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Mark Newman

Must Be a Pony

(Danai Music, LLC; US: 2006; UK: Unavailable)

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.

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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album, and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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