Album review: DORIS BRENDEL & LEE DUNHAM – Upsidedownworld

DORIS BRENDEL & LEE DUNHAM - Upsidedownworld

Sky Rocket Records [Release date 20.04.15]

Doris Brendel.  It’s a name to be conjured with.  It isn’t one that sounds particularly rock ‘n’ roll.  Maybe a 1920′s sidekick for Miss Marple?

First encountered back in 1991 fronting The Violet Hour – a band whose one and only LP – a proggy offering entitled ‘The Fire Sermon’ – is still worth searching out, Brendel has since pursued a career as a free spirit, independent of the shackles of major labels.

It’s a path that’s given her free reign to explore the bounds of her creativity but one that has seen her remain a well-kept secret.  There can be little doubt that, in part, that’s down to her refusal to put together an album that doesn’t explore the full range of her creativity.

Vocally, as I’ve commented before, Brendel bears uncanny similarities to Sam Brown.  It’s a comparison all the more poignant now that Brown has sadly been forced into ill-health retirement.

Brendel’s last release Not Utopia (2012) took a number of listens to reveal all of its many facets – from prog to classical and everything in between – but the intervening years have confirmed that while it was a solid offering it lacked any ‘killer’ tracks.

Upsidedownworld – her second studio project in conjunction with producer and guitarist Lee Dunham – rectifies that from the off with ‘The Devil Closed The Door On Me’ – a monster number that AC/DC would surely cut their collective right arms off for.

But then Doris lifts the lid on what she describes the ‘assorted chocolate box’ of Upsidedownworld’s diverse temptations and the weird and wonderful world of Doris Brendel slaps you around the head like a wet fish as it trips effortlessly through pop, balladry, rock, electronica, and folk.

It’s a veritable cornucopia of multifarious pleasures and a journey that culminates in ‘Life Is A Mushroom’ – a bizarre number that combines Zappa style narration by Dunham, elements of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ and a reggae/ska groove.  It leaves one’s musical compass whirling.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 24 January, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 December 2020 and announces the results of the Popular Poll for Best of 2020.

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