Mark B.

Things Markb

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Emo is generally the domain of bands, not solo artists -- bands like blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, the Promise Ring and Texas Is the Reason. Bands like Jets to Brazil, the Get Up Kids and Sunny Day Real Estate. But Mark Bernal, aka Mark B, is an exception to that rule; he is a solo artist with an emo orientation. Things Markb, the Californian's debut EP, demonstrates that even though Mark is a solo artist instead of a bandmember, he definitely has an emo type of voice -- a bratty vocal style that is punk-pop in a post-'80s way. And like a true emo vocalist, he favors confessional, introspective lyrics that describe, in great detail, the emotional ups and downs of youth. Another thing that separates Things Markb from a lot of other emo recordings is Mark's singer/songwriter aesthetic. Emo, in many cases, is totally amplified, but Mark doesn't hesitate to use some acoustic guitar when he feels it is appropriate. In fact, parts of this 16-minute disc give the impression that he is no stranger to gigs in small, intimate coffee houses; Mark isn't afraid to downsize, which is quite a contrast to all the emo artists who want their recordings to sound as amplified as possible. And there are only two musicians on this album; Mark is heard on lead vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards, while fellow Californian Zack Ohren plays mostly drums. Things Markb isn't mind-blowing, and it could have been more consistent. But the EP's best tracks -- which include "Kiss and Tell" and "Brentwood and Berkeley" -- indicate that while Mark still has some growing and developing to do, he is worth keeping an eye on.

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