Best Indie Music of 2009 – An Indie Music Review

I have been, to paraphrase Brian Epstein, ‘shouting Martin’s name from the rooftops’ for several years in an effort to bring his songs to the public attention.

It is immediately obvious from the first bars of ‘Be That Man’, the opening song from Martin’s first solo album, ‘Where Have I Been All Your Life?’, that here is a talent that has just waiting to burst forth. It fairly bristles with enthusiasm and rushes the listener along at a brisk rate, through a tale of everyday longing and wishes unfulfilled. Further songs on this and his subsequent albums only confirm Martin’s gift as a composer. From the mighty ‘My Clown Career’, with it’s dark, ‘Kashmir’ – like power and sense of foreboding, to the tongue-in-cheek jangle of ‘Hemel Hempstead Boy’, it is clear that here is a songwriter of great ability. My first exposure to Martin’s songs left me exhilarated and wanting to hear more.

Martin Brown, UK songwriter and singer / musician, has released three solo albums on independent labels during the last three years. On each of these albums, Martin plays all instruments and handles all vocal duties. Those who have heard Martin’s songs have been full of praise for them and have expressed astonishment that he has not yet made a bigger impression on the listening public. Jeff Giles, in a review of Martin’s first two solo albums that appeared in the site ‘Popdose’, highly praised Martin’s abilities as a songwriter and musician and said that, in his opinion, Martin was writing songs that were the equal of anything Neil Finn (Crowded House) and Andy Partridge (XTC) had produced.

The aforementioned albums,’Where Have I Been All Your Life?’ and ‘Butterflies’, released in 2006 and 2007 respectively were followed in 2008 by a third album, ‘Diamonds’. Jeff also reviewed this album, citing it as ‘possibly Martin’s most complete and satisfying collection of songs so far’.

A brief history of Martin’s career:-

Martin, the only child of musician parents, was born and raised in Hemel Hempstead near London and showed early promise as a guitarist and began his professional musical life during his teens. He spent several years during the early 70’s, touring with ‘The Stroll Band’ in Germany and Holland, later joining ‘Born Free’ back in the UK. Following this, Martin joined forces with drummer Keith Chapman, forming the band ‘Spoils’, who supported Paul Young and were a very popular band on the club and university circuit and later, Keith and Martin formed ‘The Sugar Glyders’ along with bassist Paul Thomson. The Sugar Glyders were signed to the ‘Lost Moment Records’ label, releasing their first single, ‘Revenge’ in 1984 one of Martin’s tunes and a record that is now considered a collectible classic. The band also contributed further tracks to a Lost Moment Records sampler album, ‘Colours of The Bastard Art’.

Martin continued to record with Keith Chapman, overdubbing instruments and vocals and this led to his current working methods. In addition, Martin co-wrote ‘Never Going to Take No For An Answer’, with Ed Poole, a song later covered by Bonnie Tyler. He also wrote and recorded material with Russ Ballard, million-selling songwriter.

In 2008, he released his ode to the town, ‘Hemel Hempstead Boy’, included on his second album ‘Butterflies’. This led to interviews on BBC radio as well as live sessions. Martin also won the BBC 3 Counties’ ‘Independent Musician’ competition, leading to further radio work.

Martin is an ace guitarist, thankfully he shows admirable taste, purely using his guitar work as an embellishment to his songs rather than smothering them in solos! The songs vary from Beatles / Crowded House acoustic songs, to far rockier edgy-sounding material. In more recent work, Martin has even tried his hand at some dance-oriented material. All of this is all the more bewildering when it is appreciated that he plays everything that is heard on all of his songs!

Martin is currently recording material for his fourth album, which I am looking forward to with great anticipation.