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album review: auditorium, be brave

Listening to Be Brave, debut album by Auditorium, was sort of like homework. You know, when you don’t quite understand it in the beginning, go back, check your references, and then you unpeel the layers and it all starts to make sense. But unlike homework, it is hauntingly beautiful.

Critics say they can hear Muse, and call it ‘glam-folk’, referencing the sound of ‘60s band The Zombies, but to my ear it was more of an Elliot Smith/Sufjan Stevens hybrid. A touch of melancholy, with simple instrumentation paired with immaculate production really shows that over the 3 year period it took to piece together, there’s careful thought and emotion behind each chord, chorus and riff.

The man behind the music is Spencer Berger. A music degree from Vassar and a three year stint with the Metropolitan Opera between the ages of 9 and 12 means he is no stranger to performing. This singer/songwriter also wrote the screenplay for Skills Like This, an independent film that won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2007 SXSW festival. No small feat.

The name Be Brave calls upon the bravery that underlies each song. He explains that bravery is essential in order to expose yourself to love, and that “Sometimes I think that the hardest choice you can make is allowing yourself to care”.

His touring band consists of friends, Chris Littler and Justin Hogan, sister Elizabeth,t and girlfriend, Daya Wolterstorff, each with their own musical backgrounds. They toured nationally at the end of 2010, prior to the album release in January this year.
Give it a listen. Sure it’s different, and maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s music that makes you think, and I don’t think that will ever be a ‘bad’ thing.


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