So you’re a casual alcoholic, but you’re worried about your health. You could always crank back a half-dozen White Russians, satisfying your doctor’s request to boost your calcium intake while satisfying the blood-alcohol level you need to get through the day. Or you could live a little and test-drive John Lennon’s favourite cocktail – a curious blend of half-and-half cream, cognac, crème de cacao and nutmeg – while sparking a joint and cranking the debut EP from the Windsor psychedelic rock veterans that share its name.
While they’re not big fans of the drink itself, the six musicians who make up the Brandy Alexanders share a familiar inspiration for their music. “There’s a great story, where Harry Nilsson and John Lennon got wasted on them and were thrown out of a club for heckling this comedy group called the Smothers Brothers in the 70’s,” explains vocalist and primary songwriter Alex Dick. “I know it’s cliché to say this as a band, but The Beatles have been a huge influence on our music.”
He has a point, but very few bands can point to their debut album to make that comparison come naturally. Over just twenty minutes, the band finds themselves in a sonic space somewhere between My Morning Jacket, Sleepy Sun, Tame Impala, and the Fab Four, without feeling like an uninspired cover band at any point. Even from the first listen, it’s hard to believe that the album was recorded in any of the members’ lifespans, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the band since their previous incarnation as Takers & Leavers.
The members have been playing music together for years after growing up together near Leamington, but officially came formed the band six years ago. “Growing up in the County gave us a lot of opportunities,” says bassist Shawn Dawson. “There weren’t a lot of competing bands, and we had lots of chances to play.” Since then, they’ve played everything from cover gigs in dive bars to the Walkerville Theatre, sharing the stage with some of Windsor’s finest bands.
Over the years, their rotating cast of musicians added their own flair to perfect their own brand on psychedelic pop-rock fusion. The current roster - rounded out by Daniel Dick on keys, Andrew Iles and Marshal Buttl on guitar, and Derek Impens on the drums - prove that practice makes perfect by managing to fit their enormous sound into a clean, crisp package without stepping on each other’s toes. There’s no room for divas in a band this big, and years of playing together have allowed them to work out the kinks in their process.
While the band’s penchant for musical synergy is obviously a large part of their sound, the band hopes that fans draw their own meaning and inspiration from the lyrical content of their songs. “This album focuses a lot on the disconnect between the rich and the poor, the people who have power and those who don’t,” explains Dick. “We put a lot of focus on the lyrics, and we hope that people hear that when they listen to it.”
They’re also constantly writing songs, with an arsenal of new material already at their fingertips. “The songs you’re hearing have actually been in our repertoire for a while now,” laughs Buttl. “We have so much material written that hasn’t been recorded yet, but we wanted to get these songs finished first.” They’re focused on continuing to innovate with their sound to avoid being pigeonholed into a single genre, which is admittedly difficult with such a short EP but should make fans even more excited to hear what they’re planning next.
If you managed to fight through the sold-out crowd at their album release show last month at Phog, you’re one of the lucky few who got a glimpse of their funk-filled new tracks alongside a full play-through of their debut EP. If not, never fear – you can head to their Bandcamp page and pick up a copy for yourself, and follow their social media page to make sure you catch their next show. Bands this motivated have a bad habit of picking up and leaving town, so make sure you see them live while you can still afford a ticket.