I met Andy Chase during my radio days back in Texas when he was promoting Ivy's great album Apartment Life. I'm sure he doesn't remember hanging out at the random bar where this meet-and-great was taking place, but I distinctively remember chatting with him and his wife/Ivy member Dominique Durand about how amazing Radiohead's OK Computer was. It seems that Chase has had some extra musical urges that didn't quite fit with Ivy, so he launched his solo side-project under the name Brookville.
In The Shade marks the sophomore album from Brookville, released on his own Unfiltered Records. He recorded the album at NYC's Stratosphere Sound, the studio he co-owns with Adam Schlesinger (Ivy, Fountains Of Wayne) and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins). The chill sounds of this lush album come partially from co-producer Cyril Moisson, as well as the great mixing by Steve Osborne (New Order, Doves).
The album begins with "Blue Morning", a light pop tune backed by acoustic guitars and a really nice string arrangement. This is the type of song you want to hear during a spring shower, not too upbeat yet far from a downer. Chase pushes it a bit further into the world of chilled out electro with "Afraid To Fall", bringing to mind the slower tracks from Everything But The Girl or New Order. He walks that fine line of electronic music and traditional pop perfectly.
One of the biggest surprises on Life In The Shade is Chase's choice of covers. He selected The The's "Slow Emotion Replay", which is a pretty brave move in my opinion. You can't compare Brookville to The The, especially on Dusk. I mean, you've got Matt Johnson's voice and Jonny Marr's harmonica/guitar, so this was a bold tune to cover. Brookville's rendition is much brighter than the original, stripping away the gloom and leaving behind the pop melody, reminding me of what a damn good song this is. Hopefully this might encourage a few not familiar with The The to check them out.
Up next is the radio single, "Golden", and is easily one of the album's strongest tracks. Again, the New Order comparisons are impossible to avoid. The use of a trumpet rather than a lead guitar in the chorus was a cool move as well. "Up On The Wire" is another one of my favorites, using strings and trumpet to add plenty of color to this cinematic track. It is a bit Floyd yet a bit Coldplay, but in a good way. I promise!
Brookville's great sophomore album falls into a category that I call intelligent alternative. Radio programmers should take a note from me on this one. You are missing a huge demographic of people who want interesting new tunes, yet don't want to suffer through the generic rock rubbish that clogs our airwaves. Artists like Andy Chase are giving you plenty of pop greatness to work with, so get with it!