Chicago's Braam have been releasing records for nearly a decade, and the band's new release, "Damn the Dream Killers," is a testament to their longevity. On the record, brothers Tom, Scott and Mike Braam - along with drummer Dave Ashdown - deliver an ambitious collection of 17 songs that are as melodic and captivating as they are no-nonsense, stripped down rock 'n' roll.
Opening with the gentle "Finds You Well" and quickly moving into hard-edged garage rock territory with "Mama I'm Scared," the brothers Braam make it known from the start that they are fully capable of both quiet beauty and full-fledged rocking out. The third track, a jangling, hooky tune called "She Can't Take It," proves they can also master the middle ground with ease.
Between singer Tom Braam's gravelly, impassioned voice and the band's ability to truly rock without sacrificing accessibility, it's difficult not to make a comparison to the Replacements. When the smoky "Right Train, Wrong Town" starts playing, hints of early R.E.M. rush in, while the upfront guitar and strong melodies throughout the disc bring to mind Badfinger. When you can stir thoughts of three bands as great as the Replacements, R.E.M. and Badfinger in the course of a single record, there's no doubt you're doing something right.
Elsewhere, the mid-tempo, sadly beautiful "Blackout" is the kind of song that would be a radio smash in a perfect world, while "4th of July" is one of the best politically-charged songs I've heard in a long time. "1126 S. Austin Blvd." is an irresistible rocker that scores extra points for repeatedly name-dropping the Windy City, and "State Bank of Cheyenne" is possibly the greatest example of Braam's' clever, left-field lyrics (although "Sneakin'" boasts my favorite lyric on the record in "Recorded my record and I wrote about my life/It was like Leonard Cohen doing ''A Hard Day's Night.'").
If you've recently found yourself mourning the decline of true rock and roll, look into the Braam brothers and "Damn the Dream Killers." You'll likely find it a much needed dose of faith.
Braam plays Double Door Friday, July 18, to celebrate the release of "Damn the Dream Killers." Click here for details.