What to say about this album? Earlier this year seems like a drastically different time, let alone eighteen years ago. I was twenty-two when I started these recordings. Just out of college and working two part-time jobs that provided me with enough income to make rent for a bedroom in a shared apartment on Fourth Avenue in between Brooklyn’s Park Slope and Sunset Park neighborhoods. I had no idea what I was doing—both with my life and with my newly acquired recording gear.
Not that I have a better idea of what I am doing now at the age of 40. As I’ve gotten older, I suppose I’ve grown less concerned with the results my decisions will yield and more interested in the decision-making process. Recording these instrumental tracks in late 2002 and early 2003, I had no expectations as far as results were concerned. I can’t say that I even intended to make an album until it became apparent that the songs were coalescing into something.
Sometime in 1999 or 2000, my friend Mike put on a Mogwai record and I was entranced. I had no idea that instrumental rock music existed, nor that it could be so emotionally resonant. Whether I knew it at the time or not, I had stumbled onto a path. I listened obsessively to like-minded bands such as Do Make Say Thing and Explosions In The Sky. All of this was added to the steady diet of hard bop, free jazz, serialism and other classical music I ingested as a student in NYU’s jazz program, as well as what I remember as almost nightly listens to Eno’s Ambient Music for Airports as I descended into sleep.
Fourth Avenue was my first attempt to make sense of these influences in a recording. Looking back, perhaps writing and recording was also an attempt to process things I did not yet have the emotional tools to handle—entry into adulthood after the bubble of college, fear and uncertainty after 9/11 and expectations of family and friends regarding what I should be doing with my life. Or maybe it was an escape. There is not a tidy redemption story about these songs saving an adrift former version of myself.
As I wrapped up these recordings, I formed a band called New Electric with some of the most talented musicians I have ever had the privilege of playing with. New Electric was my creative focus for the next few years and since there were more barriers to releasing music back then, this album fell by the wayside. It is a treat to hear and release these tracks now, especially after expert mastering by Jeff White (thanks, Jeff!). When I hear these songs, I want to tell my 22 year old self: you’re doing okay and I love you; keep working, take better care of yourself and don’t be afraid to talk to people.
Thanks for listening.
-Brian McBrearty, October 2020
released October 2, 2020
Recorded at home by Brian McBrearty in 2002 and 2003. Additional vocals on "Fourth Avenue" by Keeley MacNamara. Mastered by Jeff White.