by Torrey Proto (@torreysbrewin)
The ever shifting gaze and sonic pallet of Drexel Hill, PA's Brandon Ayres as Brandon Can't Dance provides plenty of thrills on his newest full length and first out on a label. Released on Lucky Number Music, the wonderfully titled and hilariously covered Graveyard of Good Times succeeds in carrying Ayres' growing momentum by polishing up his sound for a wider audience not yet familiar with his wonderfully weird and extensive back catalog while not sacrificing any of his unique aesthetic that got people interested in the first place.
A sixteen song effort, Graveyard is rarely content with focusing on one thing for too long. Ayres tackles a variety of themes and styles from cover to cover. Ayres' aversions to cohesion along with his usual dynamic instrumentation make for pleasant surprises upon each listen. He is equally happy to indulge in bass heavy funk on the irresistible "Smoke & Drive Around," abrasive electronics and noise on the standout "So Deep, So Tortured, So Freak" as he is to explore intimate folk balladry on tracks like "Freak of the Freaks" and the haunting "Angelina." The sheeny pop of “Pop Queen of the Teen Scene” finds Ayres flexing in his upper register on its satisfying chorus. No matter the style, he is able to coax endlessly creative instrumentals from seemingly homemade electronics and loops filled in with enough live instrumentation to pack a punch on more energetic tracks when needed.
While he takes his art seriously, Ayres never takes himself too seriously and it's his relatable, simple, and often humorous lyrical style that makes his songs memorable. He sings of pizza, watching bands play, smoking behind a church on a Friday night, and even pokes fun at himself and the blandness of rock on "Rock is Dead". Despite his funny musings, he proves that existential dread is never too far around the corner from a good time: "I feel numb inside and I don't care / if the bomb goes off I'd sit back in my chair," he sings on closer "Believe in Fear." It's these fragile revealing moments where Ayres lets us into his head that really shine through the busy arrangements and stick long after the record's conclusion.
While his style is not for everyone, Ayres seems disinterested in appealing to the masses. The restlessly charming and vibrant world of Graveyard is admirable in its pursuit of diversity. Brandon Ayres proves to be a nifty and capable songwriter with plenty of tricks up his sleeve that deserve to be heard by a wider audience. Graveyard of Good Times is a unique success for an emerging songwriter that's just scratching the surface of his potential.