Local Record Review: Brook Lee Catastrophe from Long Beach

Beat Blvd. is Heard Mentality's weekly review of local releases. If you're an OC musician or band with something new to offer--vinyl single, full length album, CD, cassette--we want to hear from you! Send copies, along with any photos and PR material, to Beat Blvd., c/o OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Suite 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. You can also e-mail us digital downloads at lbose@ocweekly.com.

The Brook Lee Catastrophe
American Hotel
Long Beach's Brook Lee Catastrophe are breaking a three year silence with a pair of albums this year--the first, the recently released American Hotel, is described as "the soundtrack to the night of your life."

 Which works perfectly well if one prefers one's bars dark and moody and the streets outside to be swathed in fog: the unashamedly roots-oriented sound of the band, as beholden to both classic rock and post-punk passion as the Arcade Fire is, is also not out to deliver cheery pep.

Lee's portraits of wounded souls on songs like "Walking Backwards" and the general performance of the band is agreeable enough (George Madrid's blistering solo on "Shades of Grey" deserves notice, it's near-David Gilmour levels of melancholic rage) but the key emotional element of the group comes courtesy of Paul Mitchell's lush violin work, perhaps showcased best on "Not Your Pharmacy" where it ranges from tense thriller movie tones to sweeping romanticism, matched equally well by his piano work. 

It provides both a clear sonic stamp throughout and elevates the album's best moments to a higher level--if their second album this year, Motel Americana, lives up to "the cold morning after" description, it'll be mesmerizing to hear how he and Lee create that feeling.


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