Adam Marsland
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Adam Marsland

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"Andy Whitman On Music"

I don't know Adam Marsland's previous music, so I'm assuming that Daylight Kissing Night: Adam Marsland's Greatest Hits, the title of his latest album, is intended ironically. Marsland was the leader of L.A.'s Cockeyed Ghost, who reportedly recorded five good albums in the '90s. I wouldn't know. Labels imploded, distribution fell through, radio airplay was non-existent, etc. It's an old and all too familiar story. He then embarked on an under-the-radar solo career (including an intriguing album of Wilson covers -- Dennis and Carl only; no Brian), quit the biz, and has now re-recorded a batch of his old songs, paired them with a couple new ones, and, in a bit of optimistic hubris, packaged them as Greatest Hits. In your dreams, pal.

But maybe, in a more just world, dreams come true. This is the best power pop album I've heard this year. And if the 20 songs here have been cherrypicked from a catalogue that may not be quite as strong overall (again, I wouldn't know), it's worth noting that there is absolutely no filler here, and that for 70 minutes the singalong choruses, the power chords, and the witty, literate songwriting don't let up. The multi-tracked harmonies are a constant, but otherwise Marsland mixes it up pretty well, pulling in influences from Matthew Sweet, Ben Folds, Cheap Trick, Fountains of Wayne, and Weezer. The guitars are loud, the harmonies are sweet, and Marsland's melodic gifts are on constant display. It's all good, and it's all been done a thousand times before. But what ultimately wins me over is the songwriting -- by turns caustic, desperate, and funny -- paired with those sunny melodies and loud guitars. "My Kickass Life" takes irony to another level, transforming sadsack sentiments into a pep talk, while "Burning Me Out (of the Record Store)" is the sordid tale of, you guessed it, labels imploding, distribution falling through, non-existent radio airplay ... and the sheer joy of making music because you love it. On WHIT, my own private radio station, it's #1 with a bullet.
- Paste Magazine blog

"Adam Marsland - Go West (CD review)"

The booklet for Go West has a 17-paragraph essay in which Adam Marsland explains why he's recorded a double-album set. Don't bother reading it. The album dedication is pretty good, though. This new release is dedicated to Matthew and Cesar Salgado, who went to a swap meet and bought a bunch of stuff (including instruments and computers) that burglars swiped from Marsland's house halfway through the album's recording. The Salgados returned everything to Marsland once they figured out the stuff was stolen, which saved the poor guy plenty of work.

There are also dedications to Marsland's dead brother (heart attack), his dead sister-in-law (murdered), and some other dead friends. So much crap happens to Marsland that there's no reason to rationalize a double album. He's got plenty to work through – especially since this is his first release since 2004's You Don't Know Me. Besides, Marsland is going easy on himself. Go West is technically a three-album set. That means two CDs containing 23 songs that echo a time when LPs had eight songs clocking in at around a half-hour.

Marsland starts Go West with the long intro of "Standing in Chicago," where funky electric piano gently glides into what will be one of several tributes to the airy California pop of Dennis Wilson. (Marsland has done regular live L.A. shows honoring the deceased Beach Boy's work.) The next songs touch on the power-pop of Marsland's work in the '90s with Cockeyed Ghost. The tunes are more glossy, though, and reliably rock at a mid-tempo beat worthy of The Raspberries. It's a little disconcerting when some techno touches show up in the disco of "I Don't Want To Dance With You," but then Marsland moves on to soft-rock worthy of Ambrosia or Daryl Hall & John Oates.

By then, you're only halfway through the first CD. Some manfully obscure references could start piling up, but there was only one '70s artist who truly combined dance, pop, funk, rock, and painfully incisive lyrics. Adam Marsland has made an Elton John album on the par of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Except with more of the Beach Boys, and the heterosexuality is a lot more believable. Also, the lovely final track isn't nearly as sappy as "Harmony" – but what is? -

"Adam Marsland - Go West (CD review)"

Listening or creating music can easily be labeled as a hobby, as it most commonly is. But for many musicians, its incorporation into one’s lifestyle makes it much more than that. When LA-based songwriter Adam Marsland compares creating an album to raising children, most parents would probably laugh at the comparison. An album has no real human emotions or dire consequences in case of neglect, right? While it would indeed be ridiculous to value art more than a human life, the similarities between the upbringing of both is amusingly striking. “You’re responsible for them,� Marsland also says of albums. “Some grow up to be mechanics and you don’t have to worry about them. Others are special, and you have to send them to medical school.� Any music fan will notice that a classic album has a certain amount of dedication involved to it, something that – alongside talent – is one of the only necessities in creating a masterpiece. But talent and true dedication is as rare as anything when they coexist, a fact that becomes heavily prevalent when occurring despite its rare showing. As a veteran songwriter and producer, Marsland is certainly aware of this. With that in mind, he must have also been aware of the implications involved in creating a double-album. In his analogy, it might be comparable to raising twins with stark personalities; the parent attempts to manage all occurrences and themes while remaining equal and attentive to the surplus of material at hand. It is arduous to be sure, but raising two gems has to be more rewarding than one, right?

The difficulties in creating a double-album is apparent for even a veteran like Marsland, who is accustomed to releasing consistent material since his emergence in the early ’90s with a few alt-rock groups, notably Cockeyed Ghost. He has been releasing solo albums since 2002’s 232 Days on the Road. But to create a double-album is a new venture altogether, even for a songwriter that has been around for nearly two decades. To fuse cohesion with quality songwriting throughout two discs and 23 songs is no small feat, and to gather the proper material for a songwriter accustomed to releasing average-length albums must mean that his time spent off the stage and out of the studio must have had an effect as well. Unfortunately, finding inspiration through demise is more common than discovering it through triumph. Such was the case with Marsland and his new album, Go West. Although the album often depicts moving on and personal triumph in a prominent light through some infectious pop songwriting, Marsland’s personal life was in a bit of chaos during the recording of the album. In addition to the untimely death of his brother, Marsland’s house was broken into and most of his recording supplies were stolen. A Telecaster, synthesizer, and computer were among the things stolen, and it took Marsland some time to recuperate. But as Go West shows, sometimes our deepest lows can lead us to our biggest triumphs.


The death of a sibling and a robbery could be enough in one year to bring most people down to their knees, but Marsland has kept chugging on. There is little to suggest that these two unfortunate events, in addition an illness that has effected his hearing for several years, is going to stop him now. His best years appear to be ahead of him, especially since he just released his most accomplished album, Go West this year. The album’s theme is immediately apparent from the dramatic croons of the opening “Standing in Chicago�, the city which he clarifies as “the midpoint between east and west�. He depicts characters at a crossroads, about to develop their life based on their own decisions about how to tackle their obstacles and control their strengths. It can get gritty and bleak, but it is always genuine and realistic. “It’s roughly about being a young adult gradually finding out life isn’t what you thought it was and neither are you,� he says. Self-discovery is a prominent theme throughout the album, but its involvement is more interesting than that. Marsland finds that the simultaneous desire for security and freedom leads to the heightened difficulty of moral choices. When that is realized and digested, the evolution into an adult begins and ends. This is what Go West tells us, both in its title and encompassing songs. For such a deep and universal message, it gets it across extraordinarily.

For any longtime fan of Marsland, Go West should be one of their favorite albums of the year. The reason for this is the eclectic talent displayed throughout the album, as Marsland’s career has seen him tackling everything from typical alt-rock to shimmering electro-pop. As a result, Go West almost plays like a greatest hits album due to its diversity and consistent quality, two necessities in creating a successful double-album. It is almost ironic since he released a greatest-hits collection last year, Daylight Kissing Night. This is why Go West is such a big accomplishment; these are all new tracks that could have easily fit on his greatest hits. Songs like “Learning the Ropes� concoct a style of piano-led pop that recalls that likes of Squeeze or Elton John, all while using Marsland’s soulful croon to bring the effort to R&B territory. With that in mind, listening to the preceding track, “I Don’t Wanna Dance With You�, finds Marsland in a completely separate zone. As the title may suggest, get ready for the synth-bass and the mock-worthy falsetto, all incorporated with the best of intentions to throw some genuine dance infectiousness within the midst of power-poppers and alt-rockers. Some alt-rock tracks, like “Burn Down the World� and “Stranger on the Town�, seem reminiscent of Marsland’s ’90s material with Cockeyed Ghost, but other efforts like “Learning the Ropes� and the fantastic “Standing in Chicago� are fresh and entirely innovative. What really makes Go West a great album is how it basically encompasses four different decades of music, even though Marsland has been around for barely over one. But between the infectious electro, fresh power-pop, ’70s piano ditties, and thumping alternative, there is plenty on Go West for everyone.


"Adam Marsland - You Don't Know Me (CD review)"

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Adam Marsland delivers a kickass album with You Don't Know Me. Be it the reflective, guitar-steered stomp of "My Kickass Life" or the acerbic, introspective "Other Than Me," Marsland recalls both a young Warren Zevon and a solo Ben Folds. The set opener is the best example of the latter, as "You Don't Know Me" combines wry lyrics ("You dropped your pants and told me to pucker/But I ain't your sucker"), a creative Folds-like piano line, and the timeless jazzy sway of Steely Dan. The guy even turns the hook from Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" into a revelatory, infectious keeper, before asserting his rock & roll chops on the accessible, accelerated "Have a Nice Day." Marsland even masters falsetto pop with "The Big Bear," proving there's little he can't do and do well. -

"Adam Marsland - 232 Days On The Road (CD review)"

When punk rock became a mainstream phenomenon and gave up any of the D.I.Y. pretense on which it was founded, a new school of "punk rockers" -- artists who were too good or too original to fit into the mainstream even if they didn't sound "punk" at all -- emerged during the '90s. Adam Marsland, along with his band Cockeyed Ghost, fit squarely into this movement. Armed with songs almost too literate and too catchy for mass consumption, Cockeyed Ghost weren't able to garner a mainstream audience, but they did cultivate a large and devoted cult following across the U.S. But without enough money for a proper tour, Marsland took matters into his own hands by hauling his 1994 Toyota Tercel across the country, armed with an acoustic guitar. That's punk rock in the classic, D.I.Y. sense, even if not in sound -- and the resulting live album, 232 Days on the Road, is a convincing portrait of both Marsland's brilliant songwriting and his presence as a live entertainer. The ten live tracks run through some selected highlights from the four Cockeyed Ghost albums but also pull out rarities -- "Party Apartment," "Portland," "Cut and Run," and a cover of They Might Be Giants' "James K. Polk" -- all doused with Marsland's one-part-Elvis Costello-and-one-part-Ben Folds-style sarcastic and witty stage banter. The lone drawback is a mastering error that left a strange buzz running through the entire show, though it's thankfully low enough in the mix to be ignored. As an added bonus to fans, three new studio cuts are tacked onto the end, and they're in the same vein of moody pop classicism as the band's 2001 masterpiece Ludlow 6:18. The end product is an utterly original and entertaining live album, and a convincing reason to go see Marsland on his next tour. -

"Adam Marsland - Daylight Kissing Night (CD review)"

If power-pop were marketable, Adam Marsland would be a millionaire, or at least a household name. Solo and with his lamentably defunct band Cockeyed Ghost, Marsland’s compositions erupt with heart, soul and ebullient, unforgettable hooks. Daylight Kissing Night collects twenty of his finest ditties, all delivered with milky falsetto acrobatics and clever couplets that will have Matthew Sweet reaching for a thesaurus. Longtime fans may quibble with rerecords and remixes of older tracks (“At the Bookstore�, “Married Yet�), but the new versions are cleaner, crisper and more confident than their predecessors. A few songs take cutting stabs at music industry (and rock press) nonsense, and only a couple sink into the complacent MOR motions that swallow so many promising singer-songwriters. Most impressive is the jaw-dropping “Ginna Ling�, an alternate-universe classic that runs the gamut of human emotion in under five minutes. Like Marsland’s best achievements, it is a glorious reminder of the seemingly bygone era when power-pop could actually be powerful. -

"If Adam Marsland Comes To Your Town"

If Adam Marsland Comes to Your Town
...don't play "Stump the Band" with him for money, whatever you do.

Adam Marsland, the lead singer for LA-based Cockeyed Ghost, played Mead Street Station, a cool little bar in Denver's Highlands neighborhood, Thursday evening. In addition to doing several cuts from the new Ludlow 6:18 CD and treating us to killer covers from The Beach Boys ("Surfer Girl"), BJ Thomas ("Hey Won't You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song"), and Elton John ("Better Off Dead" and "Take Me to the Pilot," both of which were just awesome), he also devoted an hour to taking requests from the crowd. He nailed 20 of 22 (he failed to deliver on the Staind request, and much to his credit he didn't know Ween's incomprehensibly stupid "Push Th' Little Daisies"), although the scoring was perhaps a bit generous on Tom Petty's "Free Falling."

The highlight of my musical year so far, though, was when he ripped off a disturbingly accurate rendition of The Divinyls' "I Touch Myself." I figured I had him stumped for sure with that one....

Yes, if Adam comes to your town, go see him. He puts on a very entertaining show. -

"Concert Review: Adam Marsland at Barking Spider, 10/4/09"

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Adam Marsland regaled a rainy-night crowd at the Barking Spider last night with a short set of tunes, mostly taken from his new 23-track double-CD Go West.

He and his band — bassist Teresa Cowles, drummer Jon Braun and keyboardist Charlie Zayleskie — played “My Pain,” the weather-appropriate “Grateful for the Rain” (which showed off Marsland’s knack for writing a pop tune you feel like you’ve known all your life) and “December 24,” co-written with Cowles. She also shared lead vocals on the song.

A request from an audience member yielded an older tune, “Ludlow 6:18” — originally by Marsland’s old band Cockeyed Ghost. And he put one of his primary influences on display with covers of the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” and set-closer “Good Vibrations.” The band’s comfortable four-part harmonies perfectly fit the songs.

With a short gap in their east-coast tour, Marsland and his band will be spending a couple of days in Cleveland, knocking out yet another album. He’s got a session booked at Bill Korecky’s Mars Recording to lay down a batch of tunes he’s dashed off in the past few days. - Cleveland Scene


with Cockeyed Ghost:
LUDLOW 6:18 (2001)

232 DAYS ON THE ROAD (2002)
DAYLIGHT KISSING NIGHT (2008) (#36 on amazon; #17 rock)
GO WEST (2009) (double album; #22 on amazon; #17 rock; 120 college radio adds to date)



Recently described in SPIN magazine as "a high-energy cross between Brian Wilson, Paul Stanley, and Elton John," Adam Marsland's restless muse has touched on rock, punk, baroque pop, soul and roots through the course of nine albums and 25 tours. When his label collapsed, he went totally underground, touring for 2 1/2 years and selling thousands of albums out of the back of a 1994 Toyota Tercel. Gradually, Marsland's honest, complex but catchy songs attracted a new audience, culminating when the 2008 compilation DAYLIGHT KISSING NIGHT: ADAM MARSLAND'S GREATEST HITS peaked at No. 17 on amazon's rock chart, a feat duplicated by his followup, the double album GO WEST, released in August 2009.

This writer of songs "almost too literate and catchy for mass consumption" (All Music Guide) founded the L.A. based high-octane pop-punk band Cockeyed Ghost, signing to Rykodisc-distributed indie Big Deal in 1996. Two albums followed as did appearances with Fastball, Third Eye Blind and Shonen Knife, on the cover of the L.A. Weekly and in an NBC-TV movie. A change in membership and a move toward a broader pop canvas resulted in 1999's THE SCAPEGOAT FACTORY, which The New York Press named album of the year. It also coincided with Big Deal going bankrupt, killing momentum for the band.

The band pressed on with its last and finest album, LUDLOW 6:18. At first ignored and poorly distributed, LUDLOW 6:18 CD eventually garnered a small, but devoted following, partly due to Adam's relentless solo touring (documented on his 2002 live album 232 DAYS ON THE ROAD). He also contributed keyboards and vocals for 2008 Tony Award winner Stew and The Negro Problem on tours with Counting Crows and John Mayer and on the highly acclaimed albums Joys and Concerns and The Naked Dutch Painter.

Returning to Los Angeles, Adam formed an alliance with soul chanteuse Evie Sands (a much-covered songwriter and the original voice of "Angel of the Morning," along with three Billboard-charting singles of her own). Along with Cockeyed Ghost alumni Kurt Medlin and Severo and keyboardist John Perry, they cut Adam's solo studio debut YOU DON'T KNOW ME, which was released in 2004 and was the first of Adam's records to garner substantial commercial radio play. Adam Marsland's Chaos Band -- with Dragster Barbie bassist Teresa Cowles replacing Severo, who left to join The Smithereens -- began to stun audiences with its versatility, playing as many as 60 songs (originals and covers ranging from the O'Jays to the Dead Kennedys) in one night. They then mounted an ambitious tribute to Beach Boys Carl and Dennis Wilson with archivist/Grammy nominee Alan Boyd. This drew the attention of Beach Boy Al Jardine, who appeared with the band at a few shows that year.

Grammy-award winning engineer Mark Linett (Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE) recorded the band's June 24, 2006 performance for the LONG PROMISED ROAD: SONGS OF DENNIS AND CARL WILSON - LIVE album, which was released over the internet in December and hit record stores March 13, 2007. The album, which showcased the band's harmonic and instrumental versatility and was released with few studio overdubs, was a steady seller throughout the year and even made the short list for a Grammy nomination.

During the last half of 2007 Adam became more active as a session player and sideman (which besides the aforementioned Negro Problem and Wondermints have included Davie Allen, Jeff Merchant, Kjehl Johansen [Urinals], Martin Luther Lennon, Kaz Murphy, Spooky Pie and, posthumously, Badfinger vocalist Pete Ham) including producing the debut CD by soul singer Norman Kelsey and arranging vocals for L.A. alt-country songwriter Anny Celsi's second album.

Most recently, he played guitar and keyboards side by side in studio and onstage with Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers Hal Blaine and Don Randi and legendary guitarist Jerry Cole in recording sessions. He was music director for the October 2008 Carl Wilson Foundation concert, arranging and leading the backing band for Beach Boys Al Jardine, David Marks, and Carnie and Wendy Wilson. His music began to be used more frequently in TV and film.

In 2008 Adam completed his return to full-time music-making with a 20 track album called "Daylight Kissing Night - Adam Marsland's Greatest Hits," released on March 18, 2008. The CD immediately sold out across the U.S., followed by a traditional media campaign and a 40-date national tour in the summer. Upon returning home from tour he immediately started intense recording sessions for his first new original album in five years, GO WEST. With two discs and a whopping 23 tracks, GO WEST was released on August 18, 2009, and at last count was in rotation on 120 college radio stations nationwide. During the tour for GO WEST, Adam and his touring band recorded yet another album, HELLO CLEVELAND, in one nine hour session during a day off. The more rock-oriented album is scheduled for a selective release in January 2010 as promotion for GO