Brandon Teskey – Screaming into the Void
CD: 12 Songs, 54 Minutes
Styles: Acid Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Guitar Monster Blues
One of the lessons I learned from watching the movie King Richard is that if the path others have paved doesn’t suit you, then go your own way. That’s what Richard Williams had to do to propel his daughters Venus and Serena to tennis stardom. That’s also what Arizona blues rock guitarist Brandon Teskey has done on his second independent album. He exudes raw, hard-driving energy in a fusion of blues, rock and psychedelia, bringing Joe Satriani and Carlos Santana to mind.
Just listen to the first two songs – Screaming into the Void and “Vertigo on the Heights of Desire.” They’re both instrumentals, and MAN, are they good. How good? They made me glad I stayed up past 1 AM to write this review. On nine original tracks and three covers (“Side Tracked” by Freddy King, “Autumn Leaves” by Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prevert, and “Equinox” by John Coltrane), Teskey holds nothing back – not his rip-roaring riffs, skillful guitar phrasing, or octane level. This is a wild ride from start to finish, so buckle your seat belts.
Brandon was born and raised in Southern California. At age 11 he began playing guitar and was exposed to blues music shortly thereafter, becoming consumed with the art of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert King, Robert Johnson, Albert Collins, and T-Bone Walker, as well as rock artists like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Eric Johnson. An obsession with songwriting also sprang up within the young man.
By the time he was 15 years old, he had joined an established blues band with some members forty years his senior. By the time he was 16, he had played the prominent San Juan Capistrano venue, The Coach House, where he had seen many of his idols play as a kid.
In 2017 Teskey released The Chime, a solo rock instrumental album which combined the influences of rock, Delta blues, electronic rock, and jazz. The same year Brandon, along with other bandmates, formed ‘Until the Sun’, which allowed Brandon to return to his Blues-Rock roots and opened new doors of creativity. In 2019 Until the Sun released their debut album, Blackheart, followed by their 2021 album, Drowning in Blue. Throughout 2021, Until the Sun played numerous shows and went on some small tours, despite the COVID lockdown.
With Teskey (guitar and lead vocals) are Chris Tex on drums, Jon Nadel on bass, Alyssa Swartz on vocals, Will Kyriazis on keyboard, and Danny Markovitch on saxophone.
You might not think there are any slow tunes on this album, considering its title, but Teskey and company surprise us with “Amare Nocturne,” number five. It’s short, sweet, and smooth. The band strikes the right balance between passion and finesse, not getting carried away with long solos and fancy tricks. Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of flair here, but it’s in the service of the greater good: romance. Grab a partner and dance!
Another fascinating song is “Tree of Life,” meditative and reminiscent of Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” It’ll relax and energize you at the same time. The best thing about it, though, is how smoothly the main melody and the background blend into each other. Neither is meant to overpower the other, like yin and yang in perfect equilibrium. Alyssa Swartz provides warm and expressive background vocals.
Get this album. Get it right now. It’ll have you Screaming into the Void in blues/acid rock ecstasy.