Jim Santo's Demo Universe

Brandon Wiard - Painting A Burning Building

Timing is everything, isn't it? The unholy kingmakers at Pitchfork gave this disc an 8.1, which in 2006 would have catapulted Wiard to instant indie stardom, but in October 2004 it was merely the latest in a string of appreciative reviews, most focusing on the final 20 minutes of this disc. How surprising this must have been for Brandon, who clearly felt the need to front-load his third indie CD with sublimely crafted, sugar-coated pop-rock in the vein of Teenage Fanclub, Elvis Costello and The Rentals, only have the musos drool over the wildly ambitious, experimental (but still eminently listenable) compositions tucked under the disc's bushy tail. Had only the song order been reversed (and the power-poppers spun off onto a disc under another name), Wiard might now be revered like fellow Mittenite Sufjan Stevens. Curiously, he's released nothing since, although now he operates with a proper band, The Saviors, and has started an acoustic-oriented side project called The Ups. Will critical praise for his more out-there work embolden Brandon to push his art to new heights of adventure? Or will his continuing obscurity cause him to pursue the perfect pop song with renewed dedication? Or both? Only time will tell.

CD received September 20, 2004