Frank Brown

Out of the Blue

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Although Frank Brown is not well known nationally, the singer/songwriter has enjoyed his share of attention on the Philadelphia music scene -- first with the band Flight of Mavis in the early '90s, subsequently with Buzz Zeemer. Brown has long had a knack for tuneful, jangly guitar pop, and that continues to be true on his solo project Out of the Blue. In a press release, Record Cellar described this 2005 release as "Frank Brown's fifth CD," but Out of the Blue isn't his fifth solo album -- it is only his first solo album. Brown's pre-Out of the Blue activities for Record Cellar consisted of two Flight of Mavis albums and two Buzz Zeemer albums. Stylistically, this 37-minute CD is not a major departure for Brown; as a solo artist, he still favors a melodic roots rock/Americana outlook. And the influences that have served the Philadelphian well in the past -- Joe Jackson, the Byrds, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, among others -- continue to serve him well on hooky, well-crafted songs like "You Don't Know What You Started," "She Just Wants to Be Loved," and the melancholy "Heartbreak Motel" (as opposed to "Heartbreak Hotel," which was the title of both an Elvis Presley hit in the '50s and a totally different gem that was a hit for the Jacksons in 1980). The word melancholy not only describes "Heartbreak Motel"; it also describes "Always Down," "Don't Say You Never," and several other tunes on this often world-weary CD. Out of the Blue is hardly the most cheerful or optimistic release of 2005, but then, melancholia is certainly a valid emotion in rock -- Nirvana's Nevermind and many other consequential albums were fueled by darker emotions. And melancholia often works to Brown's creative advantage on this enjoyable solo effort.

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