Arriving on the Boston scene with a rock & roll swagger and a barroom poet’s heart, Jake Brennan is an exciting new voice. With songs that range from anthemic rockers that evoke Petty or Springsteen and a punk energy that evokes his Hardcore roots — as well as echoing the primal Sun Sessions rock sound — Brennan and The Confidence Men have proven that is possible to win over a jaded, indie-rock crowd in America’s most overeducated city and transport them into a sweaty roadhouse somewhere in a mythical American heartland.
Brennan, who walked away from Cast Iron Hike, a promising and successful hardcore band, began taking tentative steps towards a different musical career. An encounter with Paul Kolderie, erstwhile producer of everyone from Morphine to Radiohead to Hole to the Pixies to Joe Jackson, led to a fruitful recording collaboration. Paul recorded Jake & the Confidence Men for a year, searching for the spark and the song that would turn a band with potential into a band with a hit record, prodding and cajoling Jake into writing even better material. In the meantime, Jake hit the road with his band in support of Frank Black, and toured solo with the likes of Evan Dando, Tommy Stinson and The Figgs, perfecting his ability to get his songs across and connect with an audience.
Finally, with two fistfuls of finished songs, Kolderie threw a three-night party to open his new studio (at the site of his greatest triumphs,Fort Apache in Cambridge, MA) and the Confidence Men served as the house band. Local legends stopped by and sat in, and Kolderie rolled the tape. A roving film crew was on hand to capture the music and the scene. These raw tapes will serve as the basis on Brennan’s forthcoming debut album, Love & Bombs, but in the meantime you hold in your hand the first taste of the band’s recorded output (not to mention a trailer for the accompanying film footage included on the forthcoming DVD, Singer-Songriot).
Tracks like “Believe Me,” propelled by Jimmy Ryan’s (Blood Oranges, Catie Curtis) mandolin, and “Everything” demonstrate the range of Brennan’s songwriting, while blistering covers of Frank Black’s “If It Takes All Night” and Moe Bandy’s “It Was Always So Easy” demonstrate his band’s rock & roll fervor and wide-ranging tastes. With a knack for narrative and a yearning, soulful vocal delivery that belies his age, Brennan seems born to be a musician. Evidently, Boston music fans agree: Jake and the Confidence Men recently won WBCN’s 2004 Rock Rumble and have been playing shows with everyone from The Mekons to The Von Bondies in their hometown; planning to hit the road when Love & Bombs drops on September 21.
Young, driven and talented, Brennan isn’t pretentious about his craft. “Some guys are plumbers, some guys fix cars, and I sing songs. And I write ’em. That’s it.”