I think the best ones are located a mile or so out of town. Far enough that no one complains about the noise, but close enough you can still get home after, well, whatever. Budweiser and Miller are the Premium options at the bar and food comes from the microwave or deep fryer. I’m talking about the small-town, date-night or drown-your-sorrows, perfect-for-all-occassions, honky-tonk. L.A. drummer & vocalist Brandon Goldstein, under the nom de guerre Darlin’ Brando, has released his debut album as a sort of homage to those places.
About half the songs on the record seem built for two-stepping around the dance floor. When You Don’t Fight features Goldstein’s wife, Edith Freni, on vocals in heartfelt support of the notion that being open with your feelings helps relationships. Piling on to the idea, Crumbling Marriages brags about how well things are going in the face of failures by their friends. Year One celebrates an anniversary with some serious rhythm and again features Edith.
Brando gets nearly frantic with Last Call, a roots rocker about the sudden realization that the evening is over unless you figure out something in a hurry. It features A.J. Croce on the piano channeling Jerry Lee Lewis. Therapy is a light-hearted admission of fear, albeit of a very modern apparition. The Old Man and the Kid is more of a ballad about a chance encounter between two people who’ve had their share of troubles.
Also, Too… is a really nice summer record. No critic is going to deem it Important. You won’t marvel at the layers and layers of sound. You will hear some damn fine songs written by someone who’s learned a lot from life. They’re all set to a beat perfect for a trip around the dance floor, be that your living room or the outdoor patio of your nearest saloon.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.