to At Station Four or do you see yourself going in a new musical direction?
Brendon: They are similar in feeling, I'd say, but sonically, indeed they are headed somewhere else.
Alex: Do you plan to expand the instrumentation on future recordings, or do you like the banjo and guitar being the primary instruments?
Brendon: I recorded a full length with this great engineer in Chicago, Kris Poulin in July of '98. He runs a place there called Lab East Recording Scenario. The record we made has electric guitars, bass, drums, and just a hint of banjo and mandolin. Much different from At Station Four . Much more going on. I finished another full length in January '99 that has more piano and organs, as well as the electric instruments. That was done myself at the church where I lived.
Alex: Any plans when your follow-up full length will be out?
Brendon: Hopefully the songs Kris Poulin recorded will be out in March or April. Since I've got so much on the back burner, I may try to release those myself. There isn't a label at the moment that is putting out my forthcoming records.
Alex: Will you tour prior to a new album, or do you want to get something else out to promote before you go on a full-scale tour?
Brendon: I'd like to be touring again by the spring, but it's hard to say what exactly will happen. It would definitely be much nicer having the new record ready. In the meantime, I'll just be playing shows here and there.
Alex: What are some of your biggest and reasonable musical dreams you'd like to accomplish?
Brendon: Does it get better than this?
Aiding & Abetting: May '00 Brendon Massei No More Sad Eyes (self-released) reviewed in issue #199, 5/8/00
Ditching the Supperbell Roundup moniker (and moving to Chicago), Brendon Massei has decided to step out under his own power. It's just him and his guitar (mostly) this time out, but the stars, as before, are the songs.
And that's not to say that Massei can't play. He can. In fact, he writes songs that compliment his excellent picking style. The songs often have a bleak lyrical tone, but somehow they end up sounding hopeful. No matter how much the past sucked, the future can't be worse. Or something like that.
I'm simplifying, and that's quite dangerous when talking about songs with power such as these. Massei's deft playing and singing can mask some of the harsher emotions (one of the things about Wil Oldham is that he wields his voice and guitar as emotive hammers, not instruments), but I think that ease of delivery also provides a quicker entry.
Or, to equivocate just a little bit more, there is more than one way to play heartfelt songs of despair. As before, I'm blown away. Anything I say can't begin to describe the totality of vision found on this disc.
Las Vegas Weekly: '98 BRENDON MASSEI Supperbell Roundup RECYCLED CARBON RECORDINGS
It's not the same instrument immortalized by Deliverance. Brendon Massei makes the banjo sound downright pretty. In fact, he makes everything sound pretty in a sad and sweet way on his five-song Supperbell Roundup EP. There's a tone of moody emotion on the CD that's difficult to carry off without sounding contrived, but the timbre of Massei's voice leaves no doubt as to his sincerity. In "This Town" he conveys a weariness beyond the years of a man not yet 20: "I cannot see what lies before me, And there's no telling where I'll land next, As I sit on the floor, I just waste more of my life." If the singer's actions belie the exaggerated ennui of the words, he can't help but thrive in the growing alterna-country arena. It's hard to believe he has much time for sitting on the floor, unless he always has an instrument in hand. Massei makes the banjo his own, and it's a good signature instrument, but he's also a standout on guitar, mandolin and harmonica--he recorded all of the music as well as backup vocals. Las Vegans will be rooting for Massei, a legend in the local music scene even before he was learning the banjo and bugging everyone in the process. For the time being he makes his home in Missouri, but a little part of the local legend is available on the beautifully packaged and numbered EP, available at Benway Records or from Recycled Carbon, 17 Prairie Dog Dr, Henderson, NV 89014. (Dawn Pomento)
Mish Mash Reviews: July '00 Brendon Massei "No More Sad Eyes" No Town 14 song CD As the artist formerly known as Supperbell Roundup, Brendon Massei wailed away on a lonely banjo, creating beautiful solitary sounds. Now performing under his own name, he is doing much more of the same, yet now with more emphasis on guitar than the banjo. There is also a slight departure from his previous album with the addition of electric guitars, bass and drums on a few songs, adding a new dimension to Massei's eccentric songwriting.
Get Me Away, And Get Me Back is one such song, utilizing a full band to accomplish a driving and upbeat road tune. It is a slight shock to hear this ensemble kick in, especially when you're expecting his standard set-up, so the surprise is used to full effect. Another surprise comes at the end of Las Vegas Town, a song that starts out quiet and folksy, and ends up with dissonant guitar sounds in the mix. Loud and off-kilter electric guitar washes into I Can't Hang just long enough to punctuate the angst that flows throughout the song. Massei knows how to throw a curve ball, and he does it in all the right places.
With his latest effort, Massei shows that he has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. It's a weird and wonderful piece of work that keeps you on your toes.
Swizzlestick : June '00 BRENDON MASSEI
He's the coal miner's son, the folkie whose seen more in his twenty-something years of life than many people his own age. He travels the country, guitar slung over his shoulder, looking for handouts on the street corners and he gently strums his guitar and sings the tales of yesterday. How much of this is fact, I'm not sure, but Brendon Massei certainly evokes these images through his stark folk music. After releasing an album under the moniker Supperbell Roundup on the punk label Side One/Dummy last year, Brendon recently threw his own spare change into the hat and put out a CD under his own name. (www.notownsound.tripod.com)
1. Who were you in your past life?
Heironimus Karl Fredrich Baron von Munchausen... Baron Munchausen, of course!!!
2. You seem to have settled comfortably into a particular songwriting style. If you were to write an album that critics called "experimental," what would it sound like?
An elderly Mozart after several strokes on a child's Jaymar.
3. Besides your guitar, what do you consider to be your most valued possession?
My belt (seriously)
4. How do you handle a crowd that won't pay attention or that talks through your set?
I don't really do anything...I lack in the department of wit, so I usually just become frustrated and disappointed.
5. What can you remember about your first public performance (whether it was a school play, an open mic night, a performance on a street corner, etc.)?
I was half of a two-piece rock band when I was fifteen...Benway Bop! Records...Las Vegas, Nevada...June 11, 1994...folks showed up...clapped their hands every now and again...drank lots of iced tea...
6. If I looked through your record/tape/CD collection, what would be the most surprising thing I would find?
Behead the Prophet No Lord Shall Live...either that or Gordon Lightfoot.
7. Your last album was released on a punk rock label. How do you fit into the punk rock world?
In Music We Trust: July '00 Brendon Massei No More Sad Eyes (Broken Porch Music) By: Alex Steininger
Twenty year old Brendon Massei is a rare find in the days of one hit wonders and musicians jumping on various bandwagons to stake their claims in the non-existent world of lasting rock stardom. Passing on every trend, and traveling the US in his car or with a Greyhound bus pass since the age of 16, Massei prefers to covert one or two souls a night to his music, rather than chase after the gold at the end of the rainbow that is a major label recording contract. Previously going as Supperbell Roundup, Massei's second full-length (and first under his name) continues down the path of self-discovery, observations of American life, and tales of living on the road. Common man, blue-collar folk at its purist, Massei shakes things up with subtle pop and dusty country goodness.
Expanding on the simple acoustic guitar and voice beginnings of At Station Four (Side 1), No More Sad Eyes gives the full on band treatment to a few songs, including "Get Me Away, And Get Me Back," while still serving up humble singer-songwriter moments like "The Way And The Will To Do So" and "Las Vegas Town."
A gem in its own right, No More Sad Eyes is the sweat and blood of a man carving his name in the musical sidewalk, doing things his own way, and being thankful every time a new ear comes his way, or someone helps him out. A gentleman to the fullest, Massei is a rare gem indeed, as is his music. I'll give this an A-.
Pitch Weekly: September '00 Brendon Massei No More Sad Eyes (No Town Records) After releasing one full-length album and several compilation tracks with Supperbell Roundup, Brendon Massei has delivered his emotionally charged solo debut. Full of subtle acoustic guitar melodies and weary, nuanced vocals, No More Sad Eyes is a low-key delight. Among the highlights are the plinky, downbeat "I Know Where I'll Go, Where We'll All Go," which showcases two distinct shades of Massei's voice, and the stripped-down "Get Me Away, and Get Me Back." With such song titles as "If You've No One to See, I'd Love You to Go Out with Me," Massei operates from a genuinely vulnerable stance that's a refreshing change from the cocky attitude that's invaded nearly every genre. Occasionally, Massei rocks out a bit, as when the fuzzy guitars kick in two minutes into "I Can't Hang" and when overlapping noise swarms over his vocals at the end of "Las Vegas Town," but for the most part this is a charming, soft-spoken songwriting effort. Massei the meek might not inherit the earth, but he should at least win the hearts of fans of everyone from Bright Eyes to Elliott Smith.
Yahtzine Reviews: ??? supperbell roundup - at station four CD (side one dummy) nice folky kinda thing going on with supperbell roundup, what an odd name though, but i'll leave that alone. normally something like this would probably do very little for me but as i sit here nursing a bad migraine some quiet soothing music actually did wonders for me. something i'd be likely to listen to again when it's time to hit the sack.
Turkshead Reviews: Auguest '01 Supperbell Roundup At Station Four Side 1 Dummy 6201 Sunset Blvd. Suite 211 Hollywood, CA 90028 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.side1.com
Supperbell Roundup is actually the pseudonym of one Brendon Massei, a Missouri kid who sounds like he stepped out of the Great Depression. You'll get that time warped feeling when listening to his banjo picking and acoustic guitar songs. Massei started travelling the country by Greyhound bus at age 16, and now that he's 19, he's released his first album, "At Station Four". The songs are world-aware and savvy for such a young tunesmith. You can hear the aching echo of Woody Guthrie in Massei's voice, a real throwback to the days of Leadbelly, Sonny Terry, Jimmie Rogers, freight trains and dust bowls. And this isn't mere posturing; the stuff sounds authentic, haggard -- if it were film, it'd be grainy black 'n white. Lyrically, Supperbell Roundup, isn't quite in the Woody Guthrie league -- the songs are primarily first-person perspective, doses of careful self reflection, which means that the stories they tell are less about hobos, cowboys, drifters, robbers and migrants, than they are about loves lost and won, restless wanderin' and roamin'. Supperbell Roundup's acute focus on restless dislocations brings him into a very modern, very American sensibility, perfect for the hordes of coffeehouse transplants living in cookie cutter stick houses hundreds and thousands of miles from their homes. At Station Four is proof positive that the American Heartland continues to pump strong, beyond the din of interstate and strip mall.
Honky.diaryland.com: December '99
I thought I'd do a retrospective entry! So here you go, boys and girls...my review of the year that was in concerts...
Best Live Shows of 1999 (chronologically)...
Looper/Khan/Supperbell Roundup. 7/23/99, Tramps, NYC. Man, where to start. Supperbell Roundup was a two-piece acoustic band whose guitarist kept making eyes at Leigh. Khan was, well, they were Khan. They gave Gina some anal lubricant and I got a Kiss tape. Looper was great and the fans ate it up; they played just about everything and closed out with Stuart David doing an unreleased Belle and Sebastian song, "Winter Wooskie", solo. Wild.
Splendid Ear Zine: ??? What kind of music is Brendon Massei making? Folk? Country? Pop? I really can't say. It's mostly acoustic. It's got shades of bluegrass, hints of the blues. It's very pretty. Where do record stores put his CDs? No idea. I know where I put them, though -- right next to my CD player, where they're ready for a spin at a moment's notice.
I guess Massei is a singer-songwriter, although it seems a bit strange to think of him that way. His songs don't sound singer-songwriter-y. They sound like songs your grandpaw might have sung to your mom when she was little...sort of. They're not old-fashioned songs by any means, and while Massei may not be writing songs about microchip brain implants and the International Space Station, he's clearly singing about the life of a 21st-century human trying to make sense of his world.
Massei's first release, At Station Four (under the name Supperbell Roundup), was musically upbeat, but pretty dark lyrically. No More Sad Eyes goes without most of the banjo picking that gave At Station Four its energy, but finds Massei in a more positive, if not optimistic, mood. The music on this one is almost all guitar picking, with just a touch of banjo, electric guitar, bass and drums on some songs. At first I really missed the banjo's presence, but after a few listens the pure prettiness of the guitar lines won me over. That and Massei's honest, confident singing is what really makes these songs work.
The CD's opening track, "Get me away, and get me back strong" is the one that comes closest to being a rock song (or at least electric folk), although it doesn't really try very hard -- drums and bass make only a brief appearance, before and after which Massei's singing and playing easily fill in the gaps. "The ones most valued" is just the kind of sweet, longing, song that Massei excels at. Probably the prettiest song on the CD is the last, "They call me what they will"; it really highlights Massei's gift for combining convincing vocals and rich guitar picking with fine songwriting.
I like this CD, and Massei's previous one, a lot. They're really worth checking out.
-- irving bellemead
Gleis 22: January '02
Brendon Massei ist ein Tier. Nein, nicht auf der Bühne sondern im Songwriting. Er schreibt so wunderbar einfühlsame Songs, die einen alles andere um einen herum vergessen lassen. Die Songs sind so wunderbar relaxt und zeugen von einer Lebenserfahrung, die ein Mittzwanziger nur vorweisen kann, wenn er wie Brendon seit seinem 16. Lebensjahr durch die Weltgeschichte reist. In einem Interwiew sagte er mal, daß sein wichtigster Besitz neben seiner Gitarre sein Gürtel sei. Das kann ich nur sehr gut verstehen. Quench
(Brendon Massei is an animal. No, not on the stage but in the Songwriting. It writes so marvelously projecting einfuehlsame Songs, which lets one forget everything else around one. The Songs is relaxt so marvelous and witnesses from a life experience, which can only show memo twenties, if he like Brendon since its 16. Lebensjahr by world history travels. In a Interwiew he said times that
BRENDON MASSEI BLOOMFIELD BRIDGE TAVERN Saturday, February 22, 2003 Brendon Massei comes across like an unassuming sort of guy. His CD, No More Sad Eyes, doesn't include his name or a title anywhere other than the spine. The cover features a grainy black-and-white photo of, presumably, the singer. The back has a shot of him taken from behind, along with unnumbered song titles. Since most are named with lengthy phrases, it's hard to tell where one ends and another starts. This simplistic layout recalls the albums by Jandek, the anonymous, eccentric guitarist who has released a plethora of albums since 1978, each one more intriguing and bizarre than the last. No More Sad Eyes isn't as outré as Jandek, but it does have a similar starkness. Born in Michigan to two truck drivers, Massei nearly evokes the barren surroundings that led to his birth. "You let me come by, crash on your floor/ you gave me alcohol, gave me acceptance/ you gave me family, let me not forget this," he murmurs on "Those Who Have Helped Me," to the bare accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. It's as if he wants to show gratitude for shelter and vice, but he's too shy to express it. Or else he grabbed the guitar before brewing the morning coffee. Although a couple songs on the album have the accompaniment of bass and drums, most consist of nothing more than Massei and his guitar or banjo. It might be impossible to play sad music on the latter instrument, but "No More Sad Eyes, And Have You Less Fear" certainly sounds pensive enough. Massei moves through words and chord changes slowly, yet he creates a hypnotic mood, leaving listeners in suspense as to what he'll say next. -- MIKE SHANLEY
Gleiss 22 recommended listenings: Brendon Massei - Crosses Nearly spiritual new recording! Songs that make you feel safe, sad and warm at the same time, between Will Oldham and Songs:Ohia!!! Outstanding voice! Contact me, if you like to hear or release his recordings! --Frank Dietrich, Munster, Germany
Fujichia.com Fri Feb 28 '03: so the show went exceedingly well. lots of poeple showed up, and what's more, lots showed up with potluck food items, so we all ate real well. cool breeze went on first... adam's opinion was up next... brendon massei got up after him and did some real murder ballad kind of stuff, big story arcs that go through seven songs with returning themes and everything, with a limited dynamic range, but powerful dynamics (only loud or soft, no middle ground). it was great... oh yeah, thanks all my friends who came out, it made me really psyched. everyone who missed it, i'm planning another house show in a month or so maybe? maybe for right before btzt? --Jacob Berendez, Worcester, Mass.
from http://tinymixtapes.com Nov 14, '04: Towards the middle of the [Devendra Banhart] set, the band took the time to play a rousing rendition of "Amour Fou" by Vetiver, and then turned it over to Viking Moses for two songs, who nearly stole the show. Donned with a garland of flowers, his booming voice was truly amazing, as he ran around the stage with his arms flailing. If I would have had any extra money, I would have bought everything he had. ______________________________
Claremont, CA Feb 2004 by Rebecca Carlisle-Healey: We were playing in this room in the basement. It was dark and pretty, but there was an air conditioner blasting on the empty side. Viking Moses played a song and then said "wait..." and then we all went out to the hallway. What happened was, at the end of Brendon's set, he stood up and wandered down the hallway. He did not stop walking, nor did he stop singing, and Kyle [Little Wings] ran after him with sandal-squeak echoing on the tile. There was silence for a few moments, and then Kyle's voice strides up back through the halls to us, followed by Kyle himself, followed by a shirtless Viking Moses. Viking Moses had earlier in the day said to me, "that is how I want to play my set!" while pointing to a picture of a shirtless brawn. Oh, Naked Moses, you little scamp. I might add that this is one of the best shows I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. ______________________________
"Viking Moses’ Golden Apples are Delicious" by Ethan Goldwater, Cambridge, MA October 2004: Viking Moses rose up in the center of the Zeitgeist. His face moved sharp under a scraggly beard, welcoming the Tuesday night crowd to circle round holding hands. “Tonight I’d like to sing you some songs about abandonment,” he said. “Everyone here knows that feeling in some way...I would just like to offer some hope and courage… to not let go...” The room felt well froze. The feeling he brought felt so old. It marinated for a second then, before his less sober singing voice took hold. “Without Love, life is gone...without life love goes on and on” went the refrain of “Crosses.” Many in the circle around him seemed to recognize that song—it is featured in the Golden Apples of the Sun compilation, which was released in conjunction with Arthur magazine last spring. ______________________________
Pitchfork Media review by Brandon Stosuy July 8, 2004: Viking Moses also kicks it Little Wings-style; his "Crosses" (from the album of the same name) displays a pawnshop sweetness: "Without love, life is gone/ Without life, love goes on and on."