At first I didn’t know what to make of Northland’s Elliot Brown. His claims of alt-country put me off, not being a genre I usually get into too much. But I came away from listening to the album impressed; by his songwriting and arranging, by the depth of his music, and by the experimentation and choices of instrumentation that aren’t usually associated with country music, alt or otherwise.
Right from the choice of opening track, the traditional Cruel Mother, appearing here as a duet with Hariet Ellis and accompanied only by a knitting needle (yes, you read that right, a knitting needle), it was clear that this was going to be something different.
Brown wrote about half the songs on the album, his second as a solo artist, with the rest being traditional tunes arranged by him or written by other country artists. It’s perhaps a credit to his talents as a musician that it’s often difficult to tell the difference between his own compositions and those he has arranged.
His own songs tend towards themes of being down and out, or “general wretchedness” in his own words, and have a blues philosophy behind many of them.
It’s a shame that Road to Destruction has been given such a low key release as it deserves more. It’d be nice to see it repackaged professionally and marketed more widely, but Brown has a strong desire to give his music away, or have people pay what they want for it, meaning that without label backing it will always be a struggle to give his music the treatment it deserves.
Currently Elliot Brown (and The Candy Caps) is a 25 year-old solo recording artist based in Mangawai, Nortland. Influences include Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Tom Paxton, Radio Head, the Pixies, Creedence Clearwater, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Kris Kristofferson, but don’t let his influence by these legends fool you into thinking you’ve heard anything like his craft before. Elliot Brown music fits within several genres, including Modern American Folk, Alternative and Classic Rock, and Modern Alternative Country.
Elliot is a primarily self-taught guitarist and vocalist, receiving his first guitar and lessons from his father at the age of six, and only a few lessons from a professional jazz/classical musician at the age of twelve. Studying a variety of the greatest artists of many disciplines, he has absorbed lessons in classical harmonies from artists such as Bach, vocal harmonies of Brian Wilson, with haunting lyrics inspired by a love of the work of Edgar Allen Poe. He attributes much of his passion to his love of folk and classic country artists, such as Bill Monroe and Hank Williams. Elliot Brown’s music captures the full spectrum of human emotion with his complex melodies and visual lyrics. His talent is self-evident, or as Kim Freiderich of Punk Globe says, “[Elliot is] a man with so much talent that it made me stop and drop what I was doing…I found myself listening to his songs one by one over and over… mesmerized with what I was hearing.” Kim goes on to point out; “You are not signed to a label, which I find quite funny since it’s been a long time since I have heard this much talent.” This is a common response to Elliot's magic. Paul Gallagher of Under the Radar and 95bFM who has played his music “religiously” says, “[He is] one of the more under-appreciated troubadours of New Zealand music, Elliot Brown has been a force of lyrical talent for as long as I have known him”; going on to add, “There has always been a mix of brutally earnest honesty within Elliot's music and a thematic blues folk aesthetic of an Dylan / Bo Diddley / Winston Churchill-speech quoting odyssey.”
Elliot’s debut album Delirium Tremens features 21 songs recorded over the last two years, with samplings from both The Stomps and Elliot Brown and the Candy Caps, recorded by Gundry Audio, and is available for sale at Amazon, download at iTunes and available for sample on his WebPages. Elliot is continuing to compose music, write lyrics and record tracks for his upcoming album, expected to be completed by January of 2011. Currently, Elliot is playing venues based in New Zealand, But with a solid fan base of 27,000 in the USA, is also planning a tour of the United States within the Year.