Pennan Brae levels up and plays to win on his new album Arcade — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
The 13th set of high-energy, neon-coloured pop-rock from the dependably prolific and enthusiastically creative Vancouver singer-songwriter and guitarist, Arcade finds Brae in typically fun-loving form, blasting through a slate of 10 vibrantly colourful tracks with the skill, focus and eye-hand co-ordination of a veteran video-game warrior. Classic rock for the 21st-century is what Brae does best — and what he does here from start to finish.
Opening track Hold The Line bursts forth with a crunchy power-chord riff that evolves into a three-way guitarmy battle. Stage Right slides and glides on a slippery guitar lick that bows to the land of the rising sun. Jettison pogos to a spiky riff while drum fills borrowed from Keith Moon roll and rumble underneath the action. Swing On A Vine boasts a clanging guitar line that would make Keith Richards happy. Shrug toggles between punky slashing and cowbell-plonking guitar-rock. And there’s plenty more where they came from — most flavoured with Brae’s signature sonic recipe: Elastically fluid fretwork, urgently dusty vocals, richly layered backups, whimsically witty lyrics and an endless supply of electricity. By the time the final harmonized guitars wave goodbye at the end of the deceptively titled closer Arrival Time, you’ll be ready for a replay. In keeping with the vintage video game theme, the album cover sports beautiful 1980s-style artwork by illustrator John Keane.
As with his past several albums, Arcade was recorded at Blue Light Studio in East Vancouver with co-producer Kaj Falch-Nielsen, who also handled bass duties. Edward Whalen played drums while Alison Jenkins supplied backing vocals. Arcade follows Brae’s ambitious double album The Garden Series. The 2021-’22 project consists of Vol. 1’s Planted and Vol. 2’s Picked. Together, they feature 20 songs including the country rock anthem Mona, the intriguing classic rock track Night Crawling and the driving, fast-paced lead single Zulu. Pennan’s other recent album releases include the 11-song Cinema, produced by Kirk Kelsey (Smashing Pumpkins). The release features three remixes including the psychedelic-influenced Weed & Whisky Women (Distilled Mix). Prior to this came the classic Lit album, which consists of 10 tracks of vintage rock ’n’ roll. The release also features some beautiful lyric videos, particularly for Passing Fad and I Reminisce You.
Pennan has also written two soundtracks to accompany a pair of films he wrote — The Astronot and 2 Below 0. The former features two lead singles with world-renowned drummer Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty, Eric Clapton) and INXS bassist Garry Gary Beers, and was produced by Kirk Kelsey and mastered at Abbey Road Studios by Grammy-winning engineer Sean Magee. The latter received airplay on 125 college and AAA radio stations in North America. Both soundtracks won awards at film festivals during their release, while both films now stream on Prime.
Check out Arcade below, watch the video for Jettison above, and find out if Pennan Brae is game at his website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.