Brandan McMahon Universalist EP Cover

The cover for singer Brandan McMahon’s EP, ‘Universalist.’
Photo Credit: WhiplashPR

Artist: Brendan McMahon (a.k.a Satalite Gods)

EP: ‘Universalist,’ produced by Steve Vertigan of Soggy Dog Recording Studio in Upwey, Victoria

Revealing the natural ability to emotionally express the sentimental emotions that accompany nostalgic memories isn’t an ability that everyone possess. But Melbourne, Australia singer-songwriter Brendan McMahon has tapped into that passionate thematic thread in his latest EP, ‘Univeralist,’ which eclectically mixes such genres as rock, pop, country, Celtic, folk and blues. The dynamic five track album powerfully pays tribute to vital key life influences, including relationships and living environments, that have informed his life views, emotions and experiences.

McMahon’s new record begins with the reflective entry, ‘Marker 7-58,’ which chronicles the singer’s love of the nature park reserve that surrounded the studio in Victoria where he records his tunes. The opening track thoughtfully pays tribute to the humbling experience of being able to record expressive music in such a vastly calming, meaningful and enriching location. Fueled by emotional and atmospheric guitar riffs, McMahon’s folk-inspired and emotive vocals reflect on how the environment has left a sentimental meaning and peacefulness on his state of mind. The song would provide powerful meaning to an emotional movie or television score, as the musician strongly proclaims that nothing will break him. He also enthralling notes that he’s been fortified by, and appreciates, the time he spent at the park with his family.

‘Marker 7-58’ than transitions into the stunning pop-rock entry, ‘Hotel Hemingway,’ which was inspired by a trip that McMahon took to Havana. While on the vacation, he explored the Ambos Mundos, a famous hotel in the main square where Ernest Hemingway stayed and wrote in the years before his death. During the sophomore track, the singer directly addressed the famous novelist, while also reflecting on the legacy that he left behind. The musician’s second song effortlessly built off of the Britpop sound that was popular in the mid-to-late ’90s, which includes refreshing piano work. McMahoon’s joyful Rock-and-Roll vocals also request to hear the stories of Hemingway’s life, as well as the dreams he was never able to fulfill.

‘Univeralist’ then becomes more electrifying with the next tune, ‘Fridays In December.’ The soulful piano and energetic guitar creates an intriguingly dreamlike and riveting atmosphere. Also driven by a strong Celtic vocalization that would have made it a popular hit on commercial rock radio stations in the ’80s, the reflective soundscape brings not only McMahon, but also listeners, to a time when they were younger, and life was simpler.

McMahoon continues to share his passion on the piano driven ballad, ‘Mother.’ The emotional tribute to his own mom chronicles how she would comfort him and his three sisters during their times of pain. Driven by an emotional guitar, the song chronicles how thinking of his mother, who sadly passed away many years ago, makes the pain fresh all over again. But that emotional torment doesn’t take away from him lovingly and fondly reminiscing about her. The solemn and contemplative track will allow many listeners to draw on their own memories of loved ones who they strongly miss.

‘Univeralist’ ends with the powerful pop, rock and funk-infused tune, ‘Beat.’ Fueled by sizzling guitar riffs and a catchy chorus, the celebratory song is an edgy and memorable tribute to the first time McMahon recorded in the studio with his band, Satellite Gods. Also driven by an energetic and creative electric guitar that will undoubtedly capture many listeners’ attention, ‘Beat’ is a pulsating entry on the musician’s latest EP that once again proves his diverse and distinct talents. While ‘Beat’ is a bit more aggressive in tone than the singer’s previous tracks, and is loaded with distortion that keeps the adrenaline flowing, it’s still a powerful and stylish piece of music

‘Univeralist’ is an epic EP from the versatile McMahon, as it features a powerfully unique electronic funk and flair, with an equally captivating vocal melody. The Australian musician’s natural swagger enthrallingly drives his sentimentality, which is stunning infused into his vocals and instrumentation. His range of musical abilities becomes even more widespread on his most recent songs, as he effortlessly reacts to the relatable emotions and situations in his life. McMahon proves that he’s one of the most unique, compelling and creatively innovative musicians in a variety of genres, with his dynamic new EP that powerfully pays tribute to a variety of his key life influences.

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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