Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Her first two albums feature a sometimes bluesy contemporary folk that's been described as Anti-folk or Punk-Folk. Subsequent albums have featured a meshing of alternative rock, folk/rock, and spoken word.
Most recent release, Seven Laws of Gravity (2010)
Brenda Kahn's site
The witty and poetic lyrics in her best work remind some of Bob Dylan or Ani Difranco. She's shifted styles a lot as well; her electric and harder material is reminiscent of Shirley Manson of Garbage, Patti Smith, Liz Phair, or possibly Hole, while her very quiet recent album reminds some of Kristin Hersh's solo work. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Writes her own material; I once heard her do a cover of an old blues song for a sound check, but that's the only one I know of.
Epiphany in Brooklyn is certainly is a good choice, though i don't know if i would put in my desert island list. her first album, Goldfish Don't Talk Back is fantastic. i almost like it as much as Epiphany in Brooklyn. I was less than thrilled with Destination Anywhere. Definitely track down her first album though. fully worth it! i used to be a huge fan, back during her "anti-folk" period. my fave being Epiphany in Brooklyn followed closely behind by her debut Goldfish Don't Talk Back. i was disappointed with Destination Anywhere and never bothered to pick up Outside the Beauty Salon because of that. Hunger though sounds rather interesting. (email@example.com)
Comments about live performance:
Brenda Kahn was a treat to see since I've been a big fan of her Epiphany in Brooklyn CD for years and this was the first time I've been able to see her. Most of her fans there, like me, seemed to be most familiar with the songs from that album. Anyway there were lots of requests for songs from that album and she pretty much played all of them, including mine for "In Indiana". She even managed to get in a song or two from her setlist from time to time. :-) Anyway she was fantastic, and had a harder edge to her music that I didn't remember from the album. Very nice! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recommended first album:
Epiphany in Brooklyn, or possibly Goldfish Don't Talk Back
Goldfish Don't Talk Back
1990—Community 3 Records—Re-issued by Through Being Cool in 1997 (P.O. Box 1460, NY, NY, 10009)
Hard to find in record stores. Order directly from Brenda Kahn's official website
this album is fantastic. i almost like it as much as Epiphany in Brooklyn. (email@example.com)
Epiphany in Brooklyn
The only Brenda Kahn album that had a full domestic release. It sold 25,000 copies, and can be found in most better record shops, and a few pop up in used CD stores fairly often. It can also be ordered from Brenda Kahn's official website
David Kahne, Brenda Kahn
I own well over 600 CDs, and Epiphany in Brooklyn is my favorite. And there's nothing even close. Brenda Kahn is the finest lyricist in the world. The poetry and images still ring true with every listen, even four years after I first heard the album. "She's in Love", the brilliant "Mint Juleps and Needles", the tortured "My Lover", the sublime "Mojave Winters", desperate "Madagascar", "In Indiana", "Sleepwalking"...this album is full of classics. Kahn speaks from the underbelly of society here, but she does it in a way that makes it deeply personal for anyone listening. It's angry and full of angst, but sly and funny throughout. A superb album that any fan of superb lyrics. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1996—released on Shanachie Records—SHA-5708
Jeff Buckley on "Faith Salons"
Though very different from her earlier work, I still consider Destination Anywhere to be a great album. It's based mainly on the strength of five songs right in the middle that couldn't be more different from each other and represent the eclecticism that this album embodies. Starting with the decidedly punk "Spoon," in which Kahn sounds like Courtney Love (Hole), we see Kahn's still vivid—but this time hilarious—lyrics embarking on a whole new sound. "Faith Salons," co-written with the great Jeff Buckley, who also sings backup, is beautiful and haunting. Spoken in a hushed whisper, the song is unlike anything I've ever heard and fully satisfying. "Yellow Sun" could have been a radio hit, and its poppy-alternative-rock sounds like a choice cut from a Garbage album (but they don't have lyrics like this!). Vinny Dombrowski of Sponge adds some able backing vocals to "Too Far Gone," which is funny and sad and has some great metaphors. Last and certainly not least is "Night," which features Kahn in Patti Smith mode, poeticizing and ranting about a lonely waitress. The song moves from an easy rock jive and climaxes with a desperate wail against "the man". The rest of the album might be a little uneven, and it's hard not to miss the acoustic sounds of Epiphany in Brooklyn, but the gems and joys of this album should not be ignored. (email@example.com)
Outside the Beauty Salon
Some good record and online stores, also available from Brenda Kahn's official web site
Tim Patalan, Brenda Kahn
This is more continuation of Brenda Kahn in alternative rock mode. I prefer her acoustic, but thought Destination Anywhere was really great in places. Kahn's waltzy types of songs, "Heather", the lovely "I Believe in You", and "Alice" are the gems here. They're kind of chirpy blues, and I loved the irony in them They're all produced by Tim Patalan, who produced about half of the tracks here. The other half, produced by Kahn herself, tended to be darker. Sometimes this is used to great effect, as in "Hey Romeo," and sometimes they seem tired as "Matador". Not tired as in dull, but tired as in drained. Brenda's vocals sound tired here at time, like she's too drained to fight back at all the desolation. I miss the fight that we had in her previous albums. Still, this doesn't pervade; there are some really great moments here. My favorite is the quasi-love song "Guillotine," which features some spot-on images and hilarious lines. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1998—Rocket 99 (Brenda Kahn's own label)
Currently only available from Brenda Kahn's official web site
It's all very spare compared with her earlier work, but it's more of a return to her acoustic roots than her previous two albums (Outside the Beauty Salon and Destination Anywhere). It took a while to grow on me, but Hunger is now one of my favorite Brenda Kahn albums. I think the best tracks are the title track, "Hunger", "Dictaphone", and "Sidestep the Bullet". The latter one is very sad, making me think it was about Jeff Buckley.
Brenda Kahn appeared on a compilation called Lach's Antihoot: Live...At Sidewalk Cafe. The CD features a lot of anti-folk artists performing live songs. Brenda's contribution is "Grout," which is a fantastically hilarious song. Not one that gets by on its lyrical strength, it succeeds with the intense strength of Kahn's performance. It's a real hoot to listen to, and a must for all Kahn fans. Available at online stores.
Thanks to Mark Miazga for work on this entry.
DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.
|Entry last updated 2011-05-04 17:55:31.
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