Posted: 13 Jul 2004
Don't let the name fool you.
I first heard about Brad Sucks from the guys at Penny Arcade back in October of 2003; it seems this guy had been putting together a compilation of songs by underground artists based around email spam -- be it song titles, lyrics, what-have-you. Intrigued, I downloaded a bunch of the tracks. I wasn't wholly impressed with most of them (one was really annoying, actually), but there was one that stood out: Look and Feel Years Younger. After hearing this go by in my playlist a few times, I finally returned to the site. First off, I discovered that Brad Sucks is only one guy, this dude from Ottawa. I'd have sworn up and down that it was a full band doing this. Second, I checked out a bunch of his other songs as everything he does is available on his site for free distribution.
I was hooked.
While the style is hard to classify, I'll see what I can do. There are elements of rock, folk (not the crappy hippie type), electro, and more. He programs drums (maybe even plays some live percussion, but don't quote me on that), bass, guitars, electronics, and sings multiple layers. Some songs he's even able to mess with the layers to make you think it's more than just him singing, and it all works really well. His voice is a sort of relaxed, almost old-school-country sort of chill. It doesn't sound over-produced (which is easy to do when you're recording it in your house by yourself), nor does it sound under-produced (a similar failure). His shit just works, and I'm left in awe of how he just seems to throw this stuff together. I find his songs stuck in my head all the time, and I'm often sitting in my cube at work trying not to sing out loud and annoy my coworkers. Part of that is his voice is lower than mine, so I sometimes end up croaking it out. I'm a flake, though, so nevermind that bit.
I'll admit that not everything he does agrees with me. The songs I don't like too much generally fall into his older catalog, though. Even those aren't terrible, though. They're just not necessarily my thing. His work is currently divided into three sections -- older demo-quality stuff, his first full-length album (I Don't Know What I'm Doing), and newer stuff that are candidates for the next release.
I Don't Know What I'm Doing is available on the site for just $5, though you can download every track for nothing. I've been meaning to send him some money to show support and get a hard copy of the disc, but I'm lazy. One of these days, I swear.
Here're some of my favorites over the time I've been listening:
"Look and Feel Years Younger"
A well-polished tune that sounds, I swear, like a full band with multiple singers and all that. It alternates between a laid-back groove verse and a more rockin' chorus with distorted guitars and cool little feedback things that probably only I and other guitarists notice. You'll see if you know what I mean. If not, ignore that last part. I highly suggest starting with this one, though.
"Making Me Nervous"
It took over my playlist slowly at first, but once I happened to notice it I found I couldn't stop listening to it. It's a more beat-oriented song with a tricky little kick/handclap/hi-hat drum machine loop, simple yet funky bass, and well-placed little guitar sounds and licks. The smooth vocal tracks over it bring it all together, though. There's no way you can listen to this and not groove along, I promise.
"We're Not Friends"
This one's got crunchy guitars over a fairly simple drum and bass layer. The vocals are catchy and singable. I dunno, it's hard to explain. I find myself singing this one all the time. Good tune.
On top of those, I usually have the following in rotation: "Dropping Out of School," "I Think I Started a Trend," "There's Something Wrong," "Bad Attraction," and "Overreacting." I've also recently downloaded a newer one, "Understood by Your Dad," which is rapidly climbing the charts of my playlist.
What keeps getting me is that while I dig all these songs, he's got more I've never even gotten around to hearing. Just now, actually, I downloaded a couple older ones I'd never listened to -- "Total Breakdown" and "Fixing My Brain."
Anyway, I've been going on about this for a while now. Just do yourself a favor and give a few tracks a listen. If you don't like it, well, all it cost was a little bit of time. We all have plenty of that. If you do like it, though, you'll love it. I guarantee. Go on, I dare you. Just be sure to go to bradsucks.net and not bradsucks.com, especially if you're at work. That's a bad idea all around.