MISTAKES EP -
The Upshot: Elements of country rock, power pop, garage and even Thin Lizzy inform this diverse four-songer.
BY FRED MILLS
In testimony to the song’s timelessness, Irish anthem “Whiskey In the Jar” continues to be rediscovered and reinvented. No longer the mere domain of Irish traditional musicians (Dubliners et al), it probably made its biggest impact in the ‘70s when Thin Lizzy took it to the top of the charts. A generation later, Metallica snagged a Grammy for their 1998 version. Northern Cali songwriter Sean O’Brien (True West, Denim TV, Mariettas) would probably be considered as arriving on the musical scene in between those two bands, age-wise, but with his latest combo His Dirty Hands, he sounds thoroughly fresh—and he’s rejuvenated the aforementioned track to turn it into a rousing slice of power pop that contains certain Lizzy overtones (the main guitar riff in particular) but, with his high, keening vocals, brings a certain yearning quality that’s all his own.
Elsewhere on this four-song EP, O’Brien & Co. serve up the title track, a galloping, twangy anthem; “Sleeping With Me,” a dark, rumbling, dissonant garage rocker; and “The Drooling Angels,” a sweet country-rock ballad that, with a female’s co-lead vocal, lends a distinctive Gram ‘n’ Emmylou vibe to the proceedings. Huzzah! More, please.
Plea answered: En route from O’Brien is a new single this fall, “Old Black Cloud,” a wonderful soul workout, complete with horns, which was cut during the Mistakes sessions. Too, earlier this year O’Brien released a collection of live acoustic tunes, It Was Sad Without You There. You can snag ‘em all at his website and also check him out at his Facebook page.
DOWNLOAD: “Whiskey In the Jar,” “Sleeping With Me” - BLURT MAGAZINE - June 2017
RISK PROFILE With hints of Lou Reed, Neil Young and The Pixies mixed into their sound, Sean O'Brien and His Dirty Hands make a glorious racket on "Risk Profile", a collection of 12 fine tunes, that, for the most part, rock out of the speakers with plenty of energy and interesting guitar riffs that make the songs angular and unpredictable although they follow a familiar pattern.Opening track "Rehabilitated (I Want You)" is a great start, punching its way into your brain, the band tight but loose as they are on "Final Say", a song with a melodic REM feel to it. Not quite as lyrically incisive, "I Can't Say No" is, however, a tune the Velvets would have been proud of, whist "The Addict Demands" is a smoky, late night groove with jazz piano and a downbeat feel.Cloaked in electronic percussion, "The Sugar Will Do You In" adds more variation to the sounds of the album, and the whole thing is is closed by "Blind Advantage", a slice of Americana complete with piano and steel guitar.This is an album that takes a few listens to get into, the sounds rich and dense, forcing the listener to dig a little deeper, and, therefore, more rewarding once the digging is done.(http://www.seanobmusic.com) - copyright © 2014 - Terrascope Rumbles (UK).
RISK PROFILE A Paisley Underground survivor, once of True West, O'Brien issues regular bulletins signalling that there's life in the old dog yet. They're restless, eclectic collections, and Risk Profile seems more so than most. Possibly the loss of long-time collaborator Jeff Kane has unmoored him; certainly once you're in it's fascinating, but it may take a leap of faith to get there. A myriad of post-punk seems are mined. Opener 'Rehabilitated (I Want You)' is all guitar and jagged edges but it's followed by a lighter progress: 'Final Say' is both more melodic and psych-tinged while 'How I Hate That Hand' skirts jauntiness, and 'I Can't Say No' is power-pop leaning to Camper Van Beethoven's ska with a flash of Pistols. Then the menacing primeval atmospheres of 'Torn Down and Hauled Away' flip us back into the dark, and there are excursions into lounge jazz with 'The Addict Demands' while 'Painted On Glass' skirts perilously close to New Romantic. It's almost a relief to reach the stately closer, 'Blind Advantage', at one level a farewell to Kane - its chorus offering the repeated valedictory, 'Glad that I knew you/so long, so long'; but having got this far you know you'll be going back. - Nick West - R2 (Ireland).
Mr O’Brien has been at this music malarkey a long time, going back quarter of a century to a time when fey young men in garish shirts thought they could take over the world. Which may explain why he associates with people who’ve done time in the likes of Camper Van Beethoven and Four Non Blondes. And his music could have emerged at any time during that quarter of a century as he veers between paisley pop, rootsy rock and even jazz tinged ballads. Which makes it all a bit schizophrenic, but there are enough moments when you find yourself locking into his mood, to keep you going for more. Of course, there is a lot of post punk meets art rock getting in the way of the better tunes, so some judicious programming of the CD player is called for. You may even want to download the best tracks – ‘Final Say’, ‘I Can’t Say No’ and ‘The Addict Demands’ – before making a final decision. Indie fans of a certain age, however, will find this a very enjoyable release. - Stuart Hamilton - The Rocker (UK).
Sean O'Brien and His Dirty Hands - "Risk Profile" has been available on Spotify since July 1, and a couple weeks before they sneaked physical specimens in the market. To say the least anonymously must say. O'Brien is a veteran on the Californian West Coast rock scene and he has performed and recorded with a bunch of cult band in the last 30 years. 80s with Buddy band Dream Syndicate, Game Theory, Thin White Rope , Camper Van Beethoven and Green On Red is something that still characterizes his musical talent. But "RP", which is album number six in discografin is absolutely no moldy look back on the past, but based on the timeless musical vigor and passion from O'Brien and his scarred musical friends. It is also the first album without long-standing friend and Dirty Hands-guitarist Jeffrey Kane, who died in 2012. "There was not a day that I thought of Jeff during the songwriting and recording of the album. But it became a form of fine therapy that helped me all the time to keep sane during a tough period to say the least. - But the plate is neither maudlin or sad but powerful and upbeat," says O'Brien. Besides producing albums drummer Matt Boudreau and bassist Tom Hofer (The Leaving Trains), which represents The Dirty Hands, so the guest list with the other visiting musicians both classy and kultig with, among others, Greg Lisher (Camper Van Beethoven). Damon Wood (Engine 88) and revered pianist Rob Reich. / Björn - Popgeni.blogg.se (Sweden)
With the new "Risk Profile" is Sean O'Brien is back. For him rockers from San Francisco's new album his sixth solo album. Just like on the last album "Future Harvest" which came two years ago, he mixes genres right healthy. However, it feels like they popiga parts become fewer and the rockier (and sometimes psychedelic) parts more. Clearly positive. In this release, it is even more electronic elements than before, and the feeling is that he has taken the whole hog and experimented a bit more. Since the last album, his guitarist and co-producer, Jeff Kane, passed away, and the recording of the plate has been affected much by it. The music is not gloomy, but the main track is gratifyingly still rock. - Mattias Gustavsson – Ikon magazine – Sweden.
'Risk Profile' is the latest long player from Sean O'Brien and His Dirty Hands, and follows on from 2012's 'Future Harvest' which I reviewed for W&H back then. However, this album is different, as it marks the first without Dirty Hands' guitarist and co-producer Jeff Kane, who sadly passed away, and to whom this album is dedicated. Sean says “There wasn't a day I didn't think of Jeff in writing and recording the new album” and it shows. Jeff casts a long shadow over this album, which features some excellent post-punk style tracks, along with tracks that broadly fall within the Americana bracket. For those of you who prefer to take your music digitally (I don't) there is the added bonus of an extended version of this album; a 'Deluxe Edition', which as well as the album itself, features studio out-takes, the 'Tribute to Jeffrey Kane' E.P. which was released last year and four live tracks from a KDVS broadcast in Davis, California: the station being of special significance as it was the site of Sean's first recording session over thirty years ago. The CD version of 'Risk Profile' contains twelve tracks, with Sean on vocals and guitars; Tom Hofer on bass and vocals, and Matt Boudreau on drums, percussion and vocals, and opens with the thunderous 'Rehabilitated (I Want You)', with pounding drums and jerky guitar lines. This is a track that could easily have stepped straight right out of 1978, and if it had been slipped into a vintage new wave compilation, I'm sure most people would not have found it out of place. The atmosphere is heightened by the disaffected, isolated lyrics: - “You better stop or it will be over, you better stop or it will be done/ Are we friends or former lovers? I guess I just don't know anymore”.
Whilst the music on this track is classic post-punk, the vocal delivery is more along the lines of David Byrne in classic Talking Heads mode. Although most of the tracks fall roughly between two genres, with 'The Addict Demands', Sean creates a track that will leave people with jaws dropping in surprise. This is a slow jazzy number which is piano based (courtesy of Rob Reich), and comes across as tender and understanding of a difficult position: - “Baby you know my discovery, is to be held in your hands/ On my knees in recovery, the poor addict demands/ And the craving is just awful, and I'm too weak for a fight/ But you're no fool my lady, at least not tonight/ You must take care of yourself”. Once again, Sean has produced a strong album, coming through and triumphing, despite adversity and loss. Jeff Kane would certainly have been proud of this. It is the perfect tribute. - Nick Browne - Whisperin' and Hollerin' - Ireland
San Fran rocker Sean O’Brien has been on the scene long enough to perfect his craft, having cut his teeth with the so-called “paisley underground” (notably as a member of the Davis, Calif., legends True West) and collaborated with a host of likeminded vets. His current touring band includes Camper Van Beethoven’s Greg Lisher, while the new Risk Profile album features Matt Boudreau on drums, Tom Hofer on bass and such guests as Lisher and musicians from Four Non Blondes, Engine 88 and Penelope Houston’s band. This spells a recipe in confidence and finesse, with O’Brien stepping decisively up to the songwriting plate.
He swings for the fences right away with “Rehabilitated (I Want You),” all angular guitars and edgy rhythms. Then in rapid succession he essays woozy psychedelia (“Final Say”), jangly pop (“How I Hate That Hand”), and choogling rock (“I Can’t Say No”). There are also moments of expansive, atmospheric cinema, such as the brooding “Torn Down & Hauled Away,” which is complemented by the smokey, piano-based lounge-jazz of “The Addict Demands.” And with an unexpected foray into electronica called, teasingly “The Sugar Will Do You In” near the end the album ultimately comes across as one of the most delightfully diverse — schizoid, even — releases to date this year. It’s almost as if O’Brien had so much he wanted to say in the relatively short space of a lone album, he decided to make the most of his forum and get a little bit of everything on the table.
That may mean that some newcomers to O’Brien’s music will be confused, but patience and repeated listens will pay off, in spades. And for those of us who have followed him over the years, the musical buffet is the kind of sonic nourishment we can cherish. More, please. - Fred Mills - Blurt Magazine
Sometimes I ask myself sometimes wonder how some artists get to it to come up. A name for their group San Francisco's singer-songwriter Sean O'Brien called his stage musical friends Tom Hofer (bass) and Matt Boudreau (drums) 'The Dirty Hands' and went with them into the recording studio to make the album "Risk Profile" to record. This year, after the sudden death in 2012 of his former guitarist Jeff Kane at the age of 56, however, he draws on the road for live performances with other band members: Matt Boudreau continues to play drums, but Kevin T. White (of Chuck Prophet and Alejandro Escovedo) plays bass and Greg Lisher (from Camper Van Beethoven') is now playing along on guitar. The CD case teaches us further that there is still a lot of guest musicians in the same recording were invited to participate in one or another song to deliver. Their instrumental contribution eventually this led to twelve songs which we can cling. Labeled "alternative rock". Starting with the steady rocking opening track "Rehabilitated (I Want You)" which we even some patches of "Queens Of The Stone Age" feel to hear back. Sean O'Brien has been a more than 25-year history in rock music as the lead singer and guitarist in various bands from San Francisco (eg "Meantime," "True West" and "Denim TV). Early 90's, he moved to Los Angeles for ten years where he contributed to the success of bands like 'The Mistaken' and 'The Mariettas' to end in 2001, returning to its home port of San Francisco back. There he released his first solo album on the market under the title "Too Personal" and five years later in 2006, followed by a second album "Seed Of Mayhem". For album number three "Goodbye Game" he performed for the first time out with his buddies above as Sean O'Brien And His Dirty Hands' in 2012 also highly appreciated album "Future Harvest" let go on the record market. These last three albums were each count on a favorable review of 'Roots Time'. Here now comes the new album "Risk Profile" in which Sean O'Brien has composed a diverse mix of hard rocking songs and smooth catchy pop-rock songs. The tracks in the latter category, like us better, making it our favorite songs on anything from 'The Kinks' similar' How I Hate That Hand ", the catchy and swinging popdeuntje" I Can' Say No ", piano ballads" The Addict Demands "," Watch It Heal "and closing song" Blind Advantage "are. The strange duck in the bite on the track listing on this CD are surely the psychedelic "Torn Down And Hauled Away" and "Painted On Glass", which on a programmed computer, monotonous beat of the main orchestration creates. Same computer is also prominent in the song "The Sugar Will Do You In". Does not really surprise us with Sean O'Brien his sixth solo album, but convinced that he knows what song writing and that he is in a very professional manner on his records can immortalize his songs, he really does not have to prove it. In that respect, the risk of failure for the new CD"Risk Profile" virtually non-existent. (valsam) - Rootstime.be (Belgium).
It has been been some time that my opinion of an album has changed so much every time I’ve listened to it. Is the word ‘grower’ still used to describe an album that takes some time to really get into your blood? If so then ‘Future Harvest’ must rank as the grower of the year. Sean O’Brien has been making music for some twenty-five years, originally fronting California based bands before moving to Los Angeles in 1991 then returning to his native Bay Area in 2001. I must, however, confess that this is the very first time any of O’Brien’s music has reached these ears. Denim TV, the Mariettas, Cottonmouth; all the bands that O’Brien has been involved with through the years have somehow passed me by. ‘Future Harvest’ would appear to be the second album O’Brien has released with his latest band the Dirty Hands. It can only be said that, if any of the many albums O’Brien has been involved in are as varied musically and as far-reaching as these twelve original songs, then it is amazing that Sean O’ Brien is not a better known name. ‘Shadow Sharks’ opens the album with a full, beefy sound. While it could easily have come from a Bryan Adams album, being a riffing slab of pop/rock with an infectious melody, O’Brien’s vocals immediately capture your attention, as does the performance on guitar from co-producer (along with O’Brien) Jeff Kane, who impresses more and more every time the album is heard. ‘Advice Coming In’ which follows takes a completely different turn, coupling jangly guitars with a warm Hammond organ sound, and shows that O’Brien has country leanings buried deep in his pop/rock roots. With thought-provoking lyrics, which not for the last time, prove that O’Brien is a lyricist of some worth, and some of Jeff Kane’s most inspired guitar work on the album, this is an early highlight of ‘Future Harvest’. While the title track is again lyrically clever, the punky, rockabilly sound is a little disappointing coming straight off those two opening songs. While that duo of openers displayed more than a touch of originality the title song, especially while reminding the listener of Ohio Express’s most banal song in places, has been heard so many times before and offers nothing new. The psychobilly tear-up that follows, ‘River Of Greed’, at least puts a different slant on that particular genre, with added vocals from Bill Davis, outstanding drumming from Matt Shelley conjuring up a sultry, swampy sound and, featuring once again walls of lightning guitar runs from Kane, it is evidence that O’Brien can draw inspiration from what has gone before and add his own, new exciting slant. As if to really prove the point that he is no one trick pony the following song, ‘A Thorny Path’ features the Magik Magik Orchestra, a string quartet who compliment this little singer-songwriter acoustic gem of a song perfectly. Given what has gone immediately before makes this song’s beauty shine even more, it is confirmation that O’Brien really can tackle most musical styles and win. The atmosphere created by that song is continued into ‘Leaves’, a country-flavoured ballad that benefits from contributions vocally from O-Lan Jones and Chris Von Sneidern (from the Sneetches, who also appear on a clutch of other tracks) and with some wonderful pedal steel from Max Butler. There are power-pop influences on the sixties-inspired ‘Your First Clue’; the blues make a showing on the heavier ‘When Is Your Birthday?’ and ‘The Dress Of Tara Jane’ again displays the country side of O’Brien. ‘Privatized’, it can’t be denied, recalls some of Nick Cave’s work around his ‘Murder Ballads’ period. The eerie atmosphere created by the female backing vocalists is particularly effective when coupled with Joshua Raoul Brody’s inviting keyboard sounds. To close the album O’Brien offers up the most soulful song on ‘Future Harvest’. ‘Sister, I Have Fallen’ is yet another surprise, quite unlike anything that has gone before it. Beautiful, heavenly female background vocals make this saxophone-infused soul ballad the obvious highlight of an album that must rank as one of the few that cover so much unrelated ground musically so successfully. ‘Future Harvest’ needs a little listening time before it really sinks in, but stick with it and with each play another little gem reveals itself. – Malcolm Carter – Pennyblackmusic (UK).
Wow, he can cover you on the wrong track. Man without any appearance with guitar on concrete stairs, hmm. I thought that Sean O’Brien some Irish blues artist would be. Is also the name of course. And since I had apparently not in the mood, because I let Future Harvest (First Cold Press) months and that I rarely do. So what a surprise when I finally took the trouble to listen again. For what a banging opener! Shadow Sharks is a wonderful popmelodie on solid foundation of drums with a dry blows distributive hastily punky guitar work and vocals that Talking Heads or nervous Feargal Sharkey calls to mind. Then sounds Advice Coming In: keys and vocals that now sounds like Lloyd Cole and Lou Reed. The title track begins as a bare electric blues rockabilly beat that goes straight to the point. O’Brien winks with his yummy, yummy, yummy to Ohio Express, but musically mainly thinking of the late seventies, when punk was pubrock. O’Brien plays with that given in the stanza let’s get ready for the future. River Of Greed is a garage where Diddleybeat O’Brien pulls like Jeffrey Lee Pierce of Gun Club. So who the hell is this Sean O’Brien? Now, he turns all times active. He was the original singer of True West, but in 1984 already left before the album Drifters appeared. And somewhere that can be heard on the alternating Future Harvest. The Magik Magik Orchestra performed with string A Thorny Path seems something of Beau Brummels with Sal Valentino and Leaves is a romantic song with piano and Chris Von Schneidern who sings. Your First Clue by thundering new wave again with beautiful poppy harmonies with Von Schneidern. There’s more new wave, a strong country tune with dobro and beautiful Privatized that the sinister atmosphere of Kim Salmon brings. – John Gjaltema – AltCountry.nl – Netherlands
Future Harvest is the fifth solo album by Sean O’Brien, after a period of wandering around as lead singer in several local bands. Formed musically in full Undergorund Paisley, Sean O’Brien has a musical journey of all respect that he first saw the founding Meantime, that gave birth to the True West and then the Denim TV, which had some success in college radio . After a period of absence from the stage, he returned to the stage as a solo artist in 2001, thanks to its Too Personal. Over the years, despite having produced several records, and dusted off some gems from his archives such as the recent and beautiful live of Denim TV, Sean O’Brien has never had the success he deserved and this is the desire to remain on the edge of the great around, and because no one has ever really believed in his talent. His ability to mix the sound with roots approach rock solid and never taken for granted, and they do him a character to be observed with attention, if only for the quality of his records. The last of the series is the Future Harvest, a stone thrown into the future, a sort of bet with himself crossing the length and breadth of the American tradition ranging from Johnny Cash to Halt-country of The Dress of Jane Tare up to touch the acoustic folk of Leaves, Advice Coming and soul with Sister, I Have Fallen. The heart of the disc, however, is the hot punk blues of the title track and the rock stradaiolo Shadow Sharks, where we find the same energy of the Denim TV, almost for a moment we had made a trip back in time. Salvatore Esposito – www.ilpopolodelblues.com – Italy
People like Sean O’Brien if they see less and less around, kind of hard rocker was born at the turn of the great American post-punk fever (he, California, has gone through the glory years of the Paisley Underground between minors and rock formations collegiate vintage ), with a courage a bit ‘eccentric ride in tradition and electricity, without distinction of any kind. Maybe sconfineremo also in the series b of rock’n'roll, as it seemed at one time, but with a certain nobility. Future Harvest resonates with this setting and does not bother to confuse and cross genres, falling in love in this round even Johnny Cash, sound alternative country (The Dress of Tare Jane), folk more crystalline (acoustics Leaves, Advice Coming in) and the early soul ballad and piano (Sister, I Have Fallen). Sure, razor punk blues such as the title track or accents pù Stradaioli exploding in Shadow Sharks and When Is Your Birthday remind us of the past from which peremptorily Sean O’brien (already seen on these pages by working with His Dirty Hands) , giving the album the right variety to run on its own. – Fabio Cerbone – Roots Highway – Italy.
Sean O’Brien has been for twenty-five years as front man of numerous rock band from California. In recent years he has mostly been working as a solo artist and has formed his own komband called “His Dirty Hands”. With “Future Harvest” he releases his fifth album as a solo artist. The music he plays is a mixture of classic rock, pop and country. Sometimes the music is, however, more acoustic. It’s a very mixed plate as he released. Ideally, it becomes in a little more fast-paced songs. Mattias Gustavsson – Ikon magazine – Sweden.
Four years ago I reviewed “Goodbye Game” by Sean O’Brien And His Dirty Hands, which, if memory serves, I described as an album of solid entertainment, referencing Dave Edmunds, Dodgy and Shakin’ Stevens. Sean’s new one “Future Harvest” is essentially in the same ballpark; a full band, rock-pop songs, crashing drums and riffing guitars. ‘Shadow Sharks’ is big and beaty, ‘Advice Coming In’ adds Hammond organ to the mix, while the title track is retro ‘fifties style – a return to Edmunds. ‘A Thorny Path’ is an acoustic delight and the album highlight, not least in its gorgeous string quartet backing. ‘Leaves’ goes into country’n'western territory, ‘Your First Clue’ returns to rock, ‘The Dress Of Tara Jane’ is out-and-out US country, while ‘Not Always So’ returns to riffing rock. Album closer ‘Sister, I Have Fallen’ appears to be a confession of some kind. An album of solid entertainment, albeit rather more US-leaning than last time, and so, perhaps to its detriment, falling between two stools. Steve Palmer – Terrascope – UK
Out of California comes singer/songwriter SEAN O’BRIEN, who played in local bands for many years, but started a solo career during the 2000s, which now already results in his 5th album titled ‘Future Harvest’. The music rocks quite good and a little classic rockish, especially during opener “Shadow Sharks”, the melodic pop rocker “Your First Clue” and “Future Harvest”, but there are also enough moments that go back to the calm acoustic Singer/Songwriter style, such as “A Thorny Path” and an Countryish piano ballad in the shape of “Leaves”. Concluded, a very nice diverse record here to check out. (Points: 8.2 out of 10) – Strutter magazine – The Netherlands
The California guitarist Sean O’Brien now, several decades of his career proved himself in many musical styles. He was a member including Meantime dubbed “power pop” band, as well as the “punk-pop” The Mariettas’s. Of course, the two bands mentioned is only an example, as the teams turned around at least a dozen guitars. The band contributing to the addition of O’Brien’s career is “well cared for.” As a result, the five other self-titled album, produced by Future Harvest. The preparation of new productions Chris von Sneidern to the Magik Magik Orchestra, Connie Champagne, and up until a number of guest artist guitarist attracted to the studio in California. As a result, the images are very colorful sikeredtek. Maybe then we are the closest to reality, when O’Brien displayed by the folk-rock music style has defined. The images clearly felt the artist and a rock-power pop-cent past. The repertoire of “missed” shots of the Shadow Sharks, with the title Future Harvest, the When is your Birthday? Not always so, and the count. The composition of 12 can hear rátalálhat your own favorite. – Michael Czékus – HiFi City – Hungary.
Formerly founder and front man of Paisley Underground outfit True West alongside Russ Tolman, O’ Brien has been involved in a variety of guitar band and solo projects in the years since then, putting together current outfit, His Dirty Hands, in 2006 and this is their second album. Urgent opening track, Shadow Sharks, with its lyric about getting older sets the standard and uptempo numbers like the punky title track (shades of Jason & The Scorchers), psychobilly rumble River Of Greed with its scorching guitar licks, the early REM feel of Advice Coming In and bluesy boogie Not Always So are the stuff of which hot, sweaty gigs are made. His vocals aren’t as well suited to the slower material and the 60s psychedelic blues When Is Your Birthday? is quite terrible, both musically and lyrically, and Sister, I Have Fallen’s attempt at gospel really sounds strained. However, The Dress of Tara Jane gives good Johnny Cash and but if you have an affection for bar bands playing ringing guitars and country tinged, 60s flavoured rock n roll then the album deserves a listen. – roots-and- branches.com – Mike Davies
Sean O’Brien comes from the Bay Area, California, where he once was the face of several punk rock bands like The Dirty Hands and The Mariettas and there are about eight of his CDs of him available on the First Cold Press Label. His youngest throw ‘Future Harvest’ come here just to invade my address and I must say I am pleasantly surprised. Sean O’Brien on ‘Future Harvest’ is accompanied by a whole host of studio musicians; including guitarist Jeff Kane, drummers Matt Shelley and Karl Jaramillo and bassist Tarik Ragab are the most striking. Sean O’Brien immediately sets his teeth into the rocker “Shadow Sharks’ and the irresistible ‘Future Harvest’ he still turns up a gear. Also ‘River Of Greed’ carves on a Bo Diddley rhythm is a solid way to a beautiful climax. ‘Leaves’ and ‘The Dress Of Tara Jane are two beautiful country songs and “A Thorny Path’ is taken to slow down without them to be mealy. But ‘Not Always So’ rocks or like a train. “Your First Clue” is opposite a typical polyphonic Californian pop song that once the summer into your home. Only in “When Is Your Birthday?” I have the impression that there was something missing and thus monotony would peek around the corner. No need to worry, there’s enough goodies on ‘Future Harvest’ to a successful company can brag about. ‘Future Harvest’ by Sean O’Brien is a fine record that ranges from rock ‘n’ roll and even punk rock to pure pop and country and western California. – Ivan Van Belleghem – Keys and Chords – Belgium.
It’s getting to be a habit for the Paisley Underground veteran Sean O’Brien – Future Harvest being another diverse collection, well up to the mark of the previous Goodbye Game and Seed Of Mayhem. Joined by earlier collaborators along with the maverick popster Chris Von Sneidern, he confidently explores and expands his horizons. If there’s a concept here, it’s to do with the world he ponders bequeathing to his children. The title track addresses artificial and GM farming, while throughout run strong undercurrents of disquiet and regret. Not that he’s going meekly: opener “Shadow Sharks”, a view from age, is raucous, rocking power pop, raging against any dying of the light, while “River of Greed” harnesses an impressive Gun Club vibe and keeps it real. Increasingly clear, however, is that what he does best is gravitas. Cale-like baritone combined with Cohenesque phrasing makes songs like “A Thorny Path”, with Magik*Magik Orchestra string quartet, “Privatized’, and “Sister, I Have Fallen’ replete with girl singers, among the standouts. “Leaves”, a long, country-tinged ballad about parting and upheaval, with keening steel from Max Butler, and O-Lan Jones and Von Sneidern providing vocal support, is a genuine classic. – Nick West – R2 (Rock ‘n Reel) – UK – July 2012.
‘Future Harvest’ is the latest CD from SEAN O’BRIEN, a long time veteran of the Californian music scene. There are twelve tracks and the album tends to be split fairly equally between two distinct camps, those which fall into the new wave/guitar rock category, and those which would broadly be classed as country/Americana. Sean’s voice suits both those genres equally, and his guitar playing is spot on. He is more than ably backed by a range of musicians throughout the album, with a notable mention due to Jeff Kane on slide guitar.
Opening with the fast, springy upbeat guitar pop of ‘Shadow Sharks’, this is an album that grips the listener. It’s the sort of muscular new wave that bands these days would kill to be able to do effectively. The lyrics are interesting and evocative, all about the rat race, how it grinds you down and how you virtually have to become a part of it to survive: – “Now I am an old man, live on a gated street/ Drive around in a golf cart for my security/ The kids don’t come around much, I can’t blame them/ I guess they’re soaked in bloody water, and they’re swimming with all the rest.”
‘Advice Coming In’, which follows is pure country pop, and allows Sean to show how well his voice is suited to this type of music. The song appears to be told from the perspective of a parent trying to reason with their offspring and comes across as quite touching: – “You can’t read a book, or enroll in a class, and graduate and still not know the task/ I can’t give you dreams to dream. Only a bed to dream them in/ But don’t you listen to anyone, is the best advice coming in.” Absolutely.
‘River of Greed’ is the first truly outstanding track on the album, sitting head and shoulders above the rest. It’s a fascinating heavy country blues hybrid, with a Bo Diddley style beat that really shines. The lyrics are self explanatory, and evince a fear of the systems under which the character in the song lives, works, and has struggled to maintain. There is also a degree of vulnerability, as the character realizes that even they are no longer safe: – “I live at the river of greed, and the water is rising high/ In my seersucker suit I wish, I had invested in something to keep me dry…Someone must be coming, to take me by the hand/ I’d trade all of my money for a piece of dry land/ Please don’t let me drown, please don’t let me drown, I used to be a king, in this town.”
‘The Dress of Tara Jane’ is another excellent track which comes across as a country/rockabilly track, with some supernatural subject matter: “After a night of love I woke up with the sun, only to find that she was gone/ I guess I loved a girl who did not exist. It’s been my failing so long…In the shadows, on the hillside she is waiting for me/ Tara Jane or her ghost twin, for my company.”
For me, the album’s finest track of all was ‘Privatized’, the sort of rock track that even Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds would be proud of. Like a lot of their work, the music on this track has a timeless quality and stretches beyond genres, however the lyrics are very much in the here and now, outlining the problems of capitalist society: – “Think of your jailer as father, in the cold, cold absence of light/ Naked in a stressed position, what is the prayer tonight?/ He’s not with the army, but a private company/ He wants to let you out, but he just doesn’t own the key…Let us help you with your fear. We’ve learned so much from the war/ We have a system at the border. The checkpoint is now secure.” Although one or two tracks didn’t quite get there, the accomplished musicianship, intelligent, heartfelt lyrics and all-round tunesmithery all conspire to ensure ‘Future Harvest’ reaps rich rewards for the listener. – Nick Browne – Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ – Ireland
‘Future Harvest’ is already the fifth solo album by Sean O’Brien, after a period of wandering around as lead singer in several local bands. Previous solo albums of his hand were Mayhem 2006 and Goodbye Game in 2008. On album number five of these from Kensington coming artist he shows various sides show ranging from solid uptempo numbers like the opening track Shadows Sharks to milder numbers and Advice Coming and a fine valve Sister I Have Fallen in support of Connie Champagne. An album in which he shows, or rather shows us that Sean O’Brien more trades in a career that spans over 25 years. – Gerrit Vermeij – Muziekvenster – The Netherlands
Though his voice sounds unnaturally high in the opener, Sean O’Brien is a capable rock singer and an excellent cobbler of lyrics. The subject in “River of Greed” wears a seersucker suit and sings about a crisis of faith; an article of clothing is besmirched in “The Dress of Tara Jane.” While O’Brien’s music seldom strays from a conventional rock template, it does have its moments — namely, “A Thorny Path,” which features strings by Magik*Magik Orchestra. (First Cold Press) – Rachel Swan – “Local Licks” – East Bay Express
After a 25-year period when he was lead singer acted in several local rock bands (including ‘Mean Time’, ‘True West’, ‘Denim TV’ and LA-formation ‘The Mariettas “) decided the California singer and songwriter Sean O’Brien to focus on developing a solo career as a musician to concentrate. This was done with varying success, but his last two albums “Seed Of Mayhem” from 2006 and “Goodbye Game” from 2008 could still count on some positive international response and got here at “Roots Time” both promising kwotering ‘honor’ them. The man from Kensington has the blood of a true rocker through the veins and can therefore never really hide in the songs he wrote for his latest and fifth studio album “Future Harvest”. On this new album contains some solid swingers, like the opening song “Shadow Sharks,” the handsome album title track, “River Of Greed” rock’n'roller “Your First Clue” and “far-tapper ‘and bluegrass song” The Dress Or Tara Jane “. On the other hand knows that Sean O’Brien is also easy to maintain in quieter, more melodic songs such as “Advice Coming In”, with violins and cello spiced song “A Thorny Path,” the first single released from this CD piano – and country ballad “Leaves” and the beautiful closing track “Sister, I Have Fallen” in which singer Connie Champagne harmony singing. What we can say more about this new album by Sean O’Brien for yourself then you should listen to the songs on this album and that you then must form a judgment about the success of this nice guy in the current folk-rock scene . (Valsam) – www.rootstime.be – “On his 5th solo record ‘Future Harvest’, Californian singer-songwriter and rocker Sean O’Brien has his best leg showing all sides as a musician. Through blending solid rock songs with melancholic and melodious ballads, this sympathetic performer demonstrates his ability to Diversify and at the same time to be excellent in different styles of music. ”
- www.rootstime.be – (Belgium)
O’Brien is reliable. Every couple of years the East Bay vet who goes back to 80′s Davis days in Meantime and True West heads back into the studio with his Dirty Hands, and they put the wraps on another roots-rock, roots-country, psych-rock hybrid. I know he’s covered Rank and File’s “Amanda Ruth”, and here he offers the country ballad “Leaves”, but given his Paisley Underground roots, he can’t be pinned down or easily. He injects acerbic wit and social critique into workingman’s rock songs like “Shadow Sharks”, acoustic folk with strings for “A Thorny Path”, Bo-Diddley-and John Lee Hooker-gone-Syd Barrett madness for “River Of Greed”, and other points in between. With some more cameos from such luminaries as The Sneetches’ Chris Von Sneidern (again) and his tongue in cheek words to the fore,Future Harvest is an eat-your-peas crop. – Jack Rabid – The Big Takeover (#70)
I’ve just received the new single from Sean O’Brien And His Dirty Hands. ‘Leaves’ is a long, beautiful, country-tinged ballad about parting and upheaval; there’s keening pedal steel from Max Butler, and O-Lan Jones and Chris von Sneidern providing vocal support. It’s going to be followed by a new album entitled Future Harvest. O’Brien is a veteran of the Paisley Underground. He was in Davis in the late 70s, which also spawned the Dream Syndicate, and he played in the origin line-up of True West. Recently he’s put out a couple of cracking solo albums, as well as a career retrospective The Drug Of Memory which does go back all the way to Davis days and The Meantime with Russ Tolman. The song can be heard on his MySpace. – Nick West – Bucketful of Brains Blogspot – June 2010.
THE DRUG OF MEMORY
This 23-track retrospective spans nearly thirty years of mostly unreleased material from Kensington musician Sean O’Brien through his work with the Meantime, True West, Denim TV, Cottonmouth, and the Mariettas. His songwriting and production improved markedly over the years, but rarely strayed from a distinctive blend of New Wave and American underground. (First Cold Press) – Nate Seltenrich – East Bay Express – 11-17, 2009.
Sean O’Brien & His Dirty Hands
(First Cold Press)
Having dug (in issue 59) O’Brien’s last LP, 2006’s Seed of Mayhem, it’s good to see he’s back for more full-band flavor (his debut solo LP, Too Personal, was acoustic), now with strong, permanent players. The 25-year vet and former member of Paisley Underground stalwarts True West again has ex-original Leaving Trains bassist Tom Hofer guest, along with cameos from that group’s original keyboardist Sylvia Juncosa, The Sneetches’ Chris von Sneidern, and others. But it’s the Bay-area singer/songwriter calling the tune again, and he and his Hands recall everything I liked about the above and albums such as the immortal Warfrat Tales compilation. It’s a spot where jangle-pop, ‘60s garage-pop, and soft-psych collide, a la Gun Club, X, Pontiac Brothers, and The Black Watch, with a few country-ish ballads and other curveballs tossed in. Nicely done, again. (myspace.com/seanobrienandhisdirtyhands) – Jack Rabid – The Big Takeover (#64)
Twenty-five years of musical career is back. Have militated in different formations as diverse as Meantime, where he gave free rein to their power-pop side, True West, psychedelic flavors. Denim TV and then came after his departure to Los Angeles to form the recording Mistaken Triple X. Machac punk pop with The Marietta. Continues to impede but now publishing its own name. The continuation of “Seed of Mayhem” comes replete with a collection of sounds that have populated his music career: power pop, punk pop, american … A disc full of great moments and melodies.
Rafael Garcia-Moreno – Sonicwave.com – Spain
Powerpop with both poppunk and countryside in the pot. Disarming simple / clean production without in any way be lo-fi.
Goodbye Game is a rough strong favorite. In addition, a very nice disc. Listen!
Anders Carling – Skivrecensioner – Sweden – February 2009
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Sean O’Brien was in an early incarnation of True West back in Paisley Underground days. For the last few years he’s been playing around San Francisco and last year released the splendid solo record, Seed of Mayhem. Now with a regular band, he’s wasted little time in getting together another release.
Goodbye Game is a dandy little package with something of an Eastern theme, and contents that roar along very nicely. What’s endearing about O’Brien’s work is his ability to take elements of recognizable influences, such as Nick Lowe, Television and Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles but never let them overwhelm. That’s partly down to his rich voice – little like John Cale but not so Welsh – but also to the strength of his songs.
The fine, arresting guitar intro to “Take Your Pills” makes for a corking start, followed by the raucous ride of “Warm & Sane” in tribute to Sleater-Kinney. “Aftermath Fears”, in more sedate time, with Julie Wolf’s strident organ, shows his political colors. The keening country song “All That I Don’t Know” and the wacky skank and dubby vibe of “Get Over Tunis” show yet more facets. And any record that employs the glorious voice of Chris Von Sneidern should always find favour.
Nick West – Rock ‘n Reel magazine (Jan./Feb. 2009) – United Kingdom
SEAN O’BRIEN is the very epitome of the seasoned campaigner. His 30-year CV includes stints with bands such as Meantime (who would later mutate into Paisley Underground contenders True West), Denim TV and The Mariettas. This latter also featuring ex-Leaving Trains and Baby Lemonade/ Arthur Lee & Love personnel.
So it’s undeniable the Californian-based O’Brien has been around the block a few times, but his experiences have rubbed off favourably in artistic terms. His current buncha honchos, His Dirty Hands – bassist Bill Davis, drummer Matt Shelley and fellow guitarist Jeff Kane – do a consistently good job in bringing his tough’n'tender, garage-tinged power pop to fruition and while ‘Goodbye Game’ would certainly sit easily on a shelf with the likes of Steve Wynn and Paul Westerberg, O’Brien has a distinctive delivery of his own and a desire to experiment which provides some unexpected successes along the way.
The opening brace of tunes, including the anti-depressant, self-help pop of ‘Take Your Pills’ and ‘Warm & Sane’ give you some idea of the ballpark we’re in here. The former has tinges of ‘Pleased To Meet Me’-era Replacements, while the zig-zagging guitars of ‘Warm & Sane’ brings Steve Wynn’s ‘Melting In The Dark’ favourably to mind. The sound on songs like these and the barely-suppressed angst in ‘Bones Snap’ (“split me open…pull out my black intentions”) is finished and well-rounded, but never too polished, and there’s plenty of room for windmilling power chords to detonate.
Add songs like the cranked’n'fractious ‘Walk There Too’ and the sharp, Television-influenced ‘Home To Penelope’ to the stew and you’ve got a respectably nourishing power-pop dish to savour, yet Sean & His Dirty Hands are equally keen to lob in some less-easily recognizable spices to the pot too.
The first of these comes courtesy of ‘Aftermath Fears’. Opening with a snatch of what sounds like a Middle Eastern radio broadcast, it initially sounds like a clunking, Bad Seeds-style sea shanty, but gradually weaves a glorious web of widescreen drama all its’ own. It’s only the first head-checking moment, too, for ‘Goodbye Game’ also finds room for country-flecked beauties like ‘All That I Don’t Know’ and the Brinsley Schwarz-ish ‘New Home Tonight’,where the superficial jauntiness and killer, Albert Lee-meets-Billy Bremner guitar solo only barely mask the sadness felt by a man looking to answer his relationship problems online.
The one place they arguably bite off more than they can chew is the bizarre ‘Get Over Tunis’, which seems to think an ill-advised blunder down Jamaica’s Maxfield Avenue to the dub heart of Studio One is a good idea. It’s oddly endearing, but stands out the proverbial sore thumb here. Thankfully, the no-nonsense ‘Home To Penelope’ steams through in its’ wake and the final strait is populated by the sinister, psychedelic-tinted ‘Bad Faith’ and the showstopping title track, which is as anthemic as they come and throws in a little ‘White Album’-era Beatles and Costello-style bile for good measure.
Honest, intelligent and unafraid to get a little egg on its’ face, this is a decent album with enough mystery and allure to tempt the discerning. Sean O’Brien could very easily be categorised as a veteran, but there’s plenty of life in him yet and, as such, ‘Goodbye Game’ is merely a fond adieu until the next quality-stuffed installment.
Rating: 8/10 – Tim Peacock – Whisperin’ & Hollerin’ – Ireland
Sean O’Brien And his Dirty Hands is, as you might expect, Sean O’Brien and his band, here releasing their second album “Goodbye Game,” the theme of which is the many ways people say goodbye to one another. Two bright and breezy openers rattle by in indie style (think Dave Edmunds meeting Dodgy), but the mood does change through the album. “Aftermath Fears” is a lugubrious rock’n'roller in 3/4 time – one of the best cuts on the album – while “All That I Don’t Know” has a country and western feel to it. O’Brien is a veteran of The Mariettas and Denim TV, and his quarter century of music biz experience shows in the confidence of this work. All the songs are written by him, with one exception, and interest levels are kept throughout by change of mood and tempo. “Get Over Tunis” is a mildly bonkers faux-reggae stomper, while “New Home Tonight” is the sound of Dave Edmunds with a hint of Shaking Stevens’ “This Ole’ House.” Great track! The closing cut “Goodbye Game” is a return to pacy indie, with bittersweet lyrics and rocking guitar accompaniment. An album of solid entertainment. – Steve Palmer – Terrascope – UK
Sean O’ Brien and His Dirty Hands: Goodbye Game
Reviewed By: Andrew Carver
Label: First Cold Press
Hot on the heels of the re-release of ‘Seed of Mayhem’ comes Sean O’Brien’s ‘Goodbye Game’.
Like its predecessor it’s a robust serving of post-Paisley Sound roots rock in the vein of Steve Wynn’s work after the breakup of The Dream Syndicate and Green on Red – not surprising given that O’Brien was weaned on the same sound around the same place.
Like ‘Seeds of Mayhem’, much is not right with O’Brien’s world on ‘Goodbye Game’ – that’s why he’s advising a mental patient to ‘Take Your Pills’ on the album’s opening track and telling someone else on ‘Aftermath Fears’ that although he knows “They are stressed out!” they should get in line. It’s a place where probing for personal truths is as painful as breaking a limb (‘Bones Snap’).
At the same time flickers of domesticity peep out between the dirty jangle of guitar. On the resigned country weeper ‘All That I Don’t Know’, O’Brien lets slip that perhaps intimacy doesn’t demand knowing every little secret. Is homelife all that it’s cracked up to be? There’s the offspring starting school next week and “barking orders for food”on the ‘Odyssey’ – referencing ‘Home to Penelope’ which seems to conclude that Odysseus should have spent 10 years doing something else instead of trying to find his way home. The protagonist of rockabilly-influenced ‘New Home Tonight’ doesn’t seem to think so – even though he’s trying to find someone new to shack up with.
Once again a capable cast of musicians flesh out O’Brien’s tunes with tasty guitar work along with flashes of organ and pedal steel, even chipping in an almost dubby instrumental ‘Get Over Tunis’.
The dozen tunes on ‘Goodbye Game’ should easily endear themselves to fans of Nikki Sudden, Oz rockers like Brian Henry Hooper and Spencer P. Jones, the aforementioned Wynn or the acerbic side of Lou Reed.
Californian veteran returns with new backing band and impressive results
Sean O’Brien has had a career as a lead singer in several Californian bands stretching over the last quarter of a century. “Goodbye Game” is the first album featuring his backing band ‘The Dirty Hands’ Jeff Kane – Guitar, Bill Davis – Bass and Matt Shelley – Drums. The majority of this album was recorded live in the studio which is beneficial as it gives a raw, fresh feel which is really appealing.
Sean O’Brien is at his best when at his rockiest and there are plenty of up tempo tracks to keep both old and new fans happy. “Warm and Sane” is a tribute to Sleater-Kinney while “Bones Snap” is an unusually upbeat song about celebrating your birthday alone and is reminiscent of mid 80′s era REM. The themes explored by O’Brien are quite diverse and range from antidepressants (“Take Your Pills”) to Middle Eastern war (“Aftermath Fears”) and Greco/Roman mythology (“Home to Penelope”) with plenty in between. When the tempo drops as it does for “All That I Don’t Know” the results are equally impressive.
If you are a fan of some of the great American ‘Indie’ bands of the 80′s such as The Replacements and REM, and enjoy some of the grittier moments of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, then there is plenty to love on “Goodbye Game”. Highly recommended.
For nearly a quarter of a century, Indie Rocker Sean O’Brien has been unsettling the west of the USA. In all this time, her has kept the joy of rocking and the love of unpolished Indie sound, so that his new work sounds as fresh as if it were his first (which was, in fact, a disk of his first band True West, which he founded in the 80s with his colleague Russ Tolman). Time and again Sean is accompanied and inspired by like-minded musicians like Sylvia Juncosa, Julie Wolf or Chris von Sneidern, which gives his songs an unpretentious, timeless quality. In many respects, O’Brien resembles colleagues like Steve Wynn or Frank Black in their phase after the first band, inasmuch as his songs are orientated more on punk or rock as on classic guitar pop. But as Sean has an ear for melodies, hook lines and riffs, this disk is not without pop appeal. Sean O’Brien stands with both legs left of the middle. But he stands there very well.
-Ullrich Maurer- Gaesteliste (Germany)
If I were in the mid-80s early in the morning for a clock radio turned on, then to “John Peel ‘s Music on BFBS” to hear. Über die Hälfte der Bands waren mir gänzlich unbekannt, was mich nicht davon abhielt, die komplette Sendung auf Tape aufzunehmen und danach rauf und runter zu hören. About half of the bands were completely unknown to me what I am not satisfied, respectively, the entire consignment to tape record and then up and down to hear. Die Musik war zwar irgendwo vom Punk beeinflusst, aber ganz selten war es mal Punk im klassischen Sinne. The music was influenced punk from somewhere, but it was very rare times punk in the classic sense. Es war Musik der 80er, aber eine ganz andere, als sie heute im Radio in Dauerbeschallung läuft und die damals schon eine Qual war. It was music of the 80s, but a completely different than it today on the radio in duration and runs sound at the time was already a pain. Es war Musik wie die von Sean O’ Brien, Musik die meinen damaligen Musikgeschmack sehr geprägt hat. It was like the music by Sean O ‘Brien, the music was my taste in music has very marked. Sehr poppig, sehr melodiös, mit viel Hymnencharakter und doch mit so unterschiedlich verspielten Einflüssen, wie sie heute fast niemand mehr aufnimmt. Very poppy, very melodious, with lots of character and anthem but with a playful influences as diverse as they are today almost no one takes up. John Peel hätte seine Freunde daran gehabt, ich auch. John Peel would have had to his friends, I am too. (8) (Claus Wittwer) – Ox Fanzine – Germany
At first glance, this looked like Sean O’Brien a bit of a strange bird and a history in a variety of alternative rock and popbands including Mean Time, Denim TV and The Mariettas only increased the feeling I had about this musician. That was before I even dignify by his biography and had taken his first CD with His Dirty Hands on a solid listen carefully examined. These include Sean O’Brien is friends with Russ Tolman (see also True West) and sat in his previous bands include ex-members of The Leaving Trains, Baby Lemonade and Arthur Lee and Love. This CD with His Dirty Hands is a colorful patchwork of various rock, pop, new wave, powerpop and punk songs that have their roots mainly in the 70s and 80s have. After each listen, more and more and more references and names pop up: Richard Thompson, Squeeze, The Recplacements, Television, The Members, REM, Love, Nick Lowe, Talking Heads … The list is with the longer listening. In Take Your Pills and Bones Snap, with the singer Chris von Sneidern, you hear something of a rocking Richard Thompson. The beautiful, a bit of a maverick on this CD, New Home Tonight is a beautiful country billy Nick Lowe song in true style, in which von Sneidern again as a singer. I had to immediately Nicks Love Without thinking. There are a pack of 80′s powerpop and popsongs including Aftermath Fears, a sailor song with a waltz rhythm including the organ of Julie Wolf that including the Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco toured, Hope Fill Up with delicious backing vocals, Goodbye Game whose intro of a Gepikt Beatles song and then turns into pure powerpop from the 80s, and Hot & Sane currently poised at the border of pop and punk. In Bad Faith, a mix of 60′s psychedelia, 70′s rock and’80 ‘s new wave à la Talking Heads, may Sylvia Juncosa guitarist, well known in the alternative rock scene, another can show her. All That I Do not Know finally is a ballad that lies between pop, country and Springsteen. Goodbye Game is an excellent retro trip to the new wave, powerpop and alt-rock of the 70s and 80s but one from the year 2008. (BV) – MazzMusikas – The Netherlands
Being active in the music scene for more then 25 years does have some advantages! For Sean O’Brien a man who played in a dozen of bands in and around California, it surely helped him to shape his own sound and vision on song writing. 2006 was the year “Seed Of Mayhem” saw the light, the critically acclaimed solo of Sean O’ Brian. An album he put together with many old friends mostly from the different bands he once featured. Today Sean is back with his own band the Dirty Hands.
The tunes on Goodbye Game are simply said good rocking tunes from the San Francisco area. With influences as far as sixties psychedelia, American protest songs and the Middle eastern this album is best classified under “Rock”. Opener “Take your Pills” is an ode to both Paul Westerberg and Booker T. Anti-depressives can do a lot of good, you know. “Aftermath of Fears” is technically a waltz but thanks to the psych organ of Julie Wolf (Ana Di Franco, The Indigo Girls) the tune does get a total lift up. “All That I don’t know” throws in a little Merle Haggard, while on “Get Over Tunis” the man goes instrumental using some experimental techniques and the aforementioned Eastern influences. Somehow it ends up being somewhat of a ska tune as done in the early days of ska. If “New Home” sounds like Rockpile to you then that’s not by coincidence. The tune was build around Nick Lowe’s “Without Love” and throws in some country / Americana atmosphere. Totally different is “Walk There Too” that comes with an Arthur Lee flair and to round things up title track “Goodbye Game” has some dear Prudence in it.
Maybe it’s to historical for you with to many names and references! In that case I can only advise to pick up the Goodbye Game upon release on October the 27th and get indulged in a little piece of musical history. As his previous one this piece of work is not your standard Americana or Roots Rock album but is quite an effort that is worth you attention and does focus on the music instead of the looks, and that my friends is what I love about records!
Mr Blue Boogie – BillyBop (Belgium)
If I were in the mid-80s early in the morning for a clock radio turned on, then to “John Peel ‘s Music on BBC to hear. About half of the bands were completely unknown to me what I am not satisfied, respectively, the entire consignment to tape record and then up and down to hear. The music was influenced punk from somewhere, but it was very rare times punk in the classic sense. It was music of the 80s, but a completely different than it today on the radio in duration and runs sound at the time was already a pain. It was like the music by Sean O ‘Brien, the music was my taste in music has very marked. Very poppy, very melodious, with lots of character and anthem but with a playful influences as diverse as they are today almost no one takes up. John Peel would have had to his friends, I am too. (8), Claus Wittwer – Ox Magazine – Germany
Sean O’Brien has amassed a wealth of experience in dozens of bands in the California area over the past 25 years, so it’s only right that the man becomes the band and that’s exactly what O’Brien has tried on Goodbye Game. Together with his group, the Dirty Hands, O’Brien has created an album that is altogether cleaner than their name would suggest.
To tell the truth, there’s little to get excited about on “Take Your Pills” for songs should not be instructional and “Aftermath Fears” sounds like a Television demo interrupted by a massive organ but it does give the first real sign of the album’s direction. “Get Over Tunis” sounds unlike anything on the album. Being an instrumental track, the band has clearly put total emphasis on the music and, as such, it stands as one of the most interesting tracks on the album.
More Television vibes are felt on “Home to Penelope” and, while O’Brien may not be on par with Tom Verlaine lyrics-wise, he has certainly learned from his influences. For good measure, there’s even a sniff of country twang on “New Home Tonight”. Variety is the core of this album – they are certainly not just another bog standard San Francisco rock band.
Whilst inconsistent, O’Brien’s album – and this is his first with the Dirty Hands – is nonetheless a competent effort from a seasoned pro. Simply put, it’s just not the album you’d expect given the group’s name.
Review by: Peter McGee – Bluesbunny website
It’s simple fresh & the second album from Sean O ‘Brien and his band.
According album for Sean O’Brien and his band, the Dirty Hands. ‘Goodbye Game’ is composed of a handful of songs are more direct and immediate precedent of ‘Seeds Of Mayhem’. The band seems to be more together and songs, while petting various genres from rock, the melodic punk to Bad Religion, to the beautiful country of ‘All That I Do not Know’, have a unifying effect offered by the voice of O ‘ Brien.
A disc by the strong flavor “live” with few sovrancisioni and arrangements essential that accentuate the immediacy of songs like ‘Take Your Pills’ and’ Fear Aftermath ‘but also the leakage of psychedelic’ Get Over Tunis’ and sudden turns toward the mainstream of ‘New Home Tonight’ perfect stomp country rock song.
‘Goodbye Game’ is a disco light, in its most noble: easy, no surprises, but made with heart and dedication.
Jacopo Mille – lpopolodelblues.com – Italy
SEED OF MAYHEM
MY YEARLIST 2007 – Johanna J. Bodde (RadioGirl, Insurgent Country/Radio Winschoten) #1 Album of the Year – Sean O’Brien, “Seed Of Mayhem” (First Cold Press) -www.myspace.com/seanobrienandhisdirtyhands
The real shame of Seed of Mayhem is that it’s creator is one of the band of musicians that you’re unlikely to discover unless you’re either lucky or look very hard. A veteran of numerous Californian bands, including one described as “psychedelic cowboys”, he has enjoyed a 25 year career making the very good, very solid rock that underpins Seed of Mayhem. He is a talented, insightful writer and a skilled and honest performer, best of all Seed of Mayhem is completely without pretension. There is a relentlessness about Sean O’Brien, he hits you with the power pop of This Could Hurt and then proceeds to hit you again and again. If nothing else, Seed of Mayhem will keep you on your toes. But within the framework of energy O’Brien throws up some very interesting shadows, Cleaner That Way is a dark and dank look at the world while Torn Sweater appears, at first, to be little more than whimsy, but in truth is a soulful hymn to growing older. As for Possum Ate The Cat Food (another meal) nothing else needs to be said. It would be easy to bracket Sean O’Brien as one of those musicians just too ‘honest’ to ever really court major success, but the way Seed of Mayhem develops beyond first listen, makes him an artist worth investigating further. Undoubtedly, Seed of Mayhem could have been nothing more than a fond nod to the past, that it is much more is testament to Sean O’Brien’s talent. – The Berwick Advertiser / Berwickshire News (UK)
Sean O’Brien has a long history stretching back to the early 80s days of Davis, CA. He was the original singer in True West but was gone before they started recording. Since then he’s been in a fair number of bands: Denim TV, The Mariettas – before settling down in the Bay Area in 2001 and making solo records. Seed of Mayhem is the second such, though it calls on the talents of a handful of excellent West Coast luminaries. The raucous opener “This Could Hurt”, featuring the guitars of Russ Tolman (True West) and Manfred Hofer (Leaving Trains), sets a benchmark of fine playing, but this is truly varied record both instrumentally and stylistically. O’Brien takes all the guitars himself on the wicked, early-Sonic Youth-like “Stumblebum.” “Dough See Dough” is a jaunty ska tune with horns and accordions, “The Bottom of The Toy Box” a gentler song with Cale-like vocals and cello embellishments from merlin Coleman. ‘Damned Either Way” with pedal steel and the voice of Kim Martini is country-hued, while “Possum Ate The Cat Food”, with tabla and tampoura, gives a nod to “Tomorrow Never Knows.” O’Brien’s a committed songwriter too. The strong, precise, neo-con-damning “Cleaner That Way” and the final “A Bee’s Tale” show an exploring intelligence that’s been waiting for a wider audience. – Nick West – Rock ‘N Reel Magazine (UK).
Seed of Mayhem features 14 gritty tunes from the land of late-night losers wrapped in a rough-and-tumble package of hard-edged music. O’Brien’s roots lie in the California rock scene. He got his start in Davis, Calif. combos, including True West and its precursor Meantime – a moodier step brother to Paisley Underground bands like the Dream Syndicate. Indeed, ‘Seed of Mayhem’ is as good as anything Steve Wynn has done lately – which is to say it’s very, very good. O’Brien’s worked with ex-Angry Samoan Greg Turner, and served alongside members of Baby Lemonade, the Leaving Trains and in The Mariettas and Denim TV. A few of them appear on the album, providing ace (and deceptively diverse) instrumental and vocal support. O’Brien’s tense vocals set the mood for ‘This Could Hurt’ a sharp tune distinguished by the guitar work of O’Brien, True West’s Russ Tolman and Leaving Trains axeman Manfred Hofer (Trains alum and Hofer brother Tom plays bass). The grumbling lyrics of ‘This Could Hurt’ can keep company with the Hold Steady’s and the Flaming Stars. After a trio of coiled and gritty tunes, O’Brien changes the pace with a series of detours, starting with the acoustic number ‘The Bottom of the Toybox’ featuring nicely fingerpicked guitar and cello. ‘Damned Either Way’ adds some country flourishes, including pedal steel courtesy of Red Meat’s Max Butler. The choogling scree of ‘Tranny Ignored’ gets points alone for the timeless couplet “I don’t care how you piss/ As long as you do”. ‘Dough See Dough’ takes a playful twist with its accordion and trumpet. ‘Possum Ate The Cat Food’ unleashes some more of Tolman’s distinctive leadwork, backed by flavourful Indian percussion and strings. A winner from start to finish, ‘Seed of Mayhem’ is recommended to anyone who likes the tougher side of powerpop, or the solo work of artists like Steve Wynn and Kim Salmon. – Andrew Carver – Pennyblack music (UK).
In the first instance the name of Sean O’Brien didn’t mean anything to me. After some searching on the Internet it turned out that O’Brien had sniffed around the edges -if not right in the middle- of the Paisley Underground Scene. Then a bell rings in my head for sure and names of notable bands from the eighties, like The Bangles, Green On Red, The Long Ryders and The Dream Syndicate pop to the surface. O’Brien has been hiding out in San Francisco’s Bay Area for the past years. Sometime in 2001 his solo debut album “Too Personal” was released. Polly Klemmer (The Mistaken) and no one less than Russ Tolman did a few guest appearances on that album. Between the lines I also read that you can assume O’Brien is on good terms with Steve Wynn. On O’Brien’s second album “Seed Of Mayhem” (2006) he gathered a working band around him. The Dirty Hands are Jeff Kane on lead guitar, Bill Davis on bass and Matt Shelley on drums. I read that they are all pals from the past and it sounds like… Yes, indeed Paisley Underground. “Seed Of Mayhem” is not an easy to understand record for beginners. To put it mildly, at first even this dinosaur had a little trouble comprehending it all. This West Coast pop and garage rock duels with sixties countryrock, from the Byrds up to and including the sturdy rattle of Crazy Horse. Not all tracks speak to my imagination, looking back I have to confess that. But the others bring back old memories and that’s something else indeed. So it seems that O’Brien sings off-key but in songs like “Eyewear” and “Cleaner That Way” everything falls into place and the good old days are cherished. When it comes to the lyrics, O’Brien raids the streets and scores a free newspaper from a streetbox every now and then. He wants to shout from the rooftops about all the injustice, but nobody hears him. All of it is typical and it is all rebellion from the eighties. In short, O’Brien honors with the release of “Seed Of Mayhem” the Paisley Underground genre and in that the alleged founder, Michael Quercio (The Three O’Clock). But you have to learn and understand it first, otherwise you will sadly miss the essence of this psychedelic rock record. Actually, I am already curious how the successor “Goodbye Game” will turn out later this year. (Jan Janssen)- Real Roots Cafe – The Netherlands – translated by Johanna Bodde.
A solid collection of songs (with great cover art!) from a seasoned likable Californian – Sean O’Brien has been knocking around in bands in California for the best part of a couple of decades. He has released solo efforts before, as well as been part of records by The Mistaken and The Mariettas. His style is rooted in early 80s alternative, so think ‘Murmur’ REM, but, oddly enough, with a hint of prog thrown in, so there’s rather more noodly guitar than you might expect from an REM comparison. Though the performances and the writing are not exactly ground breaking, there is something likable about Sean. He’s got a groove that he’s good at, as proved on ‘Stumblebum’, or the poppy ‘The Good Fight’, but he’s not afraid to venture a long way from it to explore different ideas, not that they always come off, but the willingness to try is an admirable quality. Oddest venture is ‘Dough See Dough’ which sounds like a German omm-pah band playing ska, not one that’s scoring heavily on repeat plays so far! Other songs, according to Sean, are variously influenced by Nick Drake, Charlie Mingus, the Beatles and Television (as in ‘Marquee Moon’), that’s a fairly large pool to be fishing in! This is a decent record of solid if slightly retro songs. He is currently working on a new record with his working band, the Dirty Hands.(While this is a music review, as an aside to the main topic, the painting used as coverart for this CD is by Sean’s brother Liam, and it is really something. It’s a picture of the O’Brien’s grandparents painted with nods to Edward Hopper, and Grant Wood’s iconic ‘American Gothic’, but with very much its own life, and a haunting, slightly Hitchcockian, atmosphere. Even though this is a portrait of sorts, as happens with Hopper, it’s the sort of picture to which you start to add your own narrative, as if it’s a film still. Extraordinarily impressive.)- Patrick Wilkins – Americana UK – 7 out of 10 rating.
This Bay area singer/songwriter apparently spent time with now-reunited Paisley Underground favorites True West; in fact, their guitarist Russ Tolman stopped by to contribute some backing vocals and guitar. But what drew my attention was the presence of the Hofer brothers from the first-two-albums Leaving Trains. Tom basses on roughly half of Seed, and guitarist Manfred appears twice and cowrote another. But this is really O’Brien’s show, and unlike last year’s acoustic Too Personal, Seed is full-band, fully arranged pop and rock. The rock stuff is what I prefer; it’s like the aforementioned mixed with Rolling Stones and Green on Red. The light pop stuff is less edgy. But whatever the style, O’Brien has a tangy voice not far from John Doe’s, and the guitars of the better songs, such as ³Tranny Ignored,² do the business. (firstcoldpressbiz.org) – The Big Takeover – Issue #59
Sean O’Brien is a veteran in the land of independent music. For the past twenty five years he played in a whole lot of Californian bands, like power pop quartet Meantime, psychedelic True West, Denim TV and at last powerful punkpop quartet The Mariettas. For a few years now O’Brien is going solo (with accompanying band The Dirty Hands) and he released a second solo record, “Seed Of Mayhem”. Various tracks here still go back to the Marietta era, but this album is even more -when it comes to style and themes- a reflection of his versatile career and even more versatile taste. O’Brien gets his inspiration from approximately the whole poprock spectrum. “This Could Hurt” is glamrock, inspired by Iggy Pop, “Stumblebum” has surf guitar, there’s psychedelic music on “Possum Ate The Catfood” (a try to catch the spirit of “Tomorrow Never Knows”), noiserock from the garage (“Tranny Ignored”), a middle-of-the-road little steel guitar in “Damned Either Way”, ska with trumpets and accordion in “Dough See Dough”, “Torn Sweater” is a Television hommage – it goes on and on. Not every exercise in style is successful. Mainly because of the whimsical vocal capacities of O’Brien, here and there grinding off-key indeed. Nevertheless, his timbre is pleasant and in that real strong “Eyewear” everything just adds up fine. In his lyrics O’Brien fights – a labor lost?- against capitalism and neo-cons. “7.5″ is about the timesheet he has to fill out every week, in order to get his salary – living off the music isn’t possible after twenty five years, not yet or not anymore? “Cleaner That Way” is a tune from the perspective of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, but then without editing by the spin doctors. But he lets his toddler daughter sing a line in the cynical spleen – that’s not brainwashing of course, as it’s clear that O’Brien himself is one of the good guys. – (GvA) – File Under: Whimsical exercises in style – FileUnder, The Netherlands (www.fileunder.nl)
The name Sean O’Brien doesn’t really have to mean anything to you, unless you maybe know a short-lived band like TRUE WEST from Davis, Ca, which emerged at the beginning of the 1980s in the context of L.A.’s Paisley Underground. Information about O’Brien’s actual relationship with TRUE WEST only exists in very cryptic form – in relatively insignificant bands like DENIM TV, whose Russ Tolman plays guitar on some songs on O’Brien’s album. Surely the most notable from “Seed of Mayhem”, a generally average (also means fair or mediocre) singer-songwriter record, which is absolutely pleasant to hear, contains continual melodic and psychedelic high-points and becomes more intimate and better with time – the more so as the whole is always reminiscent of Paisley Underground bands like RAIN PARADE or THE LONG RYDERS and stirring sound, which is regrettable as the songwriting is always infused with original and cliché-free ideas. Even if something unnamable seems to be missing – probably a real leitmotif or a more tenable total artistic vision, which really stays in your head. © Thomas Kerpen – Ox magazine #76 – Germany – (translation by Phil Butland).
The list of bands, to which Sean O’Brien from sunny California has given sound [ok, that’s bad English but I can’t think of an equivalent term at the moment] is so long that it would burst some telephone books. Even after O’Brien formed his own band Sean O’Brien and His Dirty Hands in 2006, he has always had extra material available for solo albums, like for example what we have here. Here also is the firmest Indie rock – strengthened with pervasive singer / songwriter elements. O’Brien is a humorous observer with a propensity for a melancholy note. No surprise, that he cites Nick Drake (and Charles Mingus) as an inspiration for his song The Bottom Of The Toy Box”. O’Brien is neither a folkie nor a jazzer – he avoids simple clichés in his songs, whereby they always drift off into unexpected areas. In their best moments, Pearl Jam manage this – but O’Brien does it consistently. As he on the other hand also likes Nick Lowe, as his mate Jeff Kane persuaded him to play in his Nick Lowe cover band Trouble Boys, as a reward for playing on his new album. Anyway: a little variety doesn’t hurt, and in any case the disk has a humorous undertone – despite the threatening energy. “Seed of Mayhem” has become a noteworthy, self-confident, and good functioning, contemporary rock disk – along the way with a quite specific sound. Full stop. – Ullrich Maurer – Gaesteliste.de online magazine – Germany (translation by Phil Butland).
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Californian singer Sean O’Brien is not a newcomer in the musical scene. Having been the front man of several California based rock-groups & having played all kinds of genres from punk-pop to Americana, the man certainly know his way around. For his second solo album, Seed of Mayhem, O’Brien needed some time (6 years to be precise). The result is a collection of songs that span a series of genres and styles and references names like Iggy Pop, Charles Mingus, Nick Drake, Television, Nick Lowe and many others. As you can guess now this is not a standard Americana or country album, let alone it is has something to do with Rockabilly Music, but still musically this album holds a couple of pearls that are worth mentioning and will easily fit in your Americana or Singer Songwriter collection. O’Brien gives us 14 tales based on his live experiences. Songs he has written over the years, during the many phases he went through. Written and composed under the influence of the different bands he was playing with, these tunes are a collection of his live so far. “Damned Either Way” is far above the best tune on the album. It does have a recognizable sound, and comes with catchy lyrics. According to Sean O’ Brien this is Nashville Stuff. Tranny Ignored, is about San Francisco and the way people dress up. Transvestites of course. The tune is based on a country, Rockabilly riff, but is delivered as proto punk song. Dough See Dough, a tune with rather cryptic lyrics, is based on a bluebeat /ska rhythm, but O’ Brien mixes this beat with a Polka like accordion and some saxes. The result is some upbeat ska/polka like Jazz tune. When listening to his tunes it becomes unmistakably clear that Sean O’Brien does have a political agenda as well. Or a least a political ideology he want to share with his listeners and audience. Many tunes references the political situations in the US, the Middle East, but on “Cleaner That way” it is spelled out for you once more, and in case you had any doubts about his ideas, this one takes away all uncertainties. Seeds of Mayhem is not the best solo album I heard recently but as a singer songwriter, the man still comes with a vision and a message and this is something I really enjoy in an album these days. The fact that the album references many bands I was into as a teenager makes it all the more interesting along the way, but I have to say, that even years later I do favor the originals instead of the followers! – Pat – Billybop – Belgium
Sean O’Brien has been circling around the Paisley Underground scene for about 20 years. Playing in bands such as Meantime, Denim TV and, most notably, True West. He recorded his first album under his own name in 2001 and here’s his follow-up. As his first solo-album was more acoustically oriented this one’s surely wired. Well, not to misinform anyone; it’s simply solid a rock album and not unplugged. From the get-go of “This Could Hurt” it’s not hard to hear where he’s coming from, which makes it very interesting to know where he’s going further down the track-list. The jangling lead guitar on “Stumblebum” (gets me thinking of The Church) and the steady riff of “7.5″ surely moves onward. As the album serves us 14 songs, I would not be sorely offended if he’d skipped “Possum Ate the Cat Food” and “Torn Sweater”, both which doesn’t sit well with me. On the other side, there are many highlights that cover well for them. The sweetness and depth of “Cleaner That Way”, the catchy “Damned Either Way” and the sheer fun of “Dough See Dough” makes for a record that I’ll gladly reach for later.- Copyright © 2008 – Anders Svendsen – Luna Kafe e-zine.
This American artist was, during the past twentyfive years, lead singer of about ten groups from the area around San Francisco, California. Sean O’Brien released this “Seed Of Mayhem” already in 2006 for the American market. His first solo CD was mainly acoustic “Too Personal” from 2001. He has since formed a new group under the name Sean O’Brien and His Dirty Hands (with Jeff Kane, Bill Davis and Matt Shelley). At the beginning of this year they will present their first CD, titled “Goodbye Game”. While waiting for that, we will introduce this singer-songwriter with his latest release (recently sent to us), the second solo album “Seed Of Mayhem”. The music on this album sounds a bit like The Flaming Groovies or Rockpile. Fairly good arranged pop and folkrock songs, following each other at the speed of an express train. Every now and then slowed down somewhat and then we can listen to rather well written ballads, like “Damned Either Way (electric)” and “Eyewear”. Fourteen songs are featured on this CD, of which twelve new ones and two remakes of songs, that could also be found on his first solo album. The guitars scream on the first track “This Could Hurt”, in “Tranny Ignored” and “7.5″. After that the softer countryrock prevails in “The Good Fight” and “She Wonders” and vocally slightly inferior tracks “The Bottom Of The Toy Box” and “Torn Sweater”. “Dough See Dough” is a street musician polka, even with accordion, but gets stuck soon due to the weak singing and can’t really appeal. “Possum Ate The Cat Food (another meal)” took its mustard from the sound of The Stranglers, but becomes second to the original soon. The best songs can be found at the very end of this record: the guitar ballad “Cleaner That Way” and “A Bee’s Tale”, that ripples on slowly for 7.5 minutes. Mixed feelings about the efforts delivered, is the best description for my review of “Seed Of Mayhem”. – Valère Sampermans – Rootstime – Belgium
Some clever fella has compared Sean O’Brien’s voice to the one of a young Johnny Cash, but let me tell you right away that nobody and I mean nobody sounds like Johnny Cash. That man was the definition of cool! But although Sean O’Brien is far from being the definition of cool (and I bet ya he isn’t trying to be either), I must admit that he has written some pretty good songs on “Seed of Mayhem.” We’re talking cousy rock music. Sometimes electric, sometimes more folksy and singer/songwriter-ish, but always heartfelt and present. – Past and Present Magazine
Sean O’Brien and His Dirty Hands – If you like the grittier side of folk rock with just a touch of twang, you will certainly appreciate the music of this band! The songs on the Seed of Mayhem CD range from slow, pretty ballads to fuzzy guitar-laced rockers that fans of George Harrison or Neil Young will surely love! – David Bash – from the program for the International Pop Overthrow Festival 2006.
Nice mostly acoustic stuff from this Bay Area dude who wrangled True West’s Russ Tolman to play guitar on one track. I liked this a lot more than the electric material I have heard by him. “Free of Deceit” is my fave here. – Dagger Online review – October 2007