Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

TUNES RECOVERY PROJECT: Mark Mallman – White Leather Days

He jumps on his keyboard, we jump down his throat…


Michaelangelo Matos: I’ve been avoiding this guy’s music for a decade, largely because every description of it I’ve read made me fear it would sound exactly like this: ’70s AM-radio pop-rock with textbook-clever lyrics, stacked-harmony choruses, pianos for melancholic contrast subsumed (lest we give up hope!) by buzzy guitar, produced with clear and obvious passion and sounding freeze-dried to anyone who doesn’t share it in precisely the same dosages.

Alex Ostroff: Splits the difference between classic rock and power pop, and doesn’t acquit itself well in either pose. The nostalgic country-rock isn’t as epic as it wants to be, while the power pop arrangement doesn’t go down as smooth as it should. Jason Collett does whiskey-soaked bar band far better, and Brendan Benson can pull off the power pop in his sleep. As it is, “White Leather Days” has neither the bombast to overwhelm my emotional barriers nor the subtlety to sneak past them.

Rodney J. Greene: For all his new wave invocations and seeming indie ambitions (oxymoron, I know), the clean sounds and strangled singing come out sounding closer to The Fray, who boast better songwriting than this bunk.

Ian Mathers: I guess it’s nice that the Killers have people imitating stuff past their first album now, but Brandon Flowers is more ingratiating than this guy (and — I’m surprised too — writes better lyrics).

Matt Cibula: If this guy had the voice of Meat Loaf, or even Wayne Coyne, we’d be paying a lot more attention. But he doesn’t, and his Dean Friedman shtick is not quite doing it for me. (Anyone else remember Dean Friedman, except maybe Chuck?)

Chuck Eddy: As a passing-evocative late ’00s indie-rock approximation of late ’70s urban singer-songster pop-rock, surprisingly not too shabby — vocally, melodically, lyrically. But it’s the age-old indie story: Dude, in the late ’70s, even B-listers like Mink Deville or Jim Carrol or Tonio K or whoever were savvy enough to find a good band. Complete with rhythm section. Follow their lead, figure out a way to add some meat to your songs’ bones, come back, and I’ll listen.

Martin Kavka: Twenty years ago, a friend from Minneapolis introduced me to the music of Trip Shakespeare, and promised me that they would be the next great rock act. They weren’t, and neither will Mark Mallman, for in his attempt to write timeless pop-rock, he comes off as a mere epigone. Then again, maybe if I drank the Minneapolis water, I’d be convinced that this was amazingness incarnate.

6 Responses to “TUNES RECOVERY PROJECT: Mark Mallman – White Leather Days”

  1. Heh, my old band once opened for this guy at a coffee shop in Pittsburgh. On stage, he’s got this passionate showman shtick that’s fairly entertaining to watch (more than once, he kicked his leg up so that it straddled the piano), but on record, it feels like a pretty thin gimmick.

  2. Huh, so this was nominated for the recovery week yet no one likes it enough to give it above 6, nor really cares about the dude judging from the blurbs. Mystery.

    (It does completely suck, though I would be expected to say that.)

  3. Yeah, I was going to say, I expected at least one [9] or [10].

  4. “the Minneapolis water” = precisely the reason I’ve been avoiding him for a decade

  5. I assume whoever nominated it for recovery week didn’t wind up writing a blurb themselves? (A shame — I was hoping somebody might jump in and defend the song, since I thought it wasn’t as awful as most people here think. Then again, I’d never heard of the guy before.)

  6. Chuck: Then again, I’d never heard of the guy before.

    He has an excellent song called “You’re Never Alone in New York,” with Craig Finn. When I saw he was nominated here, but with a different track, I got a little excited. Alas, it wasn’t to be.