Cait Brennan

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Cait Brennan
Also known as M. C. Brennan
Born (1969-02-14) 14 February 1969 (age 47)
Phoenix, Arizona
Genres Indie pop,
glam rock,
power pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, screenwriter, musician
Instruments vocals, piano, guitar, bass
Years active 2010–present

Wendilyn Marielle Caitlin Brennan (born February 14, 1969), better known by her stage name Cait Brennan, is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, guitarist and screenwriter. Brennan's musical style contains elements of piano-driven rock, alternative country, glam rock, Indie pop and power pop.[1] Her music and film work has been praised and earned her a cult following.[2][3][4][5] Her debut album, Debutante, was released January 22, 2016 to favorable reviews.[6][7][8][9][10]

Early life[edit]

Brennan was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the daughter of Linda Parker and musician Ron Dobbins.[1][11] Brennan was raised by her great-grandmother, a Thoroughbred horse racing seamstress, and grew up traveling across America, an experience she credits for her eclectic musical influences. She began a gender transition in her teens.[12]

Music career[edit]

Brennan's soulful, androgynous countertenor voice has been compared to Harry Nilsson, David Bowie, Etta James, John Lennon and Iris DeMent.[13] While her lead vocals generally hover in the mid-tenor, Brennan has a five-octave range and sings all the background harmonies on her albums.[1] Matt Keeley of Unicorn Booty dubbed her "Lady Nilsson" for her frequent homages to the late singer-songwriter.[14] Brennan's music combines melodic indie, soul, power pop and 1970s Glam Rock sensibilities with dense vocal harmonies and lyrics that occasionally draw on Vaudeville, Geek culture and Music hall themes.[15]

Beginnings (1989–2012)[edit]

Brennan began writing songs as a child; lacking in musical training, she sang songs into a simple cassette recorder, and eventually began her performance career while beginning a gender transition in her teens. After multiple incidents of violence, she stopped performing publicly for nearly two decades. [16] In 2009, reflecting on her 90s work, Curve (magazine) declared that Brennan "almost became the first great transgender rock star."[4] Brennan was interviewed by Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace in episode 3 of Grace's AOL Originals series "True Trans".[17][14]

Return to performance and Debutante (2012-2015)[edit]

Encouraged by friends who had heard her songs, Brennan returned to live performance in 2012, and quickly received praise for her work; Village Voice Media's Serene Dominic praised her as a "smart, melodic singer-songwriter," [18] and an early live performance and interview with Brennan was featured on the KAET/Tempe Center for the Arts public television concert series "Songwriters Showcase," which premiered on PBS stations in fall 2013.[19][20] The Arizona Republic named her one of "15 Artists To See" and praised the "cinematic sweep" of her songs.[21][22] Java Magazine's Mitchell Hillman echoed that praise, calling Brennan "a great musician and a formidable writer,"[23] and author Neil Gaiman praised her cover version of David Bowie's Five Years as "glorious".[3][24]

Brennan then joined the International Pop Overthrow festival, playing multiple shows in several cities beginning in 2012; she continues to play IPO dates as of 2016. IPO founder David Bash praised her as "a singer songwriter with a unique brand of glitter glam soulful rock n’ roll sung straight from the heart. Plus, you gotta love anyone who can channel Roy Orbison, Elton John, Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, and Etta James in the space of a single set."[2]

Her debut album, Debutante, was co-produced by Brennan and Fernando Perdomo, a producer and rock artist who also co-produced Linda Perhacs' widely acclaimed 2014 album The Soul of All Natural Things for Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty records, and has performed with Fiona Apple, Beck, Todd Rundgren and Jakob Dylan.[25] Perdomo and Brennan met as fellow artists on the International Pop Overthrow festival in 2012, and quickly became friends; Brennan appears in Perdomo's "Smile" music video,[26] and Perdomo has played in Brennan's touring band.[27]

The album was recorded in five days.[28] Brennan funded the initial production of the album through Kickstarter and exceeded her funding goal in just 69 hours.[29] During the campaign, Brennan received support from Laura Jane Grace, Neil Gaiman, and John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.[30] The first track released from Debutante was "Dear Arthur," which was featured as a Paste exclusive premiere in mid-January 2016.[31] Presenter Ros Barclay of CamGlen Radio in Glasgow was the first terrestrial radio broadcaster to play the song.[32]

WFMU presenter Evan "Funk" Davies was an early champion of Brennan and Debutante, giving the record its first US terrestrial radio airplay and frequently playing numerous tracks from the album on his eponymous show. [33]

The album received widespread acclaim; writing in PopDose, Keith Creighton said Debutante " right up there with the great “drenched in blood, sweat & tears, leave everything on the table, conquer the world” albums like Against Me!’s New Wave, Guns & RosesAppetite for Destruction, Green Day’s American Idiot and Smashing PumpkinsGish."[34] American Songwriter's Peter Gerstenzang said "Debutante depicts an artist remarkably conversant with the last forty years of Pop, who is able to blend her influences and obsessions into one glimmering musical gem after another." Describing the experience of listening to her music in the wake of David Bowie's passing, he said "Now that we have lost that glorious weirdo, David Bowie, it’s also nice to know that a new one, Cait Brennan, is hovering into view...which feels like a bit of solace for those of us who felt Bowie’s loss so keenly. In other words, it’s nice to have a new songwriter out there, who is so...out there."[13] Popshifter's Melissa Bratcher said Brennan "has one of the best pure rock voices you’re likely to hear. Marry that to an insane range and so-sweet-they-melt-in-your-ear harmonies, and then add them to the sundae of glorious melodies and whip-smart lyrics and you’ve got yourself a mixed metaphor. But you’ve also got a stunning debut...Cait Brennan has made a glimmering record full of heart and hope and harmony. It’s a timeless album; joyful, clever, and wonderful. You owe it to yourself to hear her.[35] The Arizona Republic's Ed Masley said ""This pop classicist has packed her first album with songs that marry timeless hooks to introspective lyrics. Setting the tone with the wistful, Mccartney-esque intro of “Good Morning and Goodnight,” the singer delivers an album that should speak to several generations of power-pop enthusiasts, whether they cut their teeth on Big Star and the Raspberries or Teenage Fanclub in the ‘90s."[36]The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jon M. Gilbertson said the album "deserves as much attention for its mid-1970s eloquence as for the fact that Brennan is transgender and 46."[37] Writing for Rust, Eric Peterson said "Cait Brennan’s music is as powerful and individual as she is, and Debutante is an example of an artist putting everything they have into their work."[38]Writer Todd Alcott described it as "hearkening to the days when pop music albums were created to get lost in, with lush harmonies and intricate multi-layered arrangements, Debutante has its roots in English pop, roughly the decade between Penny Lane and This Year's Model, taking in Diamond Dogs and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and stuffing in healthy chunks of Aztec Camera as well, with lyrics that are simultaneously deeply personal and broadly universal. The fact that it was recorded in the space of time usually set aside for fine-tuning a snare-drum sound makes her achievement all the more remarkable."[28] Longtime music industry executive Marc Nathan, who helped spearhead bands such as Barenaked Ladies, raved that Debutante "may become a life-changing experience for someone out there" and that "Cait is someone who deserves to be brought to the forefront with this album. I've heard it, I've lived in it, I've loved it. It fits."[39]

Sire Records and Introducing The Breakdown According To Cait Brennan (2016-present)[edit]

The independently released Debutante caught the ear of Sire Records President Seymour Stein, who discovered The Ramones, Talking Heads, Madonna and many others. Stein signed Brennan to a demo deal with Sire/Warner Bros. Records in June of 2016. [40] Brennan is recording demos for Sire in Los Angeles with producer Andy Paley.

After Debutante, Brennan initially announced that the followup to Debutante would be called Jinx, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Sophomore slump. Sessions for the album took place in December 2015. [10] But in March 2016 while on the Debutante tour, Brennan developed a serious infection from a cat bite, and subsequent complications led to a life-threatening illness. The remainder of the tour was canceled, and during her hospital stay and subsequent recovery, Brennan drastically revised the finished Jinx masters and wrote a number of new songs. The resulting album, Introducing The Breakdown According To Cait Brennan, is slated for a Fall 2016 release on Brennan's own Black Market Glamour label. [40] [41] [42]

A live album, From The City Of New York, was recorded at Rockwood Music Hall in February 2016 on the abbreviated Debutante tour, and released in June 2016. [43]

Writing and Film[edit]

Brennan co-wrote the screenplay for the romantic comedy "Love Or Whatever",[44] directed by Rosser Goodman, which made its world premiere at the 2012 Frameline Film Festival.[45] She also appears in the film.[44][46] Bay Area critic George Heymont praised the film as "a rowdy romp" and "that rare gem: a sexy and intelligent gay romantic comedy."[47][48] TLA Releasing released the film in Fall 2014.[49] While in college, Brennan received the Arizona Commission on the Arts Screenwriting fellowship in 2002,[50] and the following year, she won the Phoenix Film Festival's Best Screenplay award for "The People's Choice".[51][52] Brennan was honored with the Outfest Screenwriting Lab Fellowship in 2007 for her comic homage to 1980s John Hughes films, "Dramatis Personae".[53][54] In October 2007, the Rhode Island International Film Festival awarded first prize to Brennan and "Dramatis Personae" in their annual screenwriting honors.[55] In 2014, Brennan co-wrote (along with writer Doug Bost) the Alzheimer's-focused short "Policy Of Truth", directed by Nick Demos.[56]

In 2010 she joined the staff of Phoenix's LGBT-focused Echo Magazine.[44][57] and is currently the magazine's music critic. Brennan is also a contributing writer at the pop-culture web magazine Popshifter.[58]

Personal life[edit]

Brennan is bisexual.[59][60] She has credited Buddhism as an influence on her life and work.[60]


  • 2015 – Debutante
  • 2016 – From The City Of New York (live)
  • 2016 - Jinx (unreleased)
  • 2016 – Introducing The Breakdown According To Cait Brennan


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  17. ^ Rettig, James (10 August 2015). "Watch the first four episodes of AOL's True Trans with Laura Jane Grace; Stereogum". Stereogum. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
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  19. ^ "Tempe Center for the Arts". Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
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  32. ^ "Planet Cait - "Dear Arthur" airplay". 19 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  33. ^ "WFMU -The Evan "Funk" Davies Show - Playlists". 18 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
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  36. ^
  37. ^ "Journal-Sentinel - New Albums This Week: John Cale, Cait Brennan, Ty Segall". 22 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  38. ^ "Rust Magazine - Cait Brennan to drop Debutante January 22". 7 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  39. ^ Nathan, Marc (3 August 2015). "Cait Brennan - Debutante Kickstarter; Facebook". Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  40. ^ a b Masley, Ed (17 June 2016). "Cait Brennan inks a demo deal with Seymour Stein for Sire/Warner Bros. Records". Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  41. ^ "Introducing The Breakdown According To Cait Brennan - Amazon". 17 June 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  42. ^ "Pause And Play - Updates / Additions: Jack Ingram, Cait Brennan, etc.". 2016-05-07. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  43. ^ "Cait Brennan - From The City Of New York - Bandcamp". 18 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  44. ^ a b c "Echo Magazine - Local screenwriter's film to have premiere at San Francisco film festival". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  45. ^ "Love Or Whatever - Frameline36". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
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  47. ^ "George Heymont - My Cultural Landscape: Lover, Come Back To Me". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  48. ^ "Huffington Post - George Heymont". Retrieved 2012-09-26. 
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  50. ^ Robertson, Anne (2002-06-23). "Phoenix Business Journal 2002-06-24.". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  51. ^ "Phoenix Film festival 2003 Screenwriting Prize Announcement". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  52. ^ "Neil Cohen, Reel Thoughts - Echo Magazine, April 2003". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  53. ^ "Outfest Screenwriting Lab fellows". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  54. ^ "Windy City Media - Trans Year In Review 2008-01-02". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  55. ^ "Rhode Island International Film festival announces 2007 Winners". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  56. ^ "Broadway World - Policy Of Truth". Retrieved 2015-08-10. 
  57. ^ "Echo Magazine". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  58. ^ " contributors". Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  59. ^ List of bisexual people (A–F)
  60. ^ a b "Jacob Anderson-Minshall - SF Bay Times 2007-08-30". Retrieved 2012-09-26. 

External links[edit]