Brenda Kahn, reared in New Jersey and scarred by Brooklyn, now resides on NYC's lower east side. When her first record, Goldfish Don't Talk Back (Comm 3) came out in 1990 it showcased Brenda as a brilliant songwriter leaning toward the protest song as her defining genre. In the video for "The Ballad of Ridge Street" Brenda accidentally burns the American flag she was trying to clean because she is transfixed by the television while ironing the stars and stripes. That same year she moved from New York to Minneapolis, a move the City Pages called " doing Dylan in reverse". She made her musical mark touring extensively throughout the midwest. One only needs look to these travels to understand where the songs came from on the next album. Attracted by the 7" single of "I Don't Sleep I Drink Coffee Instead", David Kahne signed Brenda to the Chaos label of Columbia Records and it was for Columbia that Brenda recorded the more introspective and personal Epiphany in Brooklyn (1992) which proved to the world that the time was now for this "punk/folk priestess". The Columbia experience gave Brenda wide exposure opening for Bob Dylan, The Kinks, David Byrne and Jeff Buckley. Her combination of punk stylings to revved up folk music and intelligent, slyly humorous lyrics invited comparisons to artists as diverse as Ani DiFranco, The Violent Femmes and Patti Smith. With the release of Epiphany Brenda was back on the east coast living in Brooklyn ready to conquer (nurture?) the world. The record was enthusiastically received in Europe where the major French press heralded the coming of "La Baronne de Brooklyn". Brenda went back in to the studio in 1994, this time with an all electric band and producer Tim Patalan (Sponge, Mexico 70). The result was a much edgier, more urban backdrop to the Kahn's signature lyrics. Two weeks prior to the release of Destination Anywhere, her second album for Columbia, the Sony machine broke down. Chaos folded leaving Brenda without a record company or even an explanation. Within a few short months Shanchie Records had licensed Destination Anywhere but their release came too late to capitalize on the promotional push Chaos had made before it was folded. Without the big label support Brenda hit the road the hard way hopscotching around the country and keeping her fans happy wherever she went. Undeterred, Brenda got down to work on her next record, this time for Shanachie Records. This project would be a joint venture with Brenda co-producing with Tim Patalan at his studio (a horse farm in Michigan). The result is Outside the Beauty Salon, a very strong, critically acclaimed record that blends the acoustic and electric styles of the previous two records creating her most accessible album to date. Beauty Salon was released in Germany in October 1997 by Koch International to widespread radio and press coverage including 2 consecutive months of Rolling Stone features and inclusion of the single, "Hey Romeo" on the Rolling Stone compilation disc in anticipation of her European tour (Jan/Feb 1998). Brenda's lyrics reflect quite clearly the landscape surrounding her; whether it's the "white trash chick at the donut shop" in the midwest, the "man with a shaking cigarette" in the east village or the landscape of the heart, "It's gonna be a long time ago, someday". The vehicle for these lyrics is music that creates a sense of movement at times akin to hurtling at top speed through midtown on the back of a motorbike with no helmet while at other times it's like driving in a big lazy car down the highway in the darkness. Either way you've gotta trust the driver. And she plays a mean guitar. Ed Aquilino
Related categories 3
Brenda's official site includes news articles, tour dates, photographs, a discography, sound and video clips, and a biography.
All Music Guide: Brenda Kahn
Includes biography, discography, and reviews.
An archive of the Brenda Kahn mailing list.
Artist Direct: Brenda Kahn
Includes a biography, album information, links and a message board.
The Boston Phoenix
A review of the Destination Anywhere album. (August 22, 1996)
Last update:November 24, 2014 at 16:05:17 UTC