Top 25 Brandtson songs

Photo by me in perhaps 2001. This was a club (or room, ha!) in Nashville, TN. Anyone know the name of it? 

With Brandtson's vinyl discography now complete and available (see my Instagram below), I definitely have the band on the brain. Brandtson was one of my favorite bands for a long time (still are; and sure wish they were playing at Furnace Fest where they belong!). Between 1998 and 2003 I saw them at least a dozen, if not 15 times. I mostly saw them in many small, sweaty, hole-in-the wall clubs in Birmingham, Nashville, and Atlanta and went out of the way to go to as many of their high-energy shows as I could. I also saw them at a few festivals, from Cornerstone in Illinois to OneFest in Memphis.

Sadly, the last time I saw them was in Frankfurt, Germany in August of 2003. That was before Brandtson really came into their own with their phenomenal 2004 album Send Us a Signal, my #1 album of 2004. So many of the best Brandtson songs are from that album, and I never saw them performed. And then, Hello, Control, I admittedly never got that into, and the lack of seeing Brandtson live around its release definitely contributed. As I mention at length in my recent Instagram post, I am just now really getting into and loving Hello, Control.

As far as I am concerned, Brandtson is just as good as and could have been as big as Jimmy Eat World (seems silly, but it's all about opportunity). While "The Middle" sent Jimmy Eat World soaring into popularity, Brandtson never had that one hit song. (And arguably half the songs on Brandtson's Trying to Figure Each Other Out EP are better than "The Middle".) Prior to Bleed American, the bands were easy for me to compare, but now it's hard to as Jimmy Eat World has stayed active and productive for 25+ years, while Brandtson existed less than half that time and never had the budgets and promotion to share their music.

This is the best Brandtson video I have found online, except sadly one can't see the crowd at all. But this perfectly represents the Brandtson I knew and loved at all those shows. Brandtson was the perfect sing-a-long band. Perhaps my favorite band ever for singing along loudly in the car to. And I can't help but sing a long as I sit here writing this post.


Before we dive into the songs, here is the Brandtson releases ranked in my order of preference. I don't usually rank EP's along with LP's, but in Brandtson's discography they are essential.

1. Send Us A Signal 

2. Trying to Figure Each Other Out EP

3. Fallen Star Collection

4. Dial In Sounds

5. Hello, Control

6. Death & Taxes EP

7. Letterbox

Top 25 Brandtson Songs:


 1. "Boys Lie" from the 2000 Trying To Figure Each Other Out EP
While Brandtson released two full-lengths prior to this EP, this was honestly the first time they captured their high-energy live show in a recording. Summer of 2000 I probably listened to this EP in full daily. For the long time it was my favorite Brandtson "album" even though it is only six songs.

2. "Summer In St. Claire" from the 1999 Fallen Star Collection LP
The first time I saw Brandtson was at Slacker 66 in Birmingham (a venue run by Chad Johnson of Takehold Records and Furnace Fest). At the time of the show I had only heard the two songs on the first Deep Elm sampler, and their live show was SO MUCH BETTER than the quality of the Letterbox recording. Myk and Jared's dualing vocals were so unique and perfect. That show was a year before Fallen Star Collection dropped, and led to it being so highly anticipated from me.

3. "Guest List" from the 2002 Dial In Sounds LP
If I saw Brandtson 15 times, 10 of those times were prior to this album dropping. In 2000 and 2001 I practically followed Brandtson around the Southeast. One of the most memorable parts of those shows were hearing this song written and played live. It became the highlight of Brandtson shows before it was ever recorded and released.

4. "Throwing Rocks Tonight" from the 2004 Send Us A Signal LP
This is going to be the first of so many songs from Brandtson's uniquivocal best album, Send Us a Signal. Like I said, the last time I saw Brandtson play was August 2003 in Frankfurt, Germany. Before the show I sat at the bar and talked with Jared quite a bit. The band had finally fulfilled their Deep Elm contract and were being courted by new labels. I remember vividly Jared talking about the appeal of The Militia Group, especially the sales numbers from the debut album from The Beautiful Mistake. A year later this album dropped, and my jaw dropped to the floor. As Brandtson later revealed in interviews, this album was the first time Brandtson had a bigger budget and more time to write and experiment in the studio, and the results are glorious.

5. "Earthquakes And Sharks" from the 2006 Hello, Control LP
Probably the most unique and quirky Brandtson song, but my family absolutely loves it, and finds it hysterical.

6. "Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades)" from the 2000 Trying To Figure Each Other Out EP
Brandtson's best album opener, and also a song the band used to open shows frequently. Impossible not to sing along to!

7. "Just Breathe" from the 2004 Send Us A Signal LP
One of the heaviest Brandtson songs, but this one is mainly defined by all its different segments. Changing time signatures and instrumentation; full of surprises.

8. "Mark It At Zero" from the 2002 Dial In Sounds LP
Another song I probably heard performed live 5-6 times before it was ever recorded.

9. "Mexico" from the 2004 Send Us A Signal LP
If Brandtson ever had a radio hit, this would have been it. A mid-tempoed rocker that I frequently put on mixes for friends. Brandtson had developed so much as songwriters; "Mexico" would have not been possible earlier in their career.

10. "Little Birds And Spiders" originally from the 2004 Take Action! Vol. 4 compilation, where it was mislabeled "Little Birds and Sparrows". Later appeared in its proper place on the 2010 vinyl reissue for Send Us A Signal as track 2 and with its correct title.
As I recently tweeted, one of the biggest compliments I can give Brandtson is their ability to finish songs well. No matter how good the first 2/3 of a Brandtson song is, the final 1/3 is going to shift into another gear and completely kick ass. This track starts like a punk rock song, but then completely shifts. "And your flying gracefully!" Gives me chills.

Cornerstone Festival 2001, photo by me

11. "Blindspot" from the 1997 Letterbox LP. Was later rerecorded for the 2004 Send Us A Signal LP
This is Brandtson's "Deadbolt". This is easily the best song on Brandtson's first album, and the only one they continued to play throughout their career. Often the final song of a show.

12. "Leaving Ohio" from the 2000 Trying To Figure Each Other Out EP
I always liked how Brandtson wrote geography into their songs; so many mention places, cities, and states. You could learn a lot about where they were from just by listening. I guess this is inevitable if you are out on the road as much a they were.

13. "Escapist" from the 2004 Send Us A Signal LP
This is my wife's favorite Brandtson song, and until "Earthquakes and Sharks", the one that was the most different and distinct in their catalog. The chorus has Myk and Jared singing different lines simultaneously and its fantastic. It's got a more electronic beat and hinted at the direction Brandtson would go next.

14. "Drawing A Line In The Sand" from the 2004 Send Us A Signal LP
Because Send Us a Signal is so deep and good, this song maybe slips between the cracks. But 5 years earlier it could have been the band's best song.

15. "Shannon Said" from the 1999 Fallen Star Collection LP
I don't remember any song specifically from the first Brandtson show I saw in 1998, but "Shannon Said" reminds me the most of what that show sounded like.

16. "Cherokee Red" from the 2002 Dial In Sounds LP
John Sayre's bass playing often was fairly nondescript and sometimes buried in the mix. But on this song and album it moved into the forefront and this song especially displays the bass playing.

17. "Parallels" from the 2006 Hello, Control LP
This is one of those songs I mention in my recent Instagram post as Hello, Control has taken on a new life. Really strong songwriting and a fantastic hook--"Let it rain for now!"

18. "Ain't No Trip To Cleveland" from the 2003 Death & Taxes EP
I'm fairly certain I saw this song performed at that Frankfurt show, and really is the perfect live track, both musically and lyrically: "...We wrote this song, it's four chords long, we hope you sing along, so sing along..."

19. "As You Wish" from the 1999 Fallen Star Collection LP (A second remixed version appears on the Trying To Figure Each Other Out EP)
When the 2000 EP came out, I would usually listen to it in full, and as it wrapped up, then put on Fallen Star Collection. Listening to the remix before the original made "As You Wish" seem so epic.

20. "Goodnight Sweet Prince" from the 2006 Hello, Control LP

21. "With Friends Like You" from the 2002 Dial In Sounds LP

22. "Lie To Me" from the 2006 Hello, Control LP

23. "Dead Animals" originally from the 2003 Brandtson/Camber/Seven Storey Split EP. Later appeared in its proper place on the 2021 vinyl reissue for the Death & Taxes EP

24. "On Three" from the 2003 Death & Taxes EP

25. "Waking Up To Yellow" from the 1999 Fallen Star Collection LP

Frankfurt 2003, photo by me