Leaving Home

Brown Derby Junction

Independent release, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I wouldn't say that I get swamped with independent releases here at the home office of "The Daily Vault," but I get enough to keep me in tune with what is happening in the music scene. While I try to see the good in every disc, there are a few that are just utter dreck; unfortunately, these experiences can sometimes scare me off of checking out other unsigned bands.

I've had Leaving Home, the debut from Brown Derby Junction, sitting around now for about two months, and I just never seemed to have the time to get to it. But when I did, what I heard astounded me. Here was swing and big band music being played the way that is was meant to be. And if that isn't shocking enough, would you believe this band is a group of high school kids?

Yeah, I know, it sounds unbelievable. But then, you haven't heard the music on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Leaving Home. The band - which includes guitarist/vocalist Seth B. Dubin, vocalist Jenna Eisenhauer, and guitarist/vocalist Zach Bailey - approaches this music with a maturity far beyond their years, and outdoes even the leading purveyors of this genre - including Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

If you don't find yourself out of the barcalounger and up dancing to tracks like "Mr. Town" and "Brown Derby Junction," you'd better have your pulse checked. The band (who perform all originals - again, amazing that they stay so close to the bone of the original style) is filled with energy and enthusisam, and you can't help but catch some of that.

What adds the right touch to Leaving Home is the horn section of Jonny Pinkerton (alto & soprano sax / trumpet), Ryan Wolfgang (trumpet - and drums on one track) and Alec Spiegelman (tenor sax / clarinet). Their subtle yet powerful brass and woodwind work make you feel like you're sitting in a speakeasy in the '20s, enjoying some of the best music of the time. If I hadn't taken the time to read the songwriting credits, I would never have believed that these were modern-day compositions... that's how talented this band is.

Tracks like "Marylou" (which is described in the liner notes as "a day in the life of Al Capone's girlfriend"), "Sancho", "Nothin' To Say" and "New Orleans Rag" all do nothing to diminish the absolute power and mastery of the genre that Brown Derby Junction has.

If there is any weakness on this disc, I would have liked for the master volume to have been cranked up a couple of notches. I listened to this on the CD-ROM unit of my computer - and while the volume was at full blast, I got an e-mail message, causing the voice of Austin Powers to smash my eardrums into oblivion. Either the master volume needs to be adjusted on this disc, or I need to stop using my computer as a stereo.

Leaving Home is a disc that will not only renew any interest you may have in swing or big band (it just might even get you interested in this genre), but it will reaffirm the belief that the youth of today are not all interested in Marilyn Manson or other noise the older generations can't tolerate or appreciate. Here's hoping this band doesn't remain a Pennsylvania secret for much longer.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.