Brandon Schott has never done a recording that hasn’t sounded good — be it power-pop or a pretty ballad — so there was no doubt or concern that his brand new E.P. Verdugo Park would sound equally pleasing. Comprised of three songs, the extended single acts as entre to a forthcoming full-length, but also nods to the era where pop music, rock, and pop culture became dominant forces and not just eccentric preoccupations.
“Verdugo Park,” the actual song, is short but complicated. From the outset the listener is taken along to the Burbank, CA park that is the song’s subject, on the spirit of “Penny Lane,” but that’s a bit of a red herring. The choruses bust out into a crunchy stomp and then halt. There are tubas, kazoo choirs, and screaming kids, and yet everything is balanced and logical.
Perhaps carrying on the late-60s psyche theme, non-album track “Lapiz Lazuli” mines a vein not unlike “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Closing down at the 2 minute mark, the largely instrumental track (which gets its name from a blue gemstone) sees the swirls of sitar, backward/forward guitar and…accordion (?) set a mood and then head for the door.
“Castaway,” also a non-album track, features a gently strummed ukelele and marimba in the background, pushing Schott’s voice right up in front, as it should be. The song, written by the legendary Sherman Brothers for the ’60s Disney film In Search Of The Castaways, is both a lullaby and somewhat dark in content. I suppose most lullabies are, with all that “down will come baby, cradle and all” business, but in this case given the source material, one is put in the mindset of being lost and hoping to someday find the way back home.
And that is is: six minutes and done. The sum total has the desired effect of making you want to hear more. Curmudgeon that I am, I hope the eventual record will have a few longer tracks to chew on. Yet as an indicator of what is on the horizon, Verdugo Park does what it does well and should make a lot of classic pop fans very happy. Bring on the next round, Brandon.
You can get your own copy of the EP by heading to Brandon Schott’s pre-order page here: www.goldenstatemusic.bandcamp.com