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article by: Michael Canter

22 April 2012

CD Review - Late Night EP by Brandon McHose

“In Late Night EP McHose has evolved into an artist who is not afraid to combine what he knows with who he is becoming. His ability to shred and capture a more aggressive tone with this album has illustrated what he is trying to accomplish. Because he is able to maintain the attitude that he is a guitar player first even before being a singer and songwriter, attests to the passion he has for his craft. Brandon McHose is going to be an artist to watch.” 
~ Muzic Reviews

Release Date: 10-January-2012
Genre:  Rock / Acoustic Rock /Power Pop
Publisher: [c] 2012 Brandon McHose
Label: Brandon McHose
Time: 14m 04s
Review Date: 22-April-2012
Format: CD
Jivewired Press Kit:  http://jivewired.com/brandonmchose

Find it at:

Artist Website | iTunes | Amazon

Track Listing:

01. Late Night 3:06
02. Next 3 4:18
03. Leave It All 3:28
04. Just Say When 3:12


With a growing fan base, excellent live shows and a new EP that shows genuine promise, Chicago's Brandon McHose has carved a nice niche for himself as an emerging artist in the indie music world.  The strength of Late Night is the song Just Say When, a great acoustic rock number with a tight but spirited acoustic and jazz guitar coaction that really show's Brandon's expertise.  McHose has pumped up the muscle on this release, as the singer/songwriter has evolved from a sensitive, acoustic-country act into a more robust, all-around performer  by adding elements of rock, blues and power pop into the mix.  The Late Night EP is a tremendous leap forward for this up and coming artist.

Track 1 - Late NightLate Night has a classic late-night southern rock and blues feel to it, along the lines of something by Exile or Atlanta Rhythm Section, but this is neither pastiche or homage.  Immediately you'll notice great guitar work, which is definitely the strength of this song.  Vocally, McHose stays within his range and rarely pushes the envelope, but that's okay.  His vocals are more than adequate.  But, this is guitar-driven rock, and a statement that McHose is serious about leaving the sensitive singer/songwriter stereotype behind.  A great way to kick off an EP if you want to make a statement.  If you are a fan of the work by legendary blues guitarist Gary Moore you will definitely like this song quite a bit. 

Track 2 - Next 3Next 3 is the most pop-driven number on this EP, and features invigorating guitar solos and bridgework by McHose.  There's a soulful feel to the song and a lot of energy.  More alternative rock than country, Next 3 has a heavy power pop feel to it.  But again, it's the guitar work of McHose that does all the talking, and the closing guitar solo is definitely the best 90-seconds on the entire disc.  It's not just good, it's a devastatingly great guitar solo, one that inspires countless air guitarists in a live setting I'm sure.  That's the signature of any great power-pop song.

Track 3 - Leave It All:  Another classic rock type number, but not as strong as the other three songs on this EP.  It's a little too formulaic for my tastes and a tad repetitive lyrically.  But there are highlights and again, you guessed it, it is the solo guitar work of Brandon McHose.  There's a lot of percussion going on and a very heavy bass line, and the song gets a little busy at times.  Perhaps McHose wanted to give his band a chance to shine a little and that's okay.  Don't get me wrong, they're decent musicians, but there is just a little overkill here.  In summation, Leave It All could use a little more Brandon and a little less engagement from the supporting cast.  As a listener, I just kept waiting for McHose to erupt, and the fact that that eruption is slightly minimal (one, short guitar solo) generates a little disappointment.  The song is not bad by any means, I just think it could have been so much more.

Track 4: Just Say When:  This is the highlight of Late Night and my favorite song on the EP.  Just Say When follows the blueprint for the perfect summer song; that is, it paints a vivid picture of open windows, hazy L.A. sunsets and beachfront fire pits.  Just Say When most assuredly has a more intimate feeling than any of the other songs, and here McHose puts the entire pop/acoustic crossover package together in perfect unison.  Understated acoustic and jazz guitar play splendidly off each other, and McHose is strongest vocally here as well.  The song builds to a wonderful crescendo and fades out leaving you wanting much, much more - the hope that the closing guitar solo, which is stunningly masterful, could go on for a minute or two longer -- it's that good.  Just Say When already feels like a classic, and maybe, just maybe, provides enough warmth to make summer last all year long. 

About Brandon McHose:

Brandon McHose looks at the five dynamic years he spent on the scene in Austin as something of a “musical grad school” where he developed his chops as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer. High-tailing it back to his home region of the Midwest, the Des Moines native chose Chicago for a batch of exciting new career opportunities and never looked back.

Since hitting “The Big Windy” in 2010, the multi-talented artist has headlined at the Hard Rock Cafe, Double Door, Taste of River North Festival and the House of Blues Foundation Room, in addition to creating successful residencies for himself in neighborhood venues (like the Citizen Room) that had never had music before. While his sizzling guitar sound and powerhouse live performances have earned him hundreds of fans throughout the city, Chicago’s thriving indie music scene is also a springboard for McHose’s latest touring endeavors along the I-35 corridor, which stretches from Northern Minnesota through his home region of Central Iowa down to Southern Texas.

McHose launched his recording career with two well received acoustic based full length albums helmed by big name producers. Life Eclipse (2007) was produced by Chris Maresh, who currently plays with Eric Johnson; the set featured famed keyboardist Riley Osbourne, who once played with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band Double Trouble. Token (2008) was produced by Michael Ramos, a onetime member of The BoDeans whose credits include John Mellencamp and Los Lonely Boys. These two indie releases set the stage for the explosive new, electric guitar driven sound he unveils on his new four track EP Late Night.  Two of the tracks are already impacting multiple radio formats; “Next 3” recently hit the Triple AAA format and the title track “Late Night” is in rotation on many college radio stations.

Combining the melodically infectious, lyrically insightful vibe of classic singer/songwriters (James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon) with a Santana/Beck/Van Halen-like ability to shred, McHose has evolved into a multi-faceted artist in the tradition of his chief influences Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Jimi Hendrix and—straight-from-his-country-phase Vince Gill and Brad Paisley.

McHose attributes the inspiration of the vibrant, high-energy, classic rock influenced “Late Night” — a chronicle of a well traveled rocker’s ups and downs on the road to two other legends: “I wanted it to be a combination of a cool Sublime song mixed with Tom Petty.”   The track features one of the singer’s favorite Austin drummers, Wayne Salzman, who has played with Eric Johnson and Steve Miller.

“Next 3” is another sizzling, electric guitar driven rocker, jangling along the road with featuring McHose’s soaring vocals as the singer reflects on the challenges of the past three years and looks forward to exciting, less stressful adventures in the future.

A straightforward, “getting over the negatives of the last relationship” tune, “Leave It All Behind” adds a bed of dense percussion to the hard rocking mix and includes one of McHose’s most passionate electric solo spots.

The closing track “Just Say When” combines the best of both of the singer/guitarist’s worlds; it’s a mid-tempo ballad driven by the acoustic sound that defined his earlier songs but includes a cool, subtle electric guitar harmony line and a powerful solo that has what he calls “a Larry Carlton/Skunk Baxter” flavor towards the end of the track.

“The producers I worked with on my first two albums liked my sound,” McHose says, “because they thought I had a unique style on acoustic guitar that was not bland and typical of most singer/songwriters.  Acoustic was the right niche for me for a while, but I’ve gotten a lot stronger vocally over the past few years and that has made my voice more compatible with songs with electric guitar. A lot of my earlier songs could have been stronger had I taken that approach. All along, I wanted to transcend being pigeonholed as yet another acoustic based singer. The idea behind the four tracks on Late Night was to showcase my work on the electric and emerge with a whole different aggressive tone, with a lot of rough edges compared to my older material. For most singer/songwriters, the guitar is a secondary tool to enhance their songs. I like to think of myself as a guitar player first — but one who is lucky enough to be able to use it in the context of writing strong songs that connect emotionally with listeners.”

Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, Brandon McHose was introduced to the guitar by his father, once an aspiring guitarist himself. That’s a common story, a parent sharing passion with a child, but the guitar McHose his dad used to teach him, a '74 Les Paul, makes the history just a bit more extraordinary. His father’s eclectic music collection introduced the young musician to legends like The Beatles, Stones and The Who, but McHose says the reason he began playing more seriously was the solo he saw Joe Walsh do on VH1, in a clip from when he was with The Eagles. He went through a lot of “guitar god” phases — Hendrix, Stills, Knopfler, Atkins, Gill, Paisley — all the while gravitating towards great singer/songwriters like Sting and 90s rockers like Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

McHose’s equal passion and skill in track and field earned him a full scholarship to Drake University, but he left after one year to ponder his musical future. His family sought professional advice by meeting with the Assistant Chair of the Guitar Department at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston. After McHose auditioned, the professor’s professional opinion was that his skill and talent levels were far beyond that of a typical student; he recommended that the best road for him was not four years in college but to embark immediately on his career.

McHose took this advice and chose Austin, Texas as the perfect environment to hone his craft. While making the connections necessary to launch his recording career, he worked his way up to playing live four nights a week, performing at such venues as The Saxon Pub and Threadgill’s.

“It’s easy to get comfortable in Austin, but there’s also the feeling that you can get to a certain plateau and stay there,” he says. “Since it’s a college town, a lot of the fans artists make eventually move away, so it’s hard to develop a consistent career. I felt that moving to a major market like Chicago would be a great step forward, not only because of the many opportunities to perform in the city and surrounding area, but also because it’s centrally located, close to my hometown of Des Moines and a great centrally located base to tour from."

“That’s really where the excitement happens,” McHose adds, “up there onstage. I love feeling the energy from the crowd and trying new things with the songs and with my guitar every night. I never play written solos and I like to try different spontaneous arrangements and segues into songs. I have done hundreds of acoustic gigs, and don’t mind mixing it up, but I have the most fun now playing live with my band. I can pull out my electric and really let loose.”

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