Downtown Guitarist Seeks Own Path

Six years ago, I wrote a glowing review in The Eagle of a band called Downtown. Backed by all-star rock producers Flood, Alan Moulder and Toni Halladay, and featuring a melancholy sound that recalled some of the best alternative rock from the late 20th century, Downtown seemed destined for success.

But we didn’t hear much about them after that.

Now Eric Brendo, the band’s guitarist and co-songwriter, is striking out on his own. A debut EP, Over the Dunes and Into the Cave, was released this summer, and Brendo tells me a long-player is due next year. He is in the midst of an October tour and plans to tour again once the LP is released.

This month’s run of shows “has been great,”  and “creatively is stronger than the last tour,” says Brendo. “I’ve met some incredibly talented musicians and filmakers along the way and [am] staying really busy.”

The chances of another Downtown collaboration are “pretty slim,” says Brendo. “We toured for a bit after the Downtown release and I was doing some solo shows on the side and trying to expand as a songwriter.” Initial Brendo gigs took place mainly in New York City, but “then the touring addiction kept haunting me,” he says.  So Brendo, originally from Detroit, hit the road.  He spent “a year or two in L.A. and wound up living in Austin somehow, which has been beneficial in many ways so far.”

On Over the Dunes, Brendo continues to show a knack for the kind of moody, bass-laden grooves that were so core to Downtown’s 2004 debut. He wrote the songs and plays most of the instruments, though co-producer Howard Wulkan played as well. Catchy opener “Hazy Love” could have been a Downtown song, while closer “Ashes” surprises with a rootsy, acoustic twist.

If there’s one thing that’s missing from the EP, it’s a clear single — that one sparkling number guaranteed to bring down the house. On his upcoming full length, fans “can expect a little more [beats per minute] on the tracks and I’ll just be sorting out whether to fit in some of the stripped down open-feel stuff and go for what serves the album,” says Brendo. He plans to issue “a wide variety of albums over the next 5 years” and also hopes to contribute work to films.

For more info on Eric Brendo’s record and tour, click here.

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