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EchoBrain: EchoBrain

Why would ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted choose to align himself with a talented but no-name drummer and his equally talented and unknown guitar-playing buddy to make evocative and intriguing alterna-pop that has nothing in common with his old band? Apparently, just for the sheer hell of it. Newsted met singer/guitarist Dylan Donkin and drummer Brian Sagrafena (both considerably younger players) in early 1995 at a Super Bowl party, and - five years later - wound up recording what eventually became EchoBrain's independently released self-titled debut.

EchoBrain is not a mini-Metallica. Not even close. In fact, EchoBrain could be the anti-Metallica. Poppy acoustic guitars; angst-driven part-Chris Cornell, part-Jeff Buckley vocals; and a rhythm section that often showcases Sagrafena's jazz and funk influences more than Newsted's metal roots characterize this moody record. The band shares collective writing credits on all 10 songs here, and among the highlights are the upbeat opener "Colder World," which Newsted says is the song that made him initially commit to EchoBrain, and the progressive-tinged closer "Cryin' Shame." In between are tunes like the tribal "Keep Me Alive," the spacey "Adrift" and "Spoonfed," arguably the album's hardest rocker. Elsewhere, "SuckerPunch" manages to cover lots of catchy musical ground, but "Ghosts" gets bogged down in a strings section and elusive melodies. An untitled yet still impressive bonus track recalls mid-period Beatles.

Considering the pace at which Metallica are progressing on their next album, Newsted could have EchoBrain out of his system in time to join his old bandmates for their first studio record since 1998's Garage Inc. Then again - judging by how much fun the bassist seemed to be having playing EchoBrain songs live this spring - he just may be in this thing for the long haul. If so, Donkin and Sagrafena (despite their considerable chops) are two of the luckiest guys in the world…

Added: May 17th 2002
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: EchoBrain's Official Web Site
Hits: 3212
Language: english

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