If you have ever attended a city sponsored festival or some small town fair a live band always comes with the festivities. Mostly you get covers but every now and then you hear a band that sounds so good ticking off original song after original song and you wonder, how do these guys not have representation?
But fresh and full of talent. That’s Brian Jay Cline.
But Cline has been around a while. The Brooklyn, NY native, hardly a newcomer on the music scene, released his 11th album The Avenue in May a lively record of 10 guitar centric rock songs punctuated by tight solos throughout along with fun chords and upbeat licks. At least I think it’s his 11th album. (Turns out it’s his 14th release!)
Very little information actually exists about Cline in this hyperactive information age. He’s got some mention on AllMusic and Bandcamp, an old MySpace page and a mostly unused Facebook account that last featured a post in 2013. No personal website, either, as far as I can turn up. But you can find most of his records on Kool Kat Musik.
Perhaps that’s how Cline prefers it (certainly I can relate) and he lets all the music do the talking. Really, what better way to find true success than through word of mouth?
Truly, what a splendid collection of songs. Had Cline released these 20 years or so ago perhaps he might have risen towards a household name but alas those alternative rock chords highlighting that decade moved on to different arrangements. No matter, the subtle inclusion of modern country into his rock prowess similar to say, Carbon Leaf, helps Cline stand out and sometime above others in his genre. Cline has a great voice – smooth and articulate along with a bold baritone that sounds at times like a cross between Bon Jovi and Chris Isaak. Indeed, it starts to get addicting after a few rounds through this record.
However, unlike some of his predecessors who Cline ranks right up there in age, no woe is me, lost my way, gut punchers here. If you’re looking for solemn or something to help get the tears flowing while you figure out life’s demands forget it. Listen to The Avenue if you want a push towards the door of opportunity or simply a smile on your face as you go about your day even if your latest crush has crushed you.
The opening track “Half Moon” offers a bit of laid back grunge, some rockabilly in “Kettle Black” while “Ash Wednesday” sounds like a modern touch on chords from the 1950s. And how is the love song “California:” not a single dominating the airwaves? “Used to Call Me Baby” features a nice up-tempo beat and the closer “Truth About You” well, there’s your Chris Isaak.
Lots of loss and heartache on this album but you’d never know it. Check it: On “Ash Wednesday” – Monday Night I had My Doubts/Tuesday We Were on the Outs/Wednesday I got lost in the clouds of the ashes of our love. Or how about on “Kettle Black” – I drove your car around the block past midnight for a spot/And I always catch you making eyes at your exes quite a lot. Then on “Used to Call Me Baby” Cline sings Since you took your love on down the highway/How much you used to call me baby/And I used to call you up every day.
It doesn’t stop there. And the rhythms, so catchy. On every song. How original and perhaps even more scathing to write about lost loves or long lost loves or heart-breaking loves with a noticeable skip in your step.
Every song on The Avenue brings an invigorating guitar that competes and often wins the attention war over the lyrics and might even work as straight up instrumentals at times a la Joe Satriani or Steve Vai. Cline displays a gift to playing and arrangements and if he had as much fun recording as it sounds his live show must simply delight.
Brian Jay Cline – The Avenue Track List:
- Half Moon
- Ash Wednesday
- Kettle Black
- Set You Free
- Used to Call Me Baby
- Charmed to the Teeth
- New Found Lan
- The Avenue
- Truth About You