Review of Soundcloud playlist
I just learned about Nick Marzock from a colleague connection – about a month too late to catch any of his East Coast shows. This was a real disappointment, because I love having the opportunity to experience local and emerging artists live; especially once I have been exposed to their music on my commute, or online for one of my reviews. You can get Nick’s 2012 full-length album Lead Me Home (11 tracks) on Google Play. And GhostTown is a stand-alone single, also from 2012. For this write-up, my review focused on the nine-track collection of songs (a self-titled release, perhaps?) available on Soundcloud.
From Nick’s basic website, it was hard to see how many releases he has made, or how long he has been playing in the area. The bio on his website describes more of his musical style and influences than his history – but it seems that he was NYC-based, and recently did a few appearances on Pittsburgh on his way out west to L.A. (Duquesne grad, apparently). Sadly, no other shows are on the calendar at this point in time. You can still catch his music video on the website or Facebook page (the guitar solo is the best part)!
I’ll start by saying that I’m a cynical listener, a tough customer. Especially for folks that I just hear about, I have high expectations and I’m not convinced I’ll like anything. At first listen to Nick’s album, I was accepting of the interesting song lyrics, the vocal talent, the production quality – but I refused to be blown away. It was really the second time around that I quit listening critically, and just allowed the music to bounce around my environment as I typed up this review.
I finally noticed how effortlessly Nick’s voice was thrown about in the texture of each song, and how each song was so completely different in terms of style, sound, and feeling (really rare for newer artists who are tempted to make everything the same so they have a distinctive “sound”)!
The opening track starts with jazzy piano, but semi-robotic drums. The vocals are soulful though, with great harmonies on the chorus before breaking back to a stripped-down verse. The lyrics take a dark turn on the kids’ game “Chute and Ladders” as Nick laments “She’s cheatin’, I’m leavin’… this love is shattered”. The second song (“Gotta Get Something Right”) is almost reggae, but somehow Timberlake-esque at times – hard to describe here, but it makes me think of that scandalous Jordan Knight song from back in the day. You know the one I mean…
“Numb” is finally your radio pop hit! Surf rock guitar blends with lovely piano… and next “Come A Little Closer” makes me think of 311 with that reggae beat again. The sexy chorus of “come a little closer” is very sassy and fun. Track #5 is full of easy-to-appreciate lyrics like “summer beat won’t you carry me/fill this bottle with something sweet” to help you glide through this song – a song that sounds like Jack Johnson met Blues Traveler and they had a party “on a moonlit beach”.
“You Should Know” is acoustic and countryish, with a bit of Dave Matthews/Zac Brown Band feeling: “she loves the feeling from what I can tell, she knows I need it, she knows me well.” The next track “Do You Think About Me” is not my favorite (too much like a slow dance), but it might be someone else’s favorite, because I bet this is where most of the advertised John Mayer influence finally peeks through.
The lyrics on Track #8 (called “Kingdom”) struck me as a little corny while trying to be too serious – “I am a story yet to be told, a bestselling novel”… But at least it is in a minor key, with a wide-open eerie feeling like a cowboy ballad, so it adds to the enjoyable variety of the whole list of songs. And the closing song “Collision” opens so beautifully and softly; with simple yet strong piano. It is a little introspective and sad, as Nick starts with “Jesus, where you gone to?” and later asks “did I disappoint you?” This is too heavy to be my favorite but it is otherwise fine; and it is a good vehicle for exhibiting Nick’s vocal strengths since the song itself is not distracting.
In my critical way, I found nothing on the album to be extremely original from a style perspective – I heard influences and vocal similarities from Justin Timberlake to Jack Johnson; with a sprinkling of 311, Blues Traveler, Rusted Root, and everything in between. Of course John Mayer seems to be a favorite of his, but as I mentioned a bit of Backstreet/Boy Band influence came through delightfully in “Gotta Get Something Right”! Even though the music is not novel, the lyrics are clever, and the execution is solid. As a 90s music fan I appreciated it all.
I usually like to pick a favorite song or two to highlight in a review – but in this case, I enjoyed almost each song as much as the last. This is a pleasant collection of songs for summer listening – so please check Nick out online and show him some support via Google Play. If you are in LA or have friends there, send him a note and put some pressure on him to come out and do some shows!
*Photo credit to Jimmy Fontaine, as shown on http://www.nickmarzock.com site.
Link to Nick’s site: http://www.nickmarzock.com
Link to Soundcloud songs reviewed:
Link to Lead Me Home on Google Play: