Brian DeRemer’s debut album “Dusty Songs for Children of the Modern Age” is full of “A-sides”


According to liner notes, some low-life SOB stole the master of Brian DeRemer’s Dusty Songs for Children of the Modern Age, along with every copy. Which is enough of a damned shame, except whoever it was did the dastardly deed on, of all possible occasions, the night before Christmas. DeRemer thanks “the musicians, studio owners and music fans of Minneapolis/St. Paul for helping me make this second version.” So does this reviewer. The end result makes for refreshing, highly enjoyable music.

There’s no room to argue: Brian DeRemer is a gifted songsmith with an excellent ear for melody, a very interesting vocalist whose style has underpinnings of Roger McGuinn, Rick Danko and Gin Blossoms’ Robin Wilson (none of which takes anything away from DeRemer’s originality–everybody, no matter how unique, including McGuinn, Danko and Wilson, has something about their sound that’s going to at least vaguely remind you of someone else). Brian DeRemer’s debut (first CD, but, bet dollars to donuts this guy honed his chops slugging it out in the trenches and probably has unreleased stuff laying around his club followers are slobbering over the chance to hear) singularly impresses. There isn’t a cover or co-written song among the lot, yet each number is what us old-timers call an “A-side.”

Dusty Songs for Children of the Modern Age, if it has a category, best fits the alt-rock genre. Moody, richly textured, coming strong from the heart, Dusty Songs for Children of the Modern Age is one of those listening experiences that fascinates, catching your ear, capturing your attention before you finish figuring out just what you like about what you’re hearing. If DeRemer has stage presence, his live shows are barn burners and, accordingly, he’s headed for prominence.

“Young Love is Getting Old” leads the album off beautifully. Heralding the handsome, full-bodied production (by DeRemer and Eric Lovold, who engineers) that characterizes this disc, it’s immediately haunting. An upbeat, driving cut, mellow around the edges, a perfect calling card. It also is indicative of the sole drawback to Dusty Songs for Children of the Modern Age. With music this remarkable, it borders on maddening to catch intriguing snips and snaps of gorgeously cynical, damned near existential lyrics and not be able to open the insert and read what you’re listening to. Point in case, take the chorus to “Small D”: “You can’t go back/you can’t go back/the way is paved/the cards are stacked.” What follows next is hard to make out. Leaving you to wonder just what other gems he’s dropping on you. So, as a singer, the guy isn’t consistently articulate. Take him to court: As an artist he gets to you.

Personnel, backing DeRemer on guitar: Tim Greenwood (keys), Mark Lynch (drums), Jimmy Osterholt (bass) with Lovold on keys and guitar, Chris Koza (backup vocs, Mark Schwandt (percussion) and DJ House (guitar).

You’d have to steal more than hours of studio work to derail Brian DeRemer. As represented by Dusty Songs for Children of the Modern Age, you’d have to snatch his soul. Wouldn’t count on that happening. He’s that strong.