From: CA, United States
Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock, Pop
Dean Bradley (vocals, guitar)
Mark Cohen (bass)
John Guest (drums)
Producer: Gavin Mackillop
Contributing artists: Peter Holsapple, Susan Cowsill, Vicky Peterson, Trina Shoemaker
Assistant Engineer: Jeff Robinson,Trina Shoemaker
Mastered by: Stephen Marcussen
Distributor: ®Universal Distribution
Additional personnel: Angus Cooke (cello).
Recorded at (Daniel Lanois’) Kingsway Studios, New Orleans, Louisiana. All music written by Water. All lyrics written by Dean Bradley. ©1995 Sleeping Martian Music/ASCAP
MIKE BOEHM | L.A.TIMES STAFF WRITER
©Los Angeles Times
ALBUM: NIPPLE 4.5/5 STARS
85,000 Albums currently sold worldwide
Rodney Bingenheimer”s honorable “Pick to Click” on Los Angeles 106.7FM KROQ
Recorded at (U2 Producer) Daniel Lanois' Private Studio "Kingsway Studio” in New Orleans, LA (Other Artists recorded at Kingsway Studio): Bob Dylan, U2, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Emmylou Harris, the Neville Brothers, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson, Sheryl Crow, Iggy Pop, Water, Blind Melon, Luscious Jackson, Cowboy Mouth, Joe Henry, and Michelle Shocked
In an affable bit of stage chat Friday night at the Coach House, Water's singer, Dean Bradley, told his home-county fans about how the band went to Mexico recently for a show and spent some free time riding off-road vehicles.
"John fell off five times," he said, lightly ribbing the drummer, John Guest.
During a 50-minute set, it was Bradley who risked the spills as he went for the thrills of high-range vocal performance. Sometimes, his voice sputtered as he tried to negotiate the demanding upper registers and falsettos that he mastered in the studio on the band's strong new debut album, “Nipple.” But more often the risk paid off, and Bradley's tuneful but sandpapery voice leaped forcefully toward the emotional peaks he must hit to give that album's worth of good material its full impact.
There's a certain cliffhanger excitement--will he or won't he? can he or can't he?--for pop fans when they know a singer is going to match his voice against an exacting recorded standard. But the thrill is even greater when a singer takes those leaps with confidence and complete command. Jackson Browne, U2's Bono Hewson and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe come to mind as singers who have gotten better with age, especially in their upper registers. Water is just starting out, and Bradley's challenge is to take a good thing and make it great.
Water has the instrumental horsepower to go places, and at the Coach House the four-man band from Long Beach was able to move unerringly through the undulating terrain of songs that ebb and surge and typically build toward a peak.
Water, who has the fortunate fact of calling the likes of Neil Young, Daniel Lanois (of U2 fame), (KROQ’S) Rodney Bingenheimer, The Church, Korn, The Offspring, The Replacements, and even Brad Pitt as just a few of their famous new fans, has made an honest record in “Nipple" that is simply too hard not to enjoy.
As high school friends, the band was put together to simply play one backyard party show. This was just the beginning. One year later, rehearsing and writing three times per week, came the signing of a $4 million dollar recording contract with Universal Music changing everything.
For the band this meant they were able to record in their mentor’s famous studio, Kinsway Studio (Daniel Lanois' incredible 14 bedroom mansion turned studio in the french quarter of New Orleans) giving “Nipple” the unconventional approach they were comfortable with growing up in punk rock bands. With the mixing console from the Record Plant in New York in the 70’s, to the original Abbey Road speakers from the 60’s that played many a Beatle song through. Daniel’s personal collection of 25 guitars (one being Bob Dylan’s acoustics named “Just George") which Dean replied, “was just a “bit humbling", playing throughout the whole record, it had scotch tape on it with the chords to “Oh Mercy.” "For me, Bradley said, "I had quite the moment realizing that I’m playing: Bob Dylan’s acoustic, on a John Lennon song for our album, in Daniel Lanois' studio. It all kinda added up for me at that point."
I would “Imagine” so.
Bradley continued, "wait, holding Dan’s grammy for the Joshua Tree record for U2, that was a great moment we had in his house, it was just in this open cabinet in what was called the "opium room” in the mansion. We’re all just really big fans of honest music like U2, and any real music of any creative source. It was, a dizzying experience making “Nipple", really it was, in all aspects good and hard. Those emotions I was singing were raw and still wide open”
Dean goes on, “I remember one time thinking, do I really want to reveal, and expose this part of my life to the world, and just stand on a stage naked emotionally exposed? It made me scared for a minute, … just one minute though. I quickly realized it was the most punk rock thing I could do personally at the time. A song like “Spirit Room Lady” is a perfect example for us.
I had already sang the angry rebellion, mad at the world portion of punk which we still love. I mean, we had earlier had a band called “Angry” that was our joke band, we used to book these shows, and then play in the garage at the exact same time of the show on purpose, cause it was fun, it would make us laugh! I mean come on, we had a “theme song” it was called “Angry” and I stole the guitar chords from the song “Money Machine” by a punk band we loved called Agression. We turned it into a 45 minute song that was funny to the audience for 10 minutes and then for us the other 35 minutes was where we loved it, people leaving and all. The Offspring who we all went to school together with, used to cover it, way before they became famous. We come from one of the epicenter’s of that music movement, Orange County, CA.
Punk rock isn’t a sound, it’s not just being angry, although we still love that part, but it’s really an attitude, and all of us grew up in that. We naturally come from that viewpoint, that perspective, on all the things we do, that is… Water, musically though we wanted to do more.”
The band’s live approach turns guitar-rock convention sideways: the two guitarists, Bradley and Howie Howell, provided background texture with rippling arpeggios, thickening fuzz-tones or pealing riffs. The rhythm section more often held the foreground, with Guest's cymbal patterns and Mark Cohen's impressively supple and probing bass taking what passes in Water for the lead instrumental parts. The emphasis wasn't on solo exploits, but on a cohesive, motion-filled sound, and Water pulled it off powerfully. Water played eight of the 10 songs on "Nipple." Strong versions of "Spin," "A Moon's Afterlife" and the impressively building "Spirit Room Lady" showed the band's stately, tidal side to good effect, while "Strained" and "Under My Skin" hit with onrushing force. "Seeds" and Water's traditional closing cover of "Mind Games" gave Bradley his hairiest high-wire moments vocally, although he came on strong down the home stretch of the John Lennon classic.
Water hasn't been idle creatively: the set included two new songs--an opening number, “Static Ritual," that lacked the band's usual pop-melodic focus but served as a moody introduction and instrumental stretching exercise with its ominous, shard-like guitar figures and a tumbling beat a la the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." Another new song, "Streets of Cobblestone,” a pure classic (up there with the likes of the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin’s best songs) turned up in the encore, sounding like an absolute keeper on first hearing with its questioning tone and strong, episodic construction.
If "Nipple" enjoys the happy fate in the marketplace that it deserves, maybe Water will be back for a homecoming show at the Staples Center.
But why the name “Nipple” I curiously asked, for an album title?
Bradley replied, "are you kidding... who wouldn’t want to hear a disk jockey have to say such a uncomfortable, funny, and odd name over the air! We just couldn’t resist. Plus, everyone has two, it’s a universal human connection.”
In this case then, “Nipple” is a star!
WATER “NIPPLE” NOW AVAILABLE Worldwide for Download!!