I've come to look at my ever growing record collection as a weird version of a high school yearbook. Lots of familiar faces, lots of memories triggered by opening tracks, and a signature here and there. Last night after 6 years of waiting, I was finally able to add Cory Branan's latest release Mutt to the group. Besides being able to proudly own the vinyl copy of what, in my opinion, is easily his best album to date, I was able to hear his new material performed live. The crowd seemed to positively agree with me in excitement of the new material possibly being played, as a packed Schubas awaited Branan to take the stage.
Besides the crowd screaming song requests at Cory, I enjoyed hearing the two guys standing behind me request songs off his new album, and then scream singing every word. I can only assume by their requests and appearance that they had become familiar with Cory through his recent Revival Tour. For those not familiar, is a tour with several punk rock alumnus started by Chuck Regan of Hot Water Music fame, and included members of Alkaline Trio, The Gaslight Anthem, The Loved Ones and many more. Cory most recently joined the gang on the North American leg of the tour and the crowd welcomed the addition.
After I got over the two behind me I enjoyed Branan’s best set to date. Opening the night with the first track off Mutt,”The Corner,” set the tone for the show. This man is a storyteller, a spastic incredibly talented guitar player, with just enough of self depricatoin and the appropriate balance of whiskey to give you a night of music you won't forget anytime soon. I had been most excited to hear my favorite song off the record, “Survivor Blues,” a song that holds two separate tracks on the album, because Cory wanted it to and he calls the shots. The live version didn’t disappoint: it was a happy middle ground between the first version, a fast paced full band rock, and the later bonus track version, which featured a slow acoustic guitar.
He played “Jericho” by request and his ability to bring it life on stage similiarly to the album only further proved his talent as a musician. The real gem of the night was “Wayward and Down,” when the crowd’s enthusiasm to sing along seemed to even surprise Branan, he stopped singing all together and let us carry it home. Go see this man live. Mutt is an amazing album that will only help him skyrocket, make sure you are along for the ride.
If you do have a chance to check him out, make sure to get there early to catch Audra Mae. I didn’t have a chance to check out her stuff before I left for the show, and I have never been happier to get someplace early. This woman can sing! A perfect female counterpart to Cory, she easily won me over and made me a fan. Reminiscent of Shovel and Rope’s Carey Ann Hearst vocally, she had me smiling ear to ear as I watched her command the stage and audience, who very willing remained silent to absorb every note.