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Braun And Brain Music Presents - Next Wave: Undiscovered Hits From an Imaginary Radio Station
By Mark Kirby
(more articles from this author)
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Remember the future? When radio stations turned their back on niche marketing and began to give us listeners what we knew we wanted all along? When, much like in eras past, popular music meant quality, with something for the mind, the heart, the soul and the libido? Well, Braun and Brains Music presents - Next Wave! A compilation of hits from around the world, musically and literally. This record has all the hits, from the shit-kickin' roadhouse country of MiniMal's "Crescent City" and Aussie sensation Megan Laurie's "Light at the End of the Bottle," to the neogoth "Nice Day (For a Murder)" by Morgan and jazzy pop neoclassics like "Cystallize" by Norine Braun. And there's more . . .

And then I woke up - or did I? Today's dream can be tomorrow's reality and Norine Braun, founder of Braun and Brains Music, and the other artists on the Next Wave compilation are making it happen. This CD, twenty cuts from an international roster of artists, proves what this writer has always maintained - that there is excellent music in any and all genres. Like Mick Jagger said back in the day, it's the singer not (just) the song. Ms. Braun seems to think so, too.

Her label started as a way to promote and distribute her own music, but the mission grew. Now it is a repository of diverse talent, and, while most CDs of this type stick to one musical style and keep a local focus, Braun and Brain Music have chosen the opposite approach. "I wanted to find and promote the best in unique and imaginative unsigned music to the world," says Ms. Braun. And she does mean the world. The performers come from Sweden, Los Angeles, CA, Stillwater, MN, and Bulgaria, among other places.

The forms and styles on the record include jazz pop, goth, old school country, New Wave (Greg Summerlin), Glam rock, circa 1972 (ecb), electro pop and clash (david z, Liliput). Rock is represented by Marwood, from New York, and the dynamic power songstress Vougeot, from Stillwater, whose vocal style is an unlikely mix of Joan Jett and Kelly Clarkson.

Tracy Stark proves to be a mistress of the creamy jazz ballad on "Morning Light." There's also a retro '80s funk rock number, Raymond Fiore's "Spin The Wheel," hip hop soul from Flow, a female vocal group, and a guitar opus by Dave Hart called "No. 5."

What is the concept behind this completely diverse collection of music? "The concept is that good music transcends borders and genres," she states, "and that most people are sophisticated listeners able to embrace a broad range of styles if the songs are presented with a certain flow in mind. I treated the album with the idea of making a great mix or greatest hits yet to be discovered."

How were the artists chosen? "Given the opportunities that exist with the internet, I thought I would attempt a global approach. They were selected because the songs stand out in that they have all the elements of a great composition, such as outstanding and brilliant melodies, poetic and thoughtful lyrics, excellent and intriguing productions. The songs are brimming with intense emotional expressions, polished, heartfelt performances and authenticity. Most of all they moved me in some way." Ms. Braun runs the label with the philosophy that a collective of passionate artists can collectively get their music out into the world.

Not surprisingly, her eclecticism started with her upbringing and early exposure to music.

Katrina Parker
[Kirby] What music did you listen to in your home when you were a child and what inspired you as you later in life?

[Norine Braun] All kinds of music! My parents listened to old country like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, the gospel of Mahalia Jackson, Hawaiian Music, Percy Faith, Nat King Cole, and Elvis. My siblings, who were considerably older than me, were into Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Queen, Jimi Hendrix. As a kid I listened to everything pop like the Jackson 5, Anne Murray, AC DC, Connie Francis, Marvin Gaye, Donna Summer, Blondie, Bette Midler, Janis Ian, James Taylor, The Pretenders and Yaz, to name a few.

I love any and all kinds of music that stirs me emotionally. My mother told me that as a toddler I would dance and sing to the Beatles, Elvis, and the Pinnochio soundtrack. In my late teens and early twenties I was inspired by Stevie Wonder, kd lang, Joan Armatrading, Debussy, and Colin James. Currently, all the artists on Next Wave and our first compilation, The Independents , fuel the passion! I also listen to all formats on radio and critique artists. This year I was a judge for the Outmusic Awards in NYC.

[Kirby] What are the backgrounds of the artists on the compilation?

Holly Figueroa
[Norine Braun] The common denominator is that all songs performed are also the original work of the artist or band performing them. The backgrounds are as diverse as the styles. Morgan is classically trained in opera, cello and piano yet chooses a goth approach that is irresistible. David Z's music is successfully utilized in commercials, theater and television. Vougeot is a 2-time grand prize winner of the Great American Song Contest, a powerhouse vocalist and a violinist for the Minnesota Symphony. ecb toured with grammy nominees Los Bacilos and is now a bartender by day who creates wonderful compositions at home.

Tracy Stark has a background as a musical director, is an award winning musician and sought after session player in NYC. Dave Hart is a guitar master and all the sounds in his song are from the guitar's hexaphonic synth pick up ( a guitar synthesizer). Megan Laurie, originally from Australia, was the only person in her country to ever win the trifecta Champion of Champions. MINiMAL's Donald McCrea is the writer and singer of the group. He was formally trained as a composer and has now written more than 600 songs that have appeared on records by such artists as Maria Muldaur, Marty Balin and Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen.

[Kirby] You mention in your Next Wave press info that you offer creative promotional opportunities to your acts. What are some of those opportunities and strategies?

[Norine Braun] Primarily our focus is on the promotional opportunity of the compilation CD. We do offer consultation and direction with projects or artists. We help them define the process of recording and how to DIY. In these sessions I ask an artist to think about the following ideas when starting out on a recording project:

Design: The practical side of the great philosophical question. Who am I? In the design process you need to show people who you are. As an artist this is based predominantly on your sound, the kinds of songs you play or write, your voice, your movement and how you look. You may have a message or point of view that is uniquely yours.

Norrine Braun
Production and Recording: Your voice, songs or instrument is your art. So now the question is who will help you record and create this evolving vision? The producer. What is a producer's job? It's making sure that the artist is comfortable and that the final result meets their expectations. It's helping the artist focus and coaching them to give their best performance. It's being aware of current markets and styles, and making the song work in that context, while never losing sight of what is magical and unique about the song.

Manufacturing: The album is finished, it's been an amazing experience and you are so proud and excited. Now you will need artistic and creative packaging that represents the sonar experience people will take when they listen to your brilliant earth shaking album!

Promotion: The CD's arrived and are ready for the road! You will need to consider: a website, business cards, one sheets, bios, photos, a letterhead, electronic press kits, newsletters, swag, handbills, posters, email lists, CD samplers, radio, press reviews, showcase opportunities, venues and touring.

The experience that the listener will have is one of constant surprise at the quality of music herein, even in genres and styles that one may never have thought of as having the capacity to provide inspiration and emotional substance.

Related News from Mi2N:
» Braun And Brains Music Riding High Tide With Next Wave CD

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