Bright Men of Learning

Okay, so here’s the (basic) scoop: Bright Men of Learning frontguy Marshall Preddy used to front a band called the Wholesome Rollers back in the day. They fell apart, so he formed another band, called telluride. They got sued by two country bands from the ’70s, so they became Chasmatic, figuring (rightly?) that the safest way to come up with a band name nobody else is using is to make up a brand new word. Chasmatic worked for a few years, surviving personnel changes (original bassist Josh Denk moved on up to the greener pastures, er, woodland meadows of Maine some years ago), plenty of shows, and at least one CD.

A while back, though, Marshall and crew — drummer Jeff Senske, guitarist Chris Kahlich, and bassist Jonathan Sage — decided to retire the Chasmatic moniker and went instead for something that better described their grad school-educated selves, Bright Men of Learning. In the process, they gained a new member, ex-We’ve Got Airplanes/Panic In Detroit/Lucky Motors/etc. guy Ben Murphy, who plays guitar, percussion, and, uh, whatever else, it looks like. And holy crap, yours truly decided to update their name on this Website just in time for their brand new, self-titled CD (out this past May 2006).

Which was pretty timely, it turns out, because it’s darn good. I’ve watched these guys progress quite a bit over the last several years, and while I’ve always enjoyed ’em, with the Bright Men phase of things, it finally feels like they’ve really come into their own. Marshall, of course, still follows his own odd muse with his songwriting, and the result ends up sounding like a smart, sarcastic, intimate melding of Pavement and Son Volt. A little bit country, a little bit indie-rock, a little bit pop, and the whole thing rocks. The CD as Chasmatic back in 2002, Kicker Wisdom, has some good stuff on it; much as I like it, though, it can’t really compare to the band in a live setting, or even to the new album. True, the Bright Men ain’t one of those bounce-around-the-stage-on-a-pogo-stick kind of bands (in fact, other than Ben and Jeff, they don’t tend to move much), but their performances are pretty compelling even still.

Band writeup by . Band writeup posted Thursday, July 7th, 2011. Filed under Bands, Features.

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