Sean O’Brien "Seed of Mayhem" (First Cold Press 2008)
A solid collection of songs (with great cover art!)from a seasoned likable Californian
Sean O’Brien has been knocking around in bands in California for the best part of a couple of decades. He has released solo efforts before, as well as been part of records by The Mistaken and The Mariettas. His style is rooted in early 80s alternative, so think ‘Murmur’ REM, but, oddly enough, with a hint of prog thrown in, so there’s rather more noodly guitar than you might expect from an REM comparison. Though the performances and the writing are not exactly ground breaking, there is something likable about Sean. He’s got a groove that he’s good at, as proved on ‘Stumblebum’, or the poppy ‘The Good Fight’, but he’s not afraid to venture a long way from it to explore different ideas, not that they always come off, but the willingness to try is an admirable quality.
Oddest venture is ‘Dough See Dough’ which sounds like a German omm-pah band playing ska, not one that’s scoring heavily on repeat plays so far! Other songs, according to Sean, are variously influenced by Nick Drake, Charlie Mingus, the Beatles and Television (as in ‘Marquee Moon’), that’s a fairly large pool to be fishing in! This is a decent record of solid if slightly retro songs. He is currently working on a new record with his band, the Dirty Hands.
(While this is a music review, as an aside to the main topic, the painting used as coverart for this CD is by Sean’s brother Liam, and it is really something. It’s a picture of the O’Brien’s grandparents painted with nods to Edward Hopper, and Grant Wood’s iconic ‘American Gothic’, but with very much its own life, and a haunting, slightly Hitchcockian, atmosphere. Even though this is a portrait of sorts, as happens with Hopper, it’s the sort of picture to which you start to add your own narrative, as if it’s a film still. Extraordinarily impressive.)
Date review added: Thursday, February 07, 2008
Reviewer: Patrick Wilkins
Related web link: myspace site