Nat Freedberg & No Brainer at O'Brien's Pub, Allston
Nat Freedberg & No Brainer rock Allston Rock City.
Nat Freedberg is a musician and songwriter from Boston. He's written and recorded a lot of songs for bands like the Flies, the Titanics, the Satanics, the Clamdiggers, and the Upper Crust. He released a 12-song solo album, Better Late Than Never, in February of 2019, followed by the 10-song Freeloader, Path of Least Resistance in July. He is now mastering another 13-song solo record to be entitled Record Number Three, scheduled for release February 15, 2020—exactly one year after the release of Better Late. With three album releases in one year, Nat is just getting warmed up. Stay tuned for further developments here on the interweb, which is all ones and zeros. We promise not to use up all the ones.
Nat Freedberg & No Brainer rock Allston Rock City.
2A, NYC, 25 Ave. A, NYC
Nat Freedberg & No Brainer team up with Hayley Thompson King to bring seedy depravity back to the East Village.
Rum Bar Records lights up Roslindale's Square Root.
Rum Bar Records Damn then I barely made the discovery of the breathtaking music of this gentleman (http://voixdegaragegrenoble.blogspot.com/2019/02/chronique-nat-freedberg-bad-mojos.html) that here is already a new album. Obviously given the very high quality of the thing I do not risk complaining! Still sailing between Eternal Rock and Urban Folk, Nat Freedberg once again demonstrates his perfect mastery of songwriting! And what a voice! Velvety, slightly veiled, perfectly laid and comfortable on all registers. The guitar playing adapts to the more or less muscular context, always clear and ultra precise, muscular when necessary, swinging (honky tonk stuffed), sharp when the song demands it! Ok, the cover is not great. But it is at least simple, direct like the music presented here! Nat Freedberg invited a bunch of friends to join him, which makes for beautiful song arrangements, simple and never superfluous, and always judicious! Lots and lots of different guitars, electric or acoustic and maximum pleasure for the musicians AND the listener !!!
It only took 30 years for Nat Freedberg to put out a solo LP. All kidding aside, he’s been part of the Boston music scene since ’81 but had never released a record under his own name. And so, we get the appropriately titled Better Late Than Never. It was worth the wait. Really.
Freedberg’s voice is easy to like as it has real character. And his band, well, they’ve got a seriously good garage-blues sensibility. Together, they make for a pretty spectacular sounding unit.
The opening track, “Devil Rockin’ Man” has a big sound and the kind of chorus that sticks with you. If you need a frame of reference, it would have fit right in on The Fleshtones’ Powerstance! album had the song been born in 1991.
The title track is a real treat. Kevin Barry’s guitar weave acts as the hook that carries the rest of the tune perfectly. It corkscrews its way right into your cerebral cortex. While the tempo slows down a bit with “Only Takes a Minute”, it’s no less engaging than the songs before it. A hooky chorus and more ringing guitars make this one an absolute winner.
If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, then you know that I’ve been a Ducky Carlisle fan since his days in Syracuse, NY. So it’s no wonder that he’s turned up on another album that hits the target for me. This time, he plays drums as well as acting as the album’s producer. Another job well done for Ducky.
Nat Freedberg’s Better Late Than Never is available now through Rum Bar Records.
Maximum Volume, July 2019
Sometimes the beauty is in the simplicity, and that is the case here with Freeloader.
Imagine for a sec that you are Nat Freedberg. You were in a band called Upper Crust, before in the early spring you stuck a solo album out. But you had seven songs that were a bit too heavy for the singer/songwriter stuff you were doing.
What do you do?
Well, what I’d do is procrastinate, cos that’s my skill. Nat, though is made of sterner stuff than me, so he gathered together a load of mates from other bands (one of his former Upper Crust brothers, Jim Janota belts the crap out of the drums, Charles Hansen from MV faves Justine and the Unclean does the leads, and Jim Hanson from a load of outfits I don’t know from Seattle does the bass) and sticks them together with a couple of covers.
That is – if you are keeping track – nine tunes. And albums, apparently, have to have ten. So Nat, bless his heart, writes a closing song called “Ten Songs Make An Album” and hey presto, the job is done.
Now, there’s two things here. First, the song is superb. One of the best here – and there’s some crackers – but nothing, I’d argue, better exemplifies the no frills approach to rock n roll than that, right there.
To be fair, “Path Of Least Resistance” is not an album that requires too much more analysis, in all honesty. “Let’s Give Love Another Try” the opener, sounds like those bluesy LA Rockers, from Rhino Bucket to Blackeyed Susan that I bought a load of in the late 80s, and it happily, and without any type of self-consciousness, rhymes “miss you” with “kiss you” and doesn’t even care.
The rest, basically, is more of the same. “Back Of The Line” underlines my long-held belief that any song that sounds like AC/DC must rule. It is the law. “The Thing To Do” is just a little bit glorious. A sort of alternate take on Religious Education, the sort of lesson that – had we had it at Langley Secondary School in 1987 – I might paid attention too.
“Nobody Gives A Fuck” is a stark warning to anyone that looks for pity can look elsewhere, and its chug is absolutely without remorse. That all being said, “Halfway Decent” is genuinely brilliant. Love songs should be like this. Indeed, I’ll leave this verse here without further comment:
“I admit, baby, I ain’t denying. I look a little bit like Frankenstein. But then, they say true love is blind. Baby, you wouldn’t even have to look, you could even read a book, while I sneak up on you from behind.”
“Rag Doll” is one of the covers. It’s fair to say that unless the Four Seasons did an album of power pop that I don’t know about, then it never sounded like this, and the guitar line here is outstanding.
“Chick A Boom” goes disco – a bit – and is supremely catchy, and there’s not a lot to say about “The Highland Fling” except that Freedberg rhymes “lassie” with “piece of assy” and it gets more ludicrous from there.
The glam slam of “Will It Go Round In Circles” is better (but then that wouldn’t have been hard……) it retains the funkiness of Billy Preston’s original but does things its own way.
So, having spent 550 words discussing something simple the overriding feel is this: if you like rock n roll, you’ll like this. It’s impossible to resist.
WoNo (Netherlands), September 2019
The older reader will be reminded immediately of the K-Tel and Arcade Best Of and compilation albums from the 70s looking at the, hideous, artwork on the left here. Don't be fooled though. On offer is a great, dirty rock and roll album of a band around Nat Freedberg, who already featured on this blog with his first solo album in the winter of this year. Freedberg is a busy person as he also releases an album with the band Freeloader.
The reason for this high turnout is simple. Songs just pour out of him. The ones that did not really fit his solo album 'Better Late Than Never' were put aside, adding two covers and the aptly called and late penned last song 'Ten Songs Make An Album' to make up The Path Of Least Resistance. A band was assembled and it was only a matter of time for another bunch of recorded Nat Freedberg songs was a fact.
In the bio it says that the songs put aside are more rock oriented and I can only shout: YES, THEY ARE, as loud as I can, in order to be heard. The Path Of Least Resistance is far more direct than Freedberg's recent, oh so nice, solo album. You can hear it in the lead guitar playing by Charles Hansen, the fiery responses of Freedberg's rhythm and the ever pounding on of the bass (Jim Haggerty) and drums (Jim Janota). The four Boston scene veterans do not hold back for a second and show their love for Aerosmith induced rock and roll with a garage rock edge making the songs just this little more dangerous, thus nicer. Freedberg knows how to write a garage rock song and the band how to make it come alive.
There's something about the voice of Nat Freedberg. If there is a male equivalent to the witch's voice in the Grimms' Hansel and Gretel fairytale it is Freedberg's. I can imagine hearing him say "Nibble, nibble, like a mouse, who is nibbling at my house"? and scare the two children half to death. There's this gnaw to his singing, but it fits his rock perfectly. Even in 'Rag Doll', the Four Seasons song, he makes me forget the voice of Frankie Valli instantly. Who cares for that high and neat but slightly wining voice, when you have Nat Freedberg and a bunch of guitars to boot?
Freeloader offer ten excellent songs that will rock you all night long. From begin to end The Path Of Least Resistance offers quality. (Okay, if I have to add something less positive, I could have done without the tongue-in-cheek Scottish accent in 'The highland Fling'. Twist my arm, I dare you.) And to think that that final song was added the day before the recording session and is one of the better songs on the album. It is far beyond me why so little people in my home country have heard of Nat Freedberg and now most likely of Freeloader. This is an album truly deserving to be heard by all (garage) rock fans.
Making a Scene, November 2019
Those of you that long for the days of blaring, crunch rock n’ roll will enjoy these veteran rockers from Boston, Freeloader. Theirs is down and dirty, no frills rock, the kind that gets you shaking, sweating, and maybe even screaming. And, for whatever reason, it’s a sound heard rarely these days. Freeloader bandleader is Nat Freedberg – singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Drummer Jim Janota played with Freedberg in the Upper Crust. Bassist Jim Hagerty and lead guitarist Charles Hansen round out the quartet, who together have graced (or, by turns, disgraced) the Boston rock scene since the ‘80s.
Freedberg is the oldest and maybe the most died-in-the-wool rocker of the bunch, hearkening back to the early ‘80s, logging time in the Flies, the Titanics, the Satanics, the Clamdiggers, and the Upper Crust. Janota is generally considered the best rock drummer in the city but he’s still seeking regional gigs as is in-demand bassist Haggerty. Hansen is a world-class guitarist, teaches at Berklee, plays in several bands, and, like the others, stays close to home.
Freedberg released a solo album last February called Better Late Than Never. He continued to write songs that moved more into a hard driving rock direction. So, he returned to the studio with ace producer Ducky Carlisle and recruited these weathered rock warriors to round out the songs. With the presence of a title like “Nobody Gives a Fuck,” it’s clear where this crew is coming from – crank it up and let it rip. They transform one of two covers, The Four Seasons’ “Rag Doll” into almost unrecognizable fare with the dual guitar attack. They absolutely bludgeon Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles” with guitar fury.
Freedberg brought seven originals to the studio, one short of the requisite ten he wanted. So, he quickly composed the anthemic garage-rock, puck-infused “Ten Songs Make an Album” the day before it was recorded. Like many of these blasters, its resonating guitars attack may rattle around in your head long after the song mercifully ends. But, wait – there is no rest. In fact “Highland Fling” brings on Gothic rock and thumps even harder than the former. “Thing to Do” is a raging three chord workout.
Oh, the first half of the album offers high energy from the get-go. The album just maintains its unrelenting combustible high energy end to end. There are no ballads here, nothing even remotely close. It’s for the rock-crazed, unapologetic folks who love cranking up their car stereo or annoying their apartment neighbor because they just love “loud.” If that’s you, then this is yours. Blast away.
Big Takeover, Fall 2019
Four Boston barroom veterans unite for a set that’s comically haphazard on the surface, but has it where it counts. “Let’s Give Love Another Try” finds middle ground between The Replacements and Aerosmith, with a sloppy, loud rocker about a debauched bachelor hoping to woo an old lover who has long since moved on. Singer Nat Freedberg’s “Back of the Line” is another story of romantic doom, recalling the drive and crunch of AC/DC and featuring fretboard fireworks from Charles Hansen. Drummer and Upper Crust alumnus Jim Janota propels a pile-driving cover of Billy Preston’s 1973 #1 soul-pop gem “Will it Go Round in Circles” alongside bassist Jim Haggerty. The album breaks the fourth wall while celebrating the age-defying virtues of rock, concluding with the cheeky “Ten Songs Make an Album.”
Take Effect Reviews 8/19: Listen to The Path Of Least Resistance (Freeloader)
An assembly of Boston veterans with a penchant for retro rock sounds, Freeloader bring us 8 originals and 2 covers on this dual guitar record that’s all substance and no filler.
Though “Let’s Give Love Another Try” gets off to a ‘70s restrained, bluesy rock start, it isn’t long until the pace picks up with the riff heavy “Back Of The Line”, as well as the calculated power and melody of “The Thing To Do”.
Further along, Freeloader toss in a spirited reworking of “Rag Doll”, where backing vocals are in attendance, while the kinetic rhythm section of “Chick A Boom Boom” helps make this fuzzy rocker one of the album’s best.
Near the end, “Will It Go Round In Circles” touches on hard rock influences of many decades ago with funk nods, and “Ten Songs Make An Album” ends the listen with a bouncy power-popper where falsetto vocals are touched on.
If you’re a fan of rock’s past, the collective skill that is Freeloader will be a nostalgic, memorable and absolutely refreshing leap into garage rock, proto-punk and classic textures that we will never tire of.
Travels well with: AC/DC- High Voltage; Leon Russell- Carney