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.
// Notes from the Road
"Philip Glass, the artistic director of the Tibet House benefits, celebrated his 80th birthday at this year's annual benefit with performances from Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens and more.READ the article