(Photo Credit - Mancy Gant)
Feelings would have been too obvious; Moody is too much me, but Lathered in Gold allows Camélia and I to look back with fondness upon a very long year with many changes and stresses.
Brijean Feelings vinyl framed by Camélia
December 2, 2020, I got Brijean’s Feelings to review. The timing was perfect because I had just finished renovating our bathroom and needed a good excuse to sit down at my computer.
First impressions would have been part of my review if the album had come out two or three weeks after receiving it. However, I had plenty of time before my deadline, so I didn’t have to think about it; just listen and enjoy.
Wait, wait, wait. Scratch that.
December 7, 2020, five days after receiving Feelings, I sent my Michael, my Alt Revue Editor an article titled “The Music Connection Game — From Brijean to Rhye to Thom Yorke/Burial/Four Tet.” In it, I wrote:
I’m not writing a review for it yet, but I was sent the new Brijean LP, Feelings, which I have already listened to a reasonable amount. Partially, because I’ve been writing, and it is my background music. But also, because it sounds like music that would pop up on a lot of my playlists. It settles nicely within the cacophony of my head.
I don’t know what “a reasonable amount” is. Still, if Feelings affected me so much that I wrote an article five days after receiving it, I would guess that I listened to it at least three or four times, if not seven or eight. And how about that line, “It settles nicely within the cacophony of my head.” Maybe it was the rhythm, Brijean’s voice, or the deep spacy, seventies sci-fi sounds. The important part is that it instantly found its place within my thoughts and music rotation.
On February 11, 2021, I sent Michael my Feelings review. Apparently, the album captured a fairly specific journey for me. Camélia and I are chilling at home, “Day Dreaming” of “Softened Thoughts.” Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuart pick us up for a much-needed midnight, clear sky, full moon beach party. The Pacific coast, on the edge of the Redwoods. A cool breeze but fires and dancing. And like she sings on “Wifi Beach,” “I want to be/I want to be/I want to be in love,” and I know I am married to the right woman.
Some albums get put on the shelf after I write my review. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love them; it just means I have other ones to get started on. However, Feelings became my personal life album of the year. Affected by the stresses of the pandemic, my wife’s graduation from med school, a move, buying and selling a house, and making friends as an adult, again, I leaned on the vibe of the Brijean LP to calm my anxiety. In fact, because we loved the easy listening accessibility of it, Camélia and I played the entire album as the welcoming music at our wedding.
Wedding Playlist and Itinerary
February 10, 2022, my wife and I had the opportunity to see Brijean live at Underground Arts in Philadelphia. Although we had a busy schedule, and I had to be up at 4:30 in the morning, we made the hour and a half journey.
Camélia rolled her eyes at this addition, so I knew I had to keep it.
We got to Underground Arts a little early, so we explored the small venue. The front half, where you enter, had two bars and the stage. The merch tables were set up in the back. The restrooms and the coat check separated the sides. The second half of the venue had a large, full bar, food, couches, comfy chairs, dining tables, and a large screen television showing The Dark Knight. The lights and the décor were very artsy and eclectic.
I looked around and tried to absorb the atmosphere. The patrons and fans ranged from their early twenties to their forties. Some people were a little dressier, but most had that 2008 hipster vibe that I have danced next to at many live shows. Then I saw Doug at the merch table.
“Booba, that’s the bassist,” I said, pointing in his direction. “Doug Stuart.”
Camélia is good at being the extrovert, so she went up to the table and said hello.
“Are you going to be here after the show?” I awkwardly asked. “I want to buy a vinyl, but I don’t want to hold all night.” If I’ve learned very little throughout my years, at least I learned that.
As long as Doug was at the merch table, I knew there wouldn’t be music. So, we waited and watched other couples make friends on the dance floor. My anxiety level was rising. Everyone around us seemed nice, but I am shy and just wanted the music to start. Then we saw Doug walk to the green room. When he came out, Brijean was with him. They looked around at the crowd and went on stage.
Seeing the band come out is one of the greatest feelings in life. It’s that overwhelming childlike excitement mixed with anxiety, and I feel like I am about to pop. Then, the first note.
Brijean opened with “Moody,” probably my favorite because…you guessed it, I’m moody. As with most openers, especially with the lights as bright as they were, it took a second to get the crowd into it. Yet even though they were near the end of their cross-country tour, which featured a winter storm while they were in Ohio, @heybrijean and @dougiestu were true musicians and brought their energy. They were ready and were going to have fun. “Moody” went into “Hey Boy.”
It did not take long for the dance floor to fill up. My wife danced in front of me, and for a small amount of time during this long winter, we were able to let the energy of live music break away some of the stress that had collected on our essence. The deeper into the set, the more people danced. Dougie bobbed, danced, and smiled. As he soloed, Brijean watched and smiled, playing her congas. She sang and played effortlessly.
Picture taken by Camelia
Together, they put out a very West Coast vibe, which was everything I needed. Their music pushed away the self-doubting thoughts that had defined much of my 2021-22 winter. After “Wifi Beach,” the California-based band exited the stage.
Setlist: "Moody", "Hey Boy", "Softened Thoughts", "Show and Tell", "Walkie-Talkie", "Meet Me After Dark", "Ocean", "Feelings", "Daydreaming, "wifi Beach"
This is the awkward moment when music no longer blocks out people’s conversations, and anxiety returns to my introverted self. However, Camélia knew I had to get up early and asked if we should go.
“We have to give them a few minutes to get to their table.”
We went to the other side of the venue and sat down. I looked around. While I did not know anyone there other than my wife, it felt good to be out and see live music. It was our early Valentine’s Day gift to each other.
I let Camélia talk when we met Brijean and Doug at the merch table. She told them that we played their album at our wedding. Then she bought a print and asked both musicians to sign it.
Picture taken by Camelia
I purchased Feelings on vinyl to add to my collection of albums that I reviewed. Our interaction with them was brief, but the entire night was the perfect bookend to a year in which their music played an important part. From that email in December 2020 to a new home in a new state and my marriage to a beautiful and wonderful woman. Thru multiple waves of the pandemic and a very long winter, we made it. Another year has gone by. One I will title, “Lathered in Gold.”
Endnote: Because I was on a date with my wife, I did not take set notes. However, because this band is so awesome, they sent me the setlist when I asked for it. Thank you, Brijean and Doug.