Know what I love about the indies? I get to hear great music that isn't given a cursory listen by those supposedly in the know, and it's fun! Not only am I filling my shelves with killer albums by really fine musicians and songwriters, but in doing so I get to avoid the major label trap wherein they lead you around by the ears. No fun in that, eh?
This week's killer album is from Marwood and if you've never heard of them, it's certainly no big surprise. The musicians involved are probably well thought of in musician's circles but the names won't set off any sirens (for myself, the fact that Nicholas D'Amato was involved was a major plus, D'Amato having been a large part of Gabrielle Gewirtz's excellent 2005 release, Wide). That said, let me state uncategorically that, names or not, this is major league music presented by top notch pros.
That music, written and vocalized by one Benji Rogers, is pretty much straight ahead rock. Rogers has a good voice, but where he excels is in the writing. No gimmicks or pyrotechnics needed here. Take the rock ballad Nothing Good To Show For It, for instance. When you hear it, you'll swear you've heard it before, but a few bars into it it won't matter. A good song is a good song (and this is better than most) and before it's over, most of you will agree that it's good and maybe even great. There's nothing like a melody put to the right music. Simple, but true. It's done so well, in fact, that it is a major plus to have the acoustic outtake of that song at the end—a different and in many ways better version. One of my favorite songs of 2006, come to think of it.
This CD is full of good music and I struggled at first to figure out why, but I do believe that beyond the string of fine songs it is the straightforward performance that does the trick. The production is vaguely reminiscent of that done on Pure Prairie League's famed Bustin' Out LP and Denim's much overlooked self-titled album for Epic in the early 70s—minimalistic and yet totally fit to the music. The musicianship is first rate from basic rhythm to background vocals to exceptional keyboard and guitar work (as a band, these guys are as good as any I've heard—I do not doubt that they have fans who follow the band religiously).
I suppose I could blather on and on, but why waste the time? You really need to hear them to appreciate them and, as I say in all of my reviews when it applies, tracks from this CD are available for sampling at Cdbaby.com. Start with the second version of Nothing Good To Show For It and work backwards. I don't think you'll regret it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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