Mark Growden

Downstairs Karaoke

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    4
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AllMusic Review by

If it's all about the packaging, Berkeley based singer songwriter and experimentalist Growden would win an award with this finely rendered piece of cardboard art. Sadly, it's about the music and the varied styles Growden takes on here-from twisted carnival reels to sensitive songwriter ("Dirt Road")-- are just too much to take in during the one long sitting required to get through the disc. Some of Growden's clinks and clanks are from the homemade school of instruments-like kindred spirits Ralph Carney and Doo Rag. But there's also bent, Kurt Weill-style cabaret ("Gimme") and improvisational jazz grooves. No surprise that Growden has corralled the Bay Area's best in experimental instrumentation to join him: guitarist Myles Boisen of Club Foot Orchestra and cornet player Jon Birdsong (Beck, Victoria Williams) among others are on board for this nutty, filmic-sounding carousel ride of a recording.

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