CD REVIEW: Phillip Brandon - Phillip Brandon (EP)
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Phillip Brandon
CD/EP: Phillip Brandon (EP)
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Pop, Rock, Funk, Soul
Sounds Like: Phillip Bailey, Earth Wind and Fire, Billy Ocean, Bruno Mars
Technical Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Cheesy Cover Art, Dated Sound, EP release.
Phillip Brandon, a native of Los Angeles, CA stands at a modest 6'4". He's the eldest of 3 boys, and the shortest. His music which is a fusion of jazz, funk and rock has been described as "the intersection between Luther Vandross and Bruno Mars." In support of his self-titled debut EP, He is currently ramping up for a regional west coast tour in the Fall of 2014.
The CD kicks things off with melodic “You” a hooky, catchy, passionate guitar driven intro groove with methodical musical build, hooky chorus and emotionally charged vocal finale from Brandon. Track 2 “Sail On” serves up another hooky groove, with melodic musical flow coupled with hooky harmonies and impressive guitar ambience. Track 3 “Turn Around” shifts gears with its hard hitting rock groove, upbeat pop feel meshed with an infectious vocal melody from Brandon that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of Phillip Bailey, Earth Wind and Fire, Billy Ocean, Bruno Mars and I don't really think he sound like Luther Vandross. Right from the start you will notice Brandon feels quite comfortable just letting it all hang out musically, not holding anything back. The overall musical vibe has a nice, melodic poppy, soulful feel to it. The musicianship is rock solid across the board as Brandon and company dish out impressive R&B guitar licks and solos, rock solid rhythm guitar playing, impressive harmonies and well placed keyboard accents. Brandon’s got solid vocal timber and is full of passion and recklessness abandon. He’s got good vocal instincts within each movement he displays an impressive falsetto, good power and an inviting timber throughout. He’s a very capable singer. His vocal style reminds me of a cross between Phillip Bailey (Earth Wind and Fire). and Corey Glover (Living Color). The musicianship from all the other members in the band has everything you would expect from a standard 4 piece rock band. The songs themselves are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair and signature groove. The production quality is adequate but the mix is not as exotic and refined as some of the high end pop you hear on the radio these days From rocking “On My Mind” to Track 5 “My Friend” the perfect finale statement for a EP of this caliber, this release has something for just about everyone.
I’m not a fan of the cover art to be honest. This EP is primarily Pop-Rock based. Brandon’s amazing voice is overqualified for this style of music. I wish I heard Brandon harmonize with himself and dish the other background singers altogether. I keep wanting to hear more Motown, Rhythm and Blues, Soul from Brandon’s voice but again he’s somewhat limited within this particular style. I would advise Brandon incorporate more exotic Pop, Hip/Hop, Electronica, Chill, Dub elements into his music to make it more marketable and mainstream. Kind of like Seal, Calvin Harris and Aloe Blacc. It’s fair to say this production is a bit dated sounding (mix) and needs to be modernized a bit. I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases as well. The Full Length CD is a more complete snapshot to judge an artists by at any given point in time.
In close Phillip Brandon’s debut 5 song EP release is impressive, passionate, poppy, hooky 5 song release from Phillip Brandon’s. If he has a slam dunk live presentation then that would be a deadly combination no doubt. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate and highly entertaining – and clearly prove PB is on to something special. At the end of the day he is a soulful singer/songwriter possessing an infectious pop personality clearly worthy of worldwide recognition. One would be wise to keep a watchful on him over the years to come.