Darlin’ Brando is the pseudonym of singer, songwriter and drummer, Brandon Goldstein. Born and raised in Virginia, he settled in Los Angeles after college where he found a thriving country and Americana music scene. Goldstein set up his drum kit and settled into the community playing stints with local roots music artists like country-rock band, Merle Jagger and folksy singer-songwriter, Leslie Stevens. It was during this decade in L.A. that he also began working on his own songwriting.
In 2009 Goldstein moved to Brooklyn and formed folk-pop band, Money and King with a childhood friend. He used the band as a vehicle for his own singing and songwriting, playing “lead singer” from behind the drums. Many moves and a divorce later, he found himself in Nashville at a low point where he decided to conquer his mess of personal demons and introduce the world to Darlin’ Brando. Playing drums with neo-traditional country artist, Tommy Ash, and frequenting off-Broadway honky-tonk gems like the American Legion Post 82 and The Nashville Palace was both therapy for Darlin’ Brando and research for Also Too... Suddenly dance ability (particularly the two-step) became one of his most important goals for his first batch of songs.
“My songs and the bands I’ve been associated with have been trending more towards folk and country for some time now,” he explains. “It was the time I spent living in Bloomington, IN and Nashville that really solidified my commitment to making an album of original country music. The mind-blowing singers, songwriters and performers I saw perform and performed alongside
with in legendary venues gave the songs on this album their distinct direction. For arrangement and groove, it was very important to me that all of the songs were danceable. I really enjoy two- stepping and wanted an album that people could two-step to and that would play well in any honky-tonk bar.”
While in Nashville, Darlin’ Brando produced the 8-song album on his own as well as providing vocals and drums. The Streise Bar Band is used on all tracks but 4 and 8 and consists of Brian Clements on acoustic guitar and background vocals; Adam Kurtz on pedal steel; Jeff Malinowski on bass; and guitar master, Storm Rhode IV on electric and nylon string guitar. Tracks 4 and 8 have Ryan Payton on acoustic guitar, bass, pedal steel and mandolin along with background vocals.
Also on background vocals throughout the album is Darlin’ Brando’s new wife, playwright, Edith Freni. The two sing a duet together on the first song, “When You Don’t Fight” and their voices are perfectly suited. “Edith contributed to the writing as well,” he allows. “This is supposed to be our sassy Tammy and George or Conway and Loretta duet with the music to match.” Friend, A.J. Croce is featured on piano for the song “Last Call”. “I met him through friends shortly after moving to Nashville,” he said. “I was over at his house one night for drinks and played him a demo of the song. I told him that I wanted to go for a rockin’ Charlie Rich meets Jerry Lee Lewis kind of sound and he offered to play piano on the track. I was honestly very surprised and flattered that he’d be down for something like that. So he came in on one of the two days we were tracking the band at The Bomb Shelter, requested an espresso and beer (at the same time), and pretty much learned the song on the spot.”
Darlin’ Brando has a knack for writing and arranging vocal harmonies and writing melodic hooks. And although drums are his primary instrument, he wrote a lot of the lead guitar hooks on the album. His love of country music pervades the album from the Spanish strings of “Those Old Demons” to the 1970’s country-feel of “Year One” . “Therapy” let’s his clever humor take the stage (Oh therapy/ You’re scaring me/ They say that you’ll take care of me/ But oh therapy, you’re scaring me) while the acoustic beauty of “The Old Man and the Kid” ends the album. “That song was a family affair as co-writes go,” he admits. “My mother and niece were in Las Vegas a few years back, killing time in a hotel room and decided to write some lyrics. My mom sent me the song and asked if I could do anything with it. I was impressed and felt that I could make it my own.”
Goldstein’s background is so varied (even playing drums in a hardcore band), and his influences so vast, that the songwriting on Also Too... defies genre and yet, the music still feels satisfyingly and specifically country. “I feel like I’ve found a rhythm in the process and that the constraints of the country ‘format’ is really working for me. At some point over the last few years, I just decided that I wanted to start writing simpler arrangements and lyrics for songs that could ideally be covered by others; that feel universal enough for other artists to find a way in. Country music is a genre perfectly suited for those kinds of songs.”
Now, with Freni by his side, he’s back in L.A. (“A lot of living, moving around and moving on...”); Darlin’ Brando is set to make his debut with Also Too...