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Steven Mark

Drawing from the pages of pop music's varied history, Steven Mark has released a record steeped in tradition and beauty. There are songs that haunt the soul, as well as songs that lift the heart and make it sing. Filled with brilliant lyrics and well produced instrumentation, Distraction is a complex ride through the mind of one of the great unsung geniuses of modern rock.

The songs immediately remind me of Jules Shear's salad days, provocative melodies carry the insidious lyrics on their course. The vocal doublings are reminiscent of the Byrds, and more than a bit of the instrumental sound is likely borrowed from the early Dylan/Robertson camps as well. "Pass Around The Bowl" has a distinctly Lindsey Buckingham vibe to it, and features some very cool washy guitar sounds. I'm a huge fan of the crisp acoustic guitar sounds on this record, as well as the washed out strings and big-but-not-overpoweringly-so drum sounds. As a listening experience, this album is wonderful, and easily stands out as one of the finest sounding records of the year. But it doesn't end with great sounding music…

"Under The Covers" is really a gem lyrically, and so I'd like to include a bit of them here for people who might have the same sardonic sense of humor that Mark and I share. "And how many hours of your life will they hound you/ with how many blades of a knife to surround you/ and how many dreams can you hide in your sweater/ with how many tears have you lied, you bed wetter?" That's just the icing on the cake. "Ubersize That" continues the onslaught of challenging lyrics and witty turnarounds. If you listen in, there are very few wasted lyrical opportunities on this record, and that is where the Bob Dylan attitude really comes across. This guy has something to say, which is becoming a rarer and rarer thing in pop music… and he says it beautifully over very enjoyable music. Even more rare.

I don't know where he came from, but I know that if we could get people to hear this record, he would be a hit. Fans of Elvis Costello, Crowded House, and the aforementioned Jules Shear should definitely check this record out, as well as anyone who just loves good, thick-sounding, brilliant pop music.

-L. Keane

Track Listing:

1. Get Off The Ride
2. Under The Covers
3. Pass Around The Bowl
4. Ubersize That
5. Another Day Insight
6. Dumb It Down
7. Toxins With Cream
8.This Dance Is Mine
9.Beer & Nyquil
10. Primary Colors
11. Where You Are
12. Messiah Complex

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