Steven Mark


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The title Distraction is a good example of what this well-defined release from New Yorker Steven Mark is all about. Methodical light pop similar in mood to Jeff Lynne's productions for the Beatles permeates titles like "Under the Covers" and "Another Day Insight." It's an eerie and haunting ambience that harks back to the Bee Gees-inspired groups Tin Tin and Marmalade, though a bit more contemporary à la Gavin Sutherland. If you found intriguing that "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" feel from Paul, Ringo, and George on John's music, you'll flip over this release. Mark cites Lennon as an influence on the website, and you can hear that among other perspectives on the creative and perplexing "Dumb It Down." On these dozen tunes ranging from under three minutes to just over six minutes in length, Mark has a pensive voice that wistfully gets his point across. "Messiah Complex is a change in style and setting, and brings some rather intriguing sounds to the table that differ dramatically from the earlier offerings on the disc. The riff on "Beer & Nyquil" is as entertaining as the lyrics -- didn't Frank Rowe and the Classic Ruins have a driving rocker that called this toxic combo a "Nyquil Stinger" back in the 1970s? There's not a bad track on this album, almost 50 minutes of music by someone who actually has something to say and knows how to say it. It's a wonderful expression of sound and poetry, perhaps a low-key doppelgänger to Tracy Bonham's extraordinary (and underappreciated) work from 2000, Down Here. Distraction is a very special record sure to reveal more as one explores its possibilities.

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