Mark Newman: Must Be a Pony
PopMatters Interviews Editor
Imagination exercise: picture John Mellencamp with a wee bit more country and a lot less distinctiveness. That fuzzy haze that emerges is probably Mark Newman. A majority of his self-released debut is generic rockers with pseudo-slide guitar, shooting for more Marc Cohn territory than Garth Brooks. His lyrics are interesting in that generic way that any pop-rock artist is, and sometimes very awkward: (“I admit that I’m no rocket scientist / But now she wants me to see her psychiatrist”, he croons on “So So Cynical”). Moments of levity certainly help the affairs at hand (as on the barn-burning closer “Going Underground” and fun “Mambo Dancing”), but rarely does he rise above his own one-note meanderings. The one most fantastic moment, however, is actually a Bee Gees cover. The disco kings’ very first folk-rock hit, “New York Mining Disaster, 1941”—which itself echoed Simon & Garfunkel—gets a contemplative treatment that roots the song in a far more emotional ground than the original. Mark Newman is brilliant when he’s honest, awesome when he’s having a full-throttle good time, but forgettable in any other setting.
Evan Sawdey began contributing to PopMatters in late 2005 after contributing for years to his college newspaper The Knox Student
. Evan became the Associate Interviews Editor for PopMatters in the summer of 2008, and then the full Interviews Editor a year after that. Since joining, Evan's work has been written for and been quoted/featured in a wide array of publications including SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and multiple national newspapers. Evan has been a guest on WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle
album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com
), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C.
(Big Break Records) and the 2012 re-releases of Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder's standalone 1985 pop effort
(Virgin/Gold Legion), the JoBoxers' 1983 debut album Like Gangbusters
, 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry
, and Plastic Bertrand's 1978 album AN 1
(all Hot Shot Records). He is a current member of The Recording Academy and resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye
should you be so inclined.