Tag: Marco Benevento
When writing this review I thought of all the times I’ve seen Marco perform over the years – I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s somewhere around 15. And this gig the other night was actually the first time that I thought things fell a little flat. So that’s a pretty good batting average the dude’s got in my book. No, it wasn’t just because I hate the new songs that have vocals so much, but that definitely didn’t help things out. Here’s an excerpt of the review below, and read the whole thing HERE at State of Mind Music.
“…Now don’t get me wrong, the performance was spectacular. There’s a reason the digital pages of S.O.M. are fully stuck together with ecstatic residue of Marco pop-offs — the mop-topped ivory pounder is a wizard on the keys. His technical skills have only grown tighter over the years, and when he dug into his solos this night he cast a still awe upon the crowd as they basked in his expressionist technique. That being said, his current leap into the deep end of electro-indie-dance-pop doesn’t seem to as of yet found a way to fully acclimate to the other half of his persona. When he would dig into his darker, jazz-askew cuts, his Brubeck-like attack of the solos would breathe an essence of creepy fluidity — like you could sense David Lynch pointing a camera over your shoulder, onto his piano, and then spiraling back into the center of your eye. But when the dance-party songs break in, it suddenly feels like all the lights are turned on and any sense of mystery is lost. I feel his performance could be untouchable if he could figure out how to transcend that boundary between his two selves…”
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40) Band of Horses – Mirage Rock
B.O.H. got a big chunk of their balls back on this album that they seemed to have lost on Infinite Arms. While still lacking a stand-out tune like the one that made you fall for this band on either of their 1st two albums, Mirage Rock is a solid statement that you shouldn’t forget about these guys just yet.
39) Best Coast – The Only Place
Bethany Cosentino made it quite clear on this, her sophomore release, that she has no plans any time soon of changing up the formula for her So-Cal garage-rock band, and that’s fucking fantastic. We need a regular go-to for bashing odes to the sun, and hopefully Best Coast will remain that go-to for quite some time.
38) Bear in Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool
I had all but written off these guys in the past few years, but things went up a few notches on this latest Bear In Heaven release as they seemed to embrace every musical angle that make people hate bands from Brooklyn. Meshing rock and electronica together with no regrets and no excuses, this record’s great for late night city-gazing with headphones in the rain.
37) Marco Benevento – Tigerface
While the album starts out with a debatably off journey into lyrical pop territory, the rest of the record makes up for it with the brilliant instrumental melodies that Marco has made a name for himself with. It’s hard for him to shake the influences of both Vince Guaraldi and his old teacher Brad Mehldau, but why would he ever want to?
36) Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
Things got shockingly yet refreshingly simple on the latest work of genius composer Dave Longstreth, and this album seems like an essential step in his sometimes eerie and always ethereal pop journey. This is maybe the most intelligent band on the planet.
35) David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant
Maybe the most ideal collaboration I could ever dream of, (other than Eddie Van Halen and Les Claypool ever teaming up,) Love This Giant takes Byrne’s funk obscurity, combines it with Annie Clark’s gently sharp attack, and puts a giant brass section underneath – I hope there’s a sequel.
34) Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives
We’ve been hearing Gibbard deal with heartbreak for quite some time now, so it’s no surprise that it sounds perversely wonderful on this solo release. It’s lacking the drive of Death Cab’s drums, but the rest of the sonic exploration makes that well worth it.
33) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes
Pink has always taken pop music into worlds familiar but previously unseen, and Mature Themes is the perfection of an AM radio station on Venus. This is the most gently odd album of the year, just like his next album will be, and the one after that ad infintum.
32) How to Dress Well – Total Loss
Tom Krell brought in a touch more of the R&B flave to Total Loss, his sophomore album, but that doesn’t take anything away from this being the dreamiest music out there. The kind of record that makes you glad to have a roof above you for fear of total drift off.
31) Bob Dylan – Tempest
Anybody who didn’t get the big man’s new album obviously hasn’t been paying attention to anything he’s done in the past 30 years. Yeah, we know, his voice sounds like shit – that’s kind of the point. These songs are the definition of epic and bold, and nobody else on the planet could have crafted them. And since Dylan doesn’t allow Youtube videos, then I’ll put up Tim Heidecker’s one-up Titanic song that intentionally beats out Dylan’s by a minute and a half.
Hearing one of your favorite instrumentalists add vocals to their music for the first time is like seeing your aging mother buy her first pair of Uggs. In other words, sometimes the game doesn’t need to be flipped on its’ head that drastically. I’ve been a fan of Marco Benevento for nearly a decade now, and have always been enamored by his artistic attack of simplistic melodies. There’s even been times when his songs have held such a strong grasp of a melodic pop vibe that you can almost hear the unspoken lyrics float on top. I always thought this especially on “You Must Be a Lion” off of 2008′s Invisible Baby. In my head I always hear…”You must be a lion, because I can’t see, you being anything else.” But that’s the whole thing – the magic of the pop sensibility lied in my own personal and imagined connection with the music. If I had ever heard actual lyrics to the song, then it would have broken that spell.
Thus I’ve been quite torn by Marco’s choice to include vocals on the 1st two tracks of his recent release, Tigerface. First off, the vocals are provided by Rubblebucket‘s Kal Travers, who has quite an askew blandness to her tone. She always reminds me of the female version of the Hal 9000. But secondly, and most importantly, is how the inclusion of her vocals dispels the magic a great deal. It’s like when you read an amazing book, and it conjures this dreamy, hazy vision of the book’s reality in your head – one not defined by specifics and limitations. Then somebody makes a movie out of that book, and suddenly your own dream-scape connection to the story is squashed. That’s how I feel listening to “Limbs of a Pine” and “This is How it Goes” – like any chance I had of making a personal connection with the music has been automatically thrown out the window.
And listen, I love the album, but I can’t stop myself from starting it time and time again on Track 3. Marco learned a lot from his one-time teacher Brad Mehldau, and the biggest thing was the power of a simple melody. These vocal tracks seem like a step in the wrong direction – almost an admittance that the melodies aren’t strong enough to stand on their own. Of course, I applaud Marco on taking the risk, but I hope he never goes down the vocal path again. Try it out for yourself…
And here’s “You Must Be a Lion”
These two have become fucking monsters! It’s funny – I read a review of the San Francisco show from last week, which said the crowd was sleepy and not that into it, and the show was fairly tame. Then the same band comes up to the Doug Fir in Portland 3 days later, and fucking slays it. That’s the road, I suppose. I’ll tell you though, being in a comfortable spot with sick sound like the Doug Fir, having a few beers with your friends while Marco is crushing it 5 feet in front of you…that’s how you make a Northeast fella feel at home. Anyway, Reed Fuckin’ Mathis was positively evil on the bass the other night. There’s a snippet of my review and a link to the full one at StateOfMind below, and a majority of it is about him shaking the timbers of the place. I think if you get Marco on keys, Mathis on bass, Joe Russo on drums, and like….Jimmy Herring on guitar, you could create the most insane 4-piece imaginable on the planet right now. Make that shit happen. Here’s a clip of “Atari” too – from 3 years ago, with Andrew Barr on drums.
“…and the other stage’s wonder-child Reed Mathis on bass — who was sporting some old‚ little bass that he paid 150 bucks for earlier in the day‚ and was positively milking the groove from the prodigal womb with it all night long. The thing sounded amazing… The one sure thing is that the inebriating envelope of the Doug Fir drew more and more of the crowd toward Reed Mathis’ side of the stage as the night went on‚ called upon by the destructive ooze that was pulsing out of his cabinet. A magical take on Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” would be the climatic showing of his JPJ-ness (Paul Jones) throughout the night. You could put him‚ Marco‚ and a bowl of soup on drums‚ and it would still sound fucking phenomenal.”