Brandi and the Alexanders
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Brandi and the Alexanders

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band R&B Soul





here are only seven songs on the new Brandi and the Alexanders EP, REFLECTION, but it seems more substantial than that. It’s not because the songs are long. The tracks are short: the longest one is less than five minutes and the shortest cut a mere 34-second snippet of conversation. In addition, there’s a one-minute-plus opening non-musical introduction. The whole record only takes about 22 minutes to hear.

Brandi Thompson’s big voice and the four-piece rhythm and blues combo that backs her up offer a solid and very filling groove. The EP has a strong spiritual and emotional depth that suggests more is going on than meets the ear. Whether the songs concern racism, family matters, or dancing, one feels the music as well as hears it.

Thompson sings with authority. She raises her volume and pitch as needed to make her points and understands the art of staying controlled to create intimacy. Thompson shows her vulnerability in the gospel-inflected “Amen” by quietly delivering such lines as “I’m not a believer / But sometimes I pray.” The song builds to a climax through the way the vocals change in intensity. Her search for love mirrors a congregation’s seeking of god’s grace. While the interchanges between secular and church music go back to the origins of rock (think of Sam Cooke and Ray Charles), Brandi and the Alexanders harken back to this tradition and make the music sound as fresh today as it was then.

“Where You Belong” and the beat-heavy “Watch You Dance” have a much funkier presence. Thompson gulps her vocals to add rhythm and then echoes herself as necessary to create a smooth vibe. She gets excited and isn’t afraid to let you know before the passion fizzles out (and it does on “Belong”). The instrumentalists frequently take the lead to propel the action further, especially in “Dance”. This is music to move to, not sit quietly and listen. A person listening while driving a car would be tempted to exceed the speed limit to keep pace.

Thompson addresses the historical circumstances and current events on “Fire”, which burns with a fevered intensity. In a recent interview, she noted that “the lyrics came to me while watching the marches right after George Floyd’s death. Singing “Fire” evokes that pride. I feel it oozing out every time I sing it, so I know the audience senses it. It’s a song that instills confidence and informs listeners of the bravery and perseverance of African-Americans past and present, and reminds listeners, despite what some might think, that Black people are better than they know.” One can tell that she and the band are performing with a purpose. The song expresses confidence, even a bit of arrogance, about one’s presence in the world.

The title REFLECTION suggests looking backward. The music on the album does reach back to classic styles from the past for inspiration. Brandi and the Alexanders take these influences into the present. The songs may cause one to remember something or someone that was once important. But they don’t stop there. - Pop Matters


Everyday, artists try to come out with the next best thing. They’re eager to reinvent music genres and even change the scope of the music scene forever. Though, others like Brandi & The Alexanders go back to the classics. The 5-piece, genre-bending, soul-rock band from New York strives to bring back disco funk with every new track they release.

Originally acting as an R&B cover band, they started releasing their own original material in 2016. Drawing heavy influences from Southern blues music and 70s funk, the band dropped their debut album How Do You Like It? in 2018.

Following the album’s release, Brandi & The Alexanders opened for various musicians such as Moonchild. Additionally, they headlined festivals like Chicago area’s Naperville Ribfest, which was a dream come true for their lead singer Brandi Thompson.

In 2021, the funky band experimented with new sounds, productions and techniques. The end result led to their newest project, REFLECTIONS, an accumulation of Thompson’s personal narratives and life experiences as a Black woman in America. The EP, slated for release in September, touches on several different aspects of Thompson’s life, such as family, heartache and self-confidence.

It even discusses temptation, as seen in her recently dropped track “Watch You Dance” off the upcoming EP. Brimming with disco and funky vibes, the band’s newest track tells of the instant attraction between two young lovers meeting on the dance floor. - HypeFresh

"Soul-rock act Brandi & The Alexanders drop new EP 'REFLECTION'"

NYC soul-rock quintet Brandi & The Alexanders showcase different sides of their artistry and personal experiences on new EP REFLECTION, a seven-track collection led by powerhouse vocals and infectious grooves.

Rooted in complex lyricism and experimental instrumentation, the EP encapsulates the two years our world stood still, delving into themes of self-reflection, self-doubt, and identity that come together as an emotive and layered sonic experience.

Opening with empowering tones of “Black Mother Queen Reflection,” before moving into more anthemic yet soulful sensibilities with “Where You Belong,” and “Fire,” the EP meditates on everything from family and heartache to Black empowerment and self-confidence.

Stand-out sultry number “Watch You Dance,” definitely gets you moving along with the husky yet bold vocals before the EP comes to an end on a quieter note with the echoing beats and soaring vocal lines of “Amen.”

Speaking of the album, the band says, “The album is like a mirror that showcases the different sides of the band, who we are and what we've been thinking about over the last two years. All of the songs on this album are intensely personal reflections of me and range from musings on my upbringing to my moments of loneliness and desire. However, I feel like these are all experiences that everyone can relate to in some way or another.”

Starting off as a nine-piece classic R&B cover band in 2014, Brandi and the Alexandersbegan carving a space for themselves with bluesy Southern soul and rock influenced sound in 2016. Slowly yet surely honing their passionate musicality, REFLECTION is yet another creative step forward in the band’s journey. - Ear Milk


When Brandi & The Alexanders sent over a song called “FIRE,” my mind couldn’t help but immediately go to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and the catchy chorus—We didn’t start the fire // It was always burning, since the world’s been turning—sandwiched between verses that are more like lists, a series of lyrics alluding to world events ranging from war and crime to sports and scandal, problems in society, politics and pop culture, between the years 1949 and 1989. Inspired (according to Wikipedia) by a conversation with a 21-year-old friend of Sean Lennon, the idea is that every generation has their problems. They’ve always existed, and these struggles, and our need to fight, are nothing new.

So let’s get back to Brandi & The Alexanders’ new song, a soul-rock-funk anthem inspired by Brandi Thompson’s experience as a Black woman and structured around, and starring, her powerful and emotionally stirring voice. SimIlarly, this track is about a need to fight that has persisted for generations, but rather than a list of singular issues, it hones in one particularly intense and tragic one, a sickness that’s plagued our nation for centuries. And in this case, the fire in question isn’t referring to what’s being fought, per se, but what—or moreso who—is doing the fighting. Sparked by the protests that swept our nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, this song is named for and rooted in the fire that lives inside the artist, her ancestors, and those who have and are continuing to battle racism, discrimination, and horrific acts of inequality and violence every day.

From Brandi and the Alexanders, a day ahead of its release, this is “FIRE.”

Brandi and the Alexanders · FIRE
Ahead of the song’s drop, Brandi shot over some background on the track and some personal insights on the song and the movements, present and past, that inspired it.

“In the spring of 2020, a second Civil Rights Movement overwhelmed the United States. I was as swept up in the movement as anyone, but I decided to write a song to not just stand against the brutality that was happening that spring but to remind my listeners that this brutality and discrimination is not new; my ancestors survived similar brutality and discrimination – like that which we saw in 2020 and the many years prior – for centuries. I’m proud to be a product of my ancestors who survived generation after generation; their strength is my strength, and I wrote this song to honor them. As the saying goes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. Theirs are the shoulders on which I stand and which have gotten me where I am today.”

In other words, the fire is one that’s long been burning and that can’t, and won’t, be extinguished. One that has been passed on as new generations continue to pick up the torch, continue writing the story and keep fighting the fight until one day, god willing, there will be a generation who won’t have to.

Brandi & The Alexanders were scheduled to celebrate the single release on Friday night at Rockwood Music Hall, but one of the members unfortunately caught COVID, so the show will now be rescheduled. However, if you want to know what the rest of the band is up to the rest of the weekend, subscribe to THE SETLIST to get an itinerary written by Brandi & the Alexanders delivered straight to your inbox tomorrow. And while you’re here and online, check out Brandi’s favorite places in Brooklyn from our interview with the talented artist back in 2019. - BANDS DO BK

"Song Premiere: Brandi And The Alexanders “Where You Belong”"

Americana Highways is hosting this premiere of Brandi and the Alexanders’ song “Where You Belong,” from their forthcoming album Reflection, due to be released this coming Friday. Reflection was engineered by Quinn McCarthy; produced by Quinn McCarthy, Eric Gottlieb, and Brandi Thompson; mixed by Quinn McCarthy, Ken Helminger, and Eric Gottlieb; and mastered by Fred Kevorkian and Brent Miller.

“Where You Belong” is Brandi Thompson on vocals; Eric Wendell on bass; Nick Fokas on guitar; and Eric Gottlieb on drums, synths, and keys. Brandi and the Alexanders make exciting blues vibes happen. Sometimes we break up with a friend and move on, and the pain still needs to be processed just like any other loss. This song explores how closure ultimately happens. Take a sneak preview listen and pre-save the rest of the album below for more lush music.

The idea for this song was conceived long after a breakup with a friend, with whom I was very close. For years after, despite how they treated me toward the end of our friendship, I longed for that friendship and dreamed of ways to reconcile. Though I eventually realized I was better off without them, I wanted to capture that feeling of wanting something you know isn’t healthy for you, and feeling as though the person who hurt you is the only one who can fix what they broke. – Brandi and The Alexanders - Americana Highways

"Brandi and the Alexanders Bring Sweaty Retro Soul Energy On “Fire”"

Thanks to the curious and generous offerings of labels like Daptone in the last decade, the soul-revival movement has brought a series of true to the bone gritty and rhythmic artists that seem right out of a black and white magazine photo from 1962. NYC-based genre-bending soul-rock five-piece Brandi & The Alexanders fit that tightly wound sound with their explosive sounds and have announced their next EP, Reflection (slated for a July 1st release).

Glide is premiering their lead single “Fire”: a high-energy funk-meets-blues-meets-rock-n-roll anthem. Featuring a sweeping arrangement of 70’s-tinged backbeats, timeless harmonies and Brittany Howard meets Sharon Jones powerhouse vocals, “Fire” sets the stage for what Brandi & The Alexanders do best: tell a story that needs to be told.

On the story behind the song, lead singer Brandi Thompson shares: “The spring of 2020, a second Civil Rights Movement overwhelmed the United states. I was as swept up in the movement as anyone, but I decided to write a song to not just stand against the brutality that was happening that spring, but to remind my listeners that this brutality and discrimination is not new; my ancestors survived similar brutality and discrimination – like that which we saw in 2020 and the many years prior – for centuries. I’m proud to be a product of the ancestors who survived generation after generation; their strength is my strength, and I wrote this song to honor them. As the saying goes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. Theirs are the shoulders on which I stand and which have gotten me where I am today.”

Brandi and the Alexanders · FIRE
Please tell us about your latest single “Fire” and more of the story behind the song.

[Brandi] “Fire” was written in the late spring of 2020. I feel like 2020 was our second civil rights movement in a way, because a lot of things that the black community has been complaining about and criticizing for a number of years finally came to a head. I was not in the city at the time and was trying to isolate my unvaccinated toddlers from the coronavirus, so I felt like I was on the outside watching in. As a result, I think it was a little easier for me to step back and contextualize everything that was going on, and put it into song. To me, the song – and that Spring – highlighted inequities that have been happening since my ancestors were taken from Africa and brought to the United States. It reminded me of the injustices and inequities my grandparents and parents related to me from their own personal experiences. Witnessing it all firsthand in the 21st century was both terrifying and eye-opening, and I couldn’t help to be moved. For me, the best way to express everything that I was feeling was through song, and that’s how “Fire” was born.

[Eric] It started out when Brandi emailed the band a single piano line with her singing over it, with no context haha, but immediately I was like, “Oh this is not just any song”. We had a few different demos, in-studio and on my laptop, enough probably for a montage. There was a chill version, a heavy west coast 90s version, a Sonic Youth kind of iteration, and a lot more until it got to a place that really reflected what Brandi was feeling, and then from there, we recorded several versions right up until release. I really feel once Brandi’s stacked vocals replaced the piano, everything from there kind of clicked to support this anthemic march kind of sound.

You’re gearing up to release your next album. What can you tell us about the record and what does it mean to you?

[Brandi] This album was a labor of love, that’s for sure. Without the love of the music, I don’t know if this would have been made. 2020 was full of video conference calls, making demo voice recordings in my closet “sound booth”, and strategizing about how to even make music at a time when you can’t do it face to face. Other musicians who didn’t have families had the luxury of being able to risk getting together because the risks were so low, but, for me and some of my bandmates, getting together meant potentially getting vulnerable unvaccinated children or the elderly sick. When we finally decided it was safe enough to go to a studio, we couldn’t record in the same place at the same time, and when we got together in small pairs to record, we were all wearing masks, but it felt great to make music together, especially after having not seen each other in person for the better part of a year. For me, I think this album really made me realize how important music is to me and how crucial it is for me to continue making it.

This album was also a very personal body of work. It touched on a lot of my inner thoughts: racism, desire, loneliness, my parent’s divorce, etc. I’m typically a very guarded person, and this merge of this album is pretty soul-bearing. I won’t be crushed if people don’t like it, but I really hope they do!

[Eric] There were a lot of phone calls that felt therapy-adjacent to get Brandi to open up, and so I could help produce this EP into not just a collection of songs that we had, and the band could find places to instrumentally shine and support the arrangements. Everything has intention behind it, and in the demoing process, we got to a place on this EP that I feel was spiritually produced by Gamble & Huff, Anderson.Paak, and Freddie Perren. So it’s R&B and Soul and rock, but as you play the songs, there’s this texture and storyline of Brandi keeping things connected.

Finally, what else is next for you? Will you be touring the album? Any other projects/goals for the near future?

[Brandi] We are doing a lot of performances this year up and down the Eastern corridor. We haven’t forgotten that covid is a thing, so we are not booking a ton, but we’re keeping ourselves busy and reconnecting with our fans. Our next project will be a full-length album, and we’ve had a lot of demos on the notepad and sketched out in MIDI form, ready and waiting! - Glide Magazine

"Brandi and the Alexanders Make Auspicious Soul/Funk Debut with ‘How Do You Like It?’"

The kick in the Brandy Alexander is the cognac/brandy, smoothed out by fresh cream and crème de cacao. This new soul-rock band from Brooklyn takes their name from the cocktail as powerhouse vocalist Brandi Thompson delivers plenty of kick, while her supporting Alexanders flesh out the sound, not necessarily smoothly but more often with a tremendous punch too, usually in a nine-piece configuration with blaring horns. They are a funk and soul band with deep roots in the NYC music scene, a crowd-pleasing live act making their debut.

Thompson wrote eleven of these radio-friendly dozen tunes, telling stories of love, regret, jealousy. In the heydays of pop and R&B radio decades ago, some of these tunes might have become classics. They bring back those Muscle Shoals and Memphis sounds. One curious cover is Ozzy Osbourne’s “Paranoid.” Maybe you’ve seen Brandi’s name on recordings from Daptone artists such as Aloe Blacc, Nick Waterhouse, Jay Stolar, and Animal Years. She was born in Chicago to a Doo Wop singing dad and has traveled the U.S. and Europe as a backup vocalist. Now she is stepping out as the frontwoman.

At a time when the passing of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, brought many of Aretha’s classic hits back to radio, along comes Brandi and the Alexanders with a contemporary approach but a similar galvanizing soulful feeling. Check out her performance of “God Bless America” at a Citi Field Mets game on YouTube or their session at Paste, also on YouTube. The opening title track has already been released as a single. Brandi’s arresting vocal soars above the churning funk.

The next track, “Higher,” co-written with three of her bandmates, brings some classic R&B, propelled by the horns and swirling organ. It’s a mix of funk, R&B, and rock as the album unfolds, produced and engineered by multi-instrumentalist Quinn McCarthy. The band has a tremendous sense of dynamics, epitomized by the highly danceable “I’m In Love,” which slows to whisper midway through like a train instantly braking before raving up again. There’s little choice but to follow that breakneck tune with a ballad. “Jealousy” does just that as Brandi proves she can croon and caress the lyrics just as well as she can belt them.

The rather smooth R&B groove stays intact for “Paranoid” before revving up the funk for “Running Around,” dialing down for “Love Songs,” and keeping this alternating tempo across the next four tracks before reaching one of the clear standouts, the closing “Bad Love,” where Thompson showcases both the musical and emotional range of her stunning voice. It’s breathtaking.

As mentioned, the core band members have interesting pedigrees and interests. Guitarist Nick Fokas, hails from Queens and is a former professor of Greek and Roman history. He’s a former member of the seminal local NYC band, Reserved for Rondee and is steeped in psychedelic rock and shredding. The bassist Eric Wendell is from Long Island and a published author (Patti Smith: America’s Punk Rock Rhapsodist, Experience Herbie Hancock) with Rowman & Littlefield. He holds a masters in jazz history form Rutgers. Ethan Simons, the keyboardist, comes by way of NOLA and Boston. He also plays in the indie-pop=synth band The Shack and has a cameo appearance in this year’s upcoming season of HBO’s The Deuce. Drummer Eric Gottlieb grew up with guitarist Eric Wendell and the two have been playing together for years. Gottlieb is also Assistant Program Director at WFUV radio in New York.

Brandi and the Alexanders have delivered a debut that packs the punch of a dozen cocktails. Drink it in, shake your feet, and enjoy! - Glide Magazine

"Brandi and the Alexanders (Review)"

Brandi & The Alexanders (from the album How Do You Like It? available on Red Parlor Records)
The Blues is in the rhythm as the songs stand up and shout on the How Do You Like It? debut from Brandi & the Alexanders. The mood is merry in the stories as the Brooklyn, NYC Rock ‘n’ Soul combo offer a hand to the heart standing next to them on “I’m in Love” as a deep groove helps the band in their search for something real in “Love Songs”. Funky guitar chords are the blessings received in “Lucky” while the beat pops in burst as Brandi calls ‘time up’ with the title track. Smooth Soul is the welcoming sound that gently guides the guitar lines snaking along below the crooning confessions of Brandi & The Alexanders as the offer a take on the Black Sabbath tune, “Paranoid”.

The band stayed close to home, recording in the neighborhood at Brooklyn’s The Creamery Studio. Pointing fingers with words propelled by rock’n’roll guitars How Do You Like It? identifies a “Drama Queen” while the horn section blows accents as a uptown beat heads out on to the dance floor with “Higher” while a slowly turning rhythm calms the sharp emotions poking out of “Jealousy” and a low-powered pace asks for love to come back home in “Running Around”. Psychedelia doses the tracks on Brandi & The Alexanders with soulfully cool grooves as the band whisper the truth about “Bad Love”, put a darkness under groove “Pulling Me Down” and strut out a rhythm to wrap around “Shapeshifter”.

Listen and buy the music of Brandi & The Alexanders from AMAZON - Alternate Route

"Elmore Magazine"

To say that Brandi Thompson has a killer set of tonsils is truly an understatement. Her soulful vocals and incredible range are a highlight of her and The Alexanders debut, “How Do You Like It.” Interestingly enough, the title cut is not the strongest, and is actually eclipsed by retro-esque tracks like “Higher,” “I’m In Love,” “Drama Queen” and the achingly-soulful “Bad Love.” Her band is tight and disciplined, backing skillfully with quality arrangements and never stealing from the focal point of Thompson’s lyrics or her Aretha/Mariah-sounding vocals. They sound like they’re a very-hot live act, and when they put their mind to it they really rock. However, one wishes with the (at times) condensed sound on the album, that they’d shift into overdrive with more interplay between them. Down and dirty, Soul is what captured this listener’s attention, and when they really get down with the funk… i.e., wah-wah pedals, distortion boxes, and chunka-chunka-guitar rhythms….they hit the bull’s-eye every single time.

From How Do You Like It, the only direction Brandi and The Alexanders are going is up.

—Bob Girouard - Elmore Magazine

"Looking Back On A Year of Music (2018)"

Want some straight-ahead, funky, rocking soul music? Brandi and the Alexanders deliver a soulful gumbo straight out of Stax (though the album was recorded in Brooklyn), driven by propulsive guitars and fueled by driving horns. How Do You Like It? is a heady brew, stirred to perfection by Brandi Thompson’s soaring vocals; she elevates every song on the album with an energy that carries the other musicians with her into the stratosphere. She turns in a slow-burning version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” that lays bare that song’s psychic foundations. Brandi and the Alexanders’ music crawls under your skin and occupies your soul. - No Depression


2018 - How Do You Like It (Red Parlor Records)

2020 - Live In Brooklyn! 

3.5.22 - "Fire" Single Release

7.5.22 - "Watch You Dance" Single Release

9.2.22 - Reflection 



Brandi and the Alexanders is a 6-piece genre-bending rock-and-soul band from New York City. Initially formed in 2014 as a 9-piece classic R&B cover band, by 2016 they had begun writing original material inspired by classic blues, soul, rock and 70s-era funk albums, culminating in their 2018 debut, How Do You Like It? (Red Parlor Records). 

Following the release, the band performed extensively, opening for incredible performers like Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram, Southern Avenue, Moonchild and Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed, and making appearances at Nashville’s Americanafest (2018), Tryon Blues Festival, as well as the Chicago area’s Naperville Ribfest - a fun, personal goal of singer and Chicagoland native Brandi Thompson. The band pressed on with touring and gigging throughout early 2020, performing at Brooklyn Bowl just two weeks before NYC went into lockdown. As a stroke of luck, that performance happened to be recorded and was digitally released in November 2020 as their Live In Brooklyn! album.

In 2021, quietly and remotely, the band began demoing new music by incorporating different production and recording techniques. As they traded emails and instrument tracks, however, they began to see the introspective nature of the songs; while the tunes were Brandi's collection of personal stories and feelings, they somehow managed to encapsulate a broader American story and feminine history. Brandi’s stories, observations and experiences as a Black woman became the narrative focus of their new EP, REFLECTION, as it captured universal themes to which everyone could relate. As the span of topics widened, so did the musical influences: St. Vincent-baptized guitar lines, Purple Rain-era Prince synth and gospel organ, Isaac Hayes-styled arrangements, 90’s G-Funk inspired bass and drums, all backing Brandi’s cinematic vocals. 

Brandi and the Alexanders' REFLECTION is many things. It is a labor of love. It is a vibe. But, above all, it is a collection of raw, human moments - snapshots that capture family, Black empowerment, heartache, self-confidence and even temptation; moments that simultaneously connect and divide us as they reflect the very essence of our collective humanity.

Band Members