REVIEW: Brian Cullman “Winter Clothes” is a Little Drama with Colorful Vocals


Brian Cullman – Winter Clothes

This is going to be tough because this kind of music in the late 70s was one of my favorites. I love a little drama, with power, creativity & melody.

This opening cut reminds me of The Beaver Brothers — a band almost no one remembers. They produced a great concept LP in 1978 (Ventriloquisms) of exactly this kind of Brian Cullman dynamic. Especially their dramatically orchestrated “You’ll Never Believe It,” (& the lighter fare “Doctor’s Song” & “Gotta Get Out of This Place),” with its Beatle-like flavors & solid production.

NYC’s Brian Cullman has captured it wonderfully from “Killing the Dead,” & “Down Down Down.” Is it for 2020? That remains to be seen. If it were 1978 this could’ve found favor on rock radio. Each tune is melody infectious with Cullman’s colorful vocal & exquisite musicianship.

Set to drop Sept 11, the 10-track Winter Clothes (Sunnyside Communications) is 36-minutes of beautifully written & performed vignettes. This project was ingeniously created by Brian (vocals/guitar) & his late collaborator Jimi Zhivago (who played guitar/mandolin/ organ & piano) who worked bravely right up to his last days.

Recorded live at Forrest Sound in Long Island City, NY it included Byron Isaacs (bass/drums/bk vocals), Glenn Patscha (piano/organ/bk vocals), Chris Bruce (guitar/bass), Chris Heinz (drums), Tony leone (percussion), John Ellis (sax), Maryasque Fendley (bk vocals) & Syd Straw (Golden Palominos) on bk vocals. Great collaborators & with whom Brian admitted provided “my deepest recording experience.”

The light balladry in a near-whisper with sincerity of “Someday Miss You,” is quite effective (the way bluesman John Mayall sang “Lying in My Bed,” from the Empty Rooms LP) is great late-night music.

“New Year’s Eve,” has a grating guitar layer with an underlying sax & Cullman’s straining but in tune, vocals add the necessary angst to the tune. Added piano gives the song a jazzy lift & it’s engaging. An Elvis-Gene Vincent tinted, inspired rocker “Sleep It Off,” is excellently rendered with power, sass & malt-shop wild dancing.

Brian shifts gears with poignancy similar to the late Clifford T. Ward (“Wherewithal” “Gaye”) during beauties like “Coffee.” A well-written ballad drenched in sentimentality. Then a potential single “Wrong Girl,” with its chiming mandolin is a hook-filled tasty showcase.

Closing with a haunting song “Building,” (“I Will Build Where I Stand” would’ve been a better concise title) is reminiscent of artists who subscribed to the foundation of deeper roots & presentation: the late Duncan Browne, at times John Hiatt, the late Jackie Leven, & again, the late Clifford T. Ward. Brian digs in dirt harvested before, but he has his own crop that is righteous, well-maintained & with some luck will be appreciated.

It’s good work. These are wonderful compositions & each is likable.

The LP was produced by Jimi Zhivago & Brian – available at Amazon &

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