Columbus-based indie artist brakence has been making Spotify-curated-playlist waves. On March 26th, he released punk2, a lyric driven album filled with quirky production choices and melodies that evoke sensibilities of Bon Iver and Frank Ocean. In a nutshell, the album is about self-discovery and coming of age.



On standout track “dropout,” brakence discusses leaving school at 17 to pursue bigger dreams. He talks about his family, luck, wasting money on drugs, and a new found freedom. Seems like it all worked out ok. Thanks to the use of internal rhyme, the lyrics just sound good, and when you read through them, they are good!

What I love about brakence’s songwriting is his ability to juxtapose bigger conceptual things, with these realistic and relatable moments. Lines about his hands falling asleep and low blood sugar are followed by “I don’t need loving but I want that cheap / So much luck that I’ve laughed to pieces.” Over the past few months, he’s been secretly tweeting lyrical Easter eggs from “dropout” and other tracks on Punk2.

His unique voice is front and center over a genre-bending beat. There are elements of hip-hop, r&b, acoustic, and pop rolled into one cohesive work. The verse begins with falsetto, a sound that is becoming a brakence signature. As the song goes on, we hear this distorted, almost clipping, effect on his vocal. This production choice really supports the raw emotion of the lyrics.

Up until recently, brakence has remained somewhat anonymous by not showing his face in any content. Since 2017, he’s gained a steady following on YouTube and Spotify. His 2020 singles landed on Fresh Finds, New Music Friday, Sad Vibe, and a handful of YouTube playlists, only setting the stage for what was to come. Punk2 and especially songs like “dropout,” serve as proof of the interesting and introspective places that alt pop music can go.


Arielle Tindel is a Berklee College of Music student from Cleveland, OH. She will graduate in December with degrees in Music Business Marketing and Songwriting. In her free time, Arielle can be found gardening or playing bass.