Eclectic pop power


The sultry voice of singer Erica Brant, left, refines the agressive edge of Brant’s other members, Van Lamothe, Shawn Sariti and Jason Barraza.

The sultry voice of singer Erica Brant, left, refines the agressive edge of Brant’s other members, Van Lamothe, Shawn Sariti and Jason Barraza.

Photo By David Robert

Brant performs at Cantina Los Tres Hombres in Sparks on Jan. 21 at 10 p.m. Must be 21 or older. $5 cover.

“This band rocks!” someone shouted out during a recent show at Walden’s Coffeehouse. They do more than that. Brant is a band that aims for variety and nails it.

“We don’t want to sound like every other band out there,” singer Erica Brant says.

Elements of pop, metal, Motown soul, groove, southern rock, grunge and punk blend smoothly into a distinct sound all their own.

“I like playing different styles,” says bassist Shawn Sariti. “It’s boring playing the same stuff over and over.”

The audience appeared anything but bored. Engaged throughout the show, people in the crowd were bobbing their heads, singing along and clapping.

Erica elicited hoots and hollers from the audience with her rich, soaring, soulful vocals. She’s a natural entertainer, charming the room with playful, laid-back banter between songs.

Versatile guitarist/songwriter Van Lamothe says he knew he’d struck gold when he auditioned her. He had placed ads in local papers for a vocalist and was disappointed by the first 40 or so respondents. Then he realized he’d forgotten to call Erica back.

“She sat on my couch and sang a Maroon 5 song for starters and blew me away!” he wrote in the band’s bio on their Web site, “I could not believe what I was hearing! A closet vocal prodigy!”

Her clear, pitch-perfect voice adds the sultry sounds of R&B and soul into music that’s surprisingly heavy.

Energetic young drummer Jason Barraza lays down a solid foundation with loud, aggressive beats that are also precise and intricate. His passion is punk, having played with local bands Nutraloaf, Set it Off, and Broken.

“I love it all,” he says. “JFA, NOFX, all punk music.”

His intensity is infectious, and Lamothe says Barraza’s drive inspires the band.

“A band is nothing without a great drummer,” says Lamothe. “Jason brings it.”

Sariti’s bass lines are complex and groovy and help make Brant’s music very danceable. He likes to lay down rollicking funk, reminding me of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If they’d been playing anywhere other than a coffeehouse that night, there would have been lots of bootie-shaking going on.

Lamothe is the veteran of the group, capable of conjuring up any sound on a guitar. He started with competent acoustic guitar work and moved into rocking riffs, power chords and blistering solos. During a heavy jam that recalled the glory years of Seattle grunge, he had the guitar howling. Someone asked him after the show if his fingers were sore.

Brant has a polished sound with well-crafted song structures. They have been together less than a year, and they’re serious about getting signed and making it as professional musicians. Sariti says he wants to play arenas and rock it on a huge sound system. They had a big sound for Walden’s smallish quarters. Barraza told me his goal is to make a career with Brant.

Summing up their style, Barraza offered two words: “Power pop.” And they do it very well.