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CD Review: Marwood – One Mile Down the Road

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Is it just me, or is there is an amazing influx of current bands trying to duplicate the sounds of the seventies and eighties? Add to this list the new band Marwood, which seems to combine the lyrical and musical dourness of bands like The Counting Crows and early REM with some restrained, Peter Gabriel-like vocals from singer Benji Rogers.

If you’re into those clashes of styles, One Mile Down the Road is definitely for you. It’s a fairly measured mood piece that keeps to a subdued, almost lazy approach to songs about love, drinking, and love of drinking. It has moments of pop bliss but at times, one has to listen very close to hear the subtle changes Rogers and Ernie Fortunato’s guitars and the steady, back of the mix rhythm provided by bassist Nick D’Amato and Mike Talbot.

Rogers is a transplanted Englishman living and working in New York’s lower East Side, which also serves as the canvas for Roger’s vivid word pictures. On songs like “Nothing Good to Show for It,” “Just the Same” and the title track, Rogers creates portraits of that serve as memoirs of relationships gone awry and a sense of abandonment is an area of New York that is both beautiful in its spirit but occasionally cold in its outlook. Things get a little more upbeat in “Get Lucky.” It’s easy to believe that Rogers half sung and half slurred this song with a grand, shit-eating grin on his face as he tells the story of a young man who is probably promising more than he can deliver to women frequenting the neighborhood bar. It’s an inspired piece of comic relief among the contemplative narratives Rogers brings out in his character studies of his fellow denizens.

Marwood shows a great deal of promise on this release. The music meshes well with the lyrical Hooks Rogers has sprinkled throughout, and the songs themselves are just mysterious enough to keep the listener entertained and wondering what new eccentric gallery of rogues they will be treated to next. But what’s missing here is a sense of originality. Even though there are some awfully good songs here, much of the music seems based on styles that are more suited to reconfigurations of the bands who plied these idioms way back when. If Marwood wishes to succeed within a market of countless retro-oriented bands, Rogers and his group will have to discover ways to place their own bent on what’s preceded them.

Still, Marwood has produced an introspective album that hints at potential brilliance. Roger’s observational words are a delight and the band does an admirable job adding some magnificent color to Roger’s words. Once they can define their sound without the overly obvious influences, Marwood will be band to watch.

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