DownTown Mystic
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DownTown Mystic

Hillsdale, New Jersey, United States

Hillsdale, New Jersey, United States
Rock Americana

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Artist: Downtown Mystic
Title: Standing Still
Genre: Rock-Americana
Label: Sha-La-Music, Inc.
Website: http://www.shala.com/
CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/DownTownMystic1/from/muzikman

Music serves many purposes but mainly it is a good mood changer or suitable for creating a specific atmosphere. With all of that considered, when was the last time you threw a CD into the stereo and knew right from the start that the music you were hearing was going to make you smile and be a truckload of fun? Well I have just the right prescription from the rock ‘n’ roll doctor, the name is Downtown Mystic.

Standing Still is the third and likely the best recording to date for the band. The band consists mainly of Robert Allen (vocals, lead & rhythm guitar, acoustic, electric 12 string & piano), Steve Holley (drums & percussion) and Paul Page (bass). The Downtown Mystic sound is created with vintage guitars and analog recording that draw from a foundation of rock, blues and country to formulate a distinctive Rock-Americana sound that is played with lots of heart and energy.

As the musical door opens we go right out the “Backdoor”, which serves as an endless stream of old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll energy. The track puts you right in the middle of some shanty town bar with people dancing and laughter everywhere. The story may not have a happy ending but the music makes up for that situation with incredible bursts of rockin’ guitars supported by a solid layer of rhythm. Then when you hear “Modern Ways” kick up its heels with an intro that would fit the sound of a Chuck Berry hit, you know this band means business when they tell their stories. Every track serves up a heaping helping of the same and it raises the roof without sacrificing the overall production values, you hear every instrument precisely. The mix is not muddy at all; it’s crisp and clear with vocals that are gritty yet totally understandable. For this listener this is the kind of recording that has all the elements to satisfy my musical tastes with plenty of juice to keep me going long after it’s all over.

Standing Still is a great listen and anyone interested in hearing some good rock with influences from county and blues (which essentially is Americana) will be quite pleased with this CD. You get 13 tracks of unpretentious spirited music with personality and an endless flow of energy that is simply irresistible.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Backdoor, Sometimes Wrong, Rise And Fall
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
June 13, 2010
©MuzikReviews.com
- MuzikReviews.com


By Jessica Marlowe

Patrons of the Hillside Café have come to know that, at this intimate little-known coffee house, they will be provided with some of the finest musical entertainment offered in Essex county. The venue proudly features an eclectic mix of original live acoustic guitar music the third Saturday of every month. This past Saturday, June 21, Hillside hosted New York musician, singer-songwriter Ann Klein along with opening act, DownTown Mystic.

DownTown Mystic is a 2005 project conceived by musician Robert Allen, an executive at Sha-La Music who is joined by another singer-songwriter, Bruce Engler. The pair has recently released their second collection of songs, “Read the Signs”.

Allen had an idea for a studio work that would be an integration of a sound reminiscent of the music from the late 60s and early 70s with an edge that is very contemporary. Music that is, in his words, “Vintage, yet modern.”

Years earlier, the two had co-written the song, “One More Chance” and, each recorded an
original version of it independent of the other. Then, in 2005, they put their heads together for a re-make of the tune for their first album, “Rock ’n’ Roll 4 the Soul”.

The song captured the interest of Florida radio station program director, G. Michael Keating who added it immediately to the station’s playlist, thus, giving the duo coveted commercial triple A station airplay.

In December 2006, Allen and Engler decided to return to the studio together. This time for something a little different. “For this recording”, explained Engler, “we ‘raised the bar’ in
terms of the song-writing quality. This new album is a little more organic, more acoustic, and in
order to strip-down the production the songs needed to be strong.”

The songs are strong and, sadly, as an opening act, their set consisted of only six of them.
- www.localsource.com


What turned out as amusing side project for Sha-La Records president Robert Allen has turned into a serious venture. DownTown Mystic produced a demo that wound up with two different songs getting airplay on KROQ. Ensuing national airplay convinced Allen it was time turn the demo into a full-length album. The result, Rock N Roll 4 The Soul, was a strong debut featuring co-songwriting by Bruce Engler and the rhythm section of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Downtown Mystic returns now with their latest album, Read The Signs. featuring a new rhythm section and some serious songwriting.

Read The Signs opens with 1960's Folk/Rock of I Can't Let Go, a catchy quasi-love song that shows shades of Crosby, Stills & Nash in the harmonies. Go Back features some nice, lively guitar work but runs a bit long at five-and-half-minutes. DownTown Mystic is a decent listen; a bit on the bland side but sonically pretty. From the lyric perspective the song is a bit awkward, a trait that carries over a bit into One Step Closer. This is a song that has potential hit written over the music. The highlight of the album is Read The Signs, which sounds a bit like a Bob Seger tune. Read The Signs has a strong clear hook and is very catchy.

A close second is Think A Little Louder, which features one of those choruses that gets stuck in your head and won't leave of its own volition. DownTown Mystic brings the same feel good, infectious Rock sound to Test Of Time, a jubilant love song about marriage and the power of love. Tomorrow's Clown finds DownTown Mystic entering the California Country territory trod by The Eagles with much success, before breaking into infectious Roots Rock on A Way To Know. The last track on the disc, an untitled song that comes up as "Unknown" if your system displays title information moves back to the Poppy-Classic Rock sound that seems to the be the middle ground for DownTown Mystic. It's perhaps the most generic of the tracks on the album; pleasant but not overly impressive.

Read The Signs has its ups and downs, but when they're at their best, DownTown Mystic is an eminently listenable band. This is feel good music for folks who miss 1980's Guitar Rock and Adult Contemporary formats (ala radio's The River). Robert Allen has an exceedingly pleasant voice, and in general the songs are quite strong in the writing department. Take some time to Read The Signs.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5) - Wildy's World Blogspot


DownTown Mystic
"Read The Signs"

A subtle psychedelic cover with a purple hue is what houses this rocking bit of post-Flamin' Groovies/Byrds style of brash pop, the authenticity missing from 99%
of Tom Petty's releases. "Eyes Of The World" and "A Way To Know" contain no-nonsense pop by the quartet which features Robert Allen, Bruce Engler, bassist Paul Page and drummer extraordinaire Steve Holley. Listen to the wild guitar lines on "A Way To Know", the kind of core music that's been missing on the radio waves.
- Joe Vig


Album Title: Standing Still
Artist: DownTown Mystic
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
Review Summary -
DownTown Mystic’s Standing Still is an extremely invigorating blend of folk, country, blues, and rock that intertwines to create their own style. It will fall into the category of Americana simply because their music is so schizophrenic (and I mean that in a good way) that no one will know exactly what label to place them under.

Review –
DownTown Mystic is Robert Allen on vocals and lead guitar, acoustic, electric 12-string, and piano, Steve Holley on drums and percussion, Paul Page on bass, Bruce Engler harmony and slide guitar, and finally, Lance Doss on guitar, mandolin, lap steel, baritone guitar, and banjo. Their new CD, Standing Still, is one of the finest collections to come my way in quite some time. It is a compilation of thirteen original songs, all of which were written by Mr. Allen save for one, “Backdoor”, which was co-written by Mr. Allen and G.T. Sullivan.

You will hear the obvious inspirations. The veteran band POCO came to mind on several tracks, but especially on track 4, “Standing Still”. I would call it more of a tribute to the band. They certainly have a Jim Messina sound to them as well. Therefore, their claim of being influenced by bands such as the fore mentioned band POCO, along with bands such as The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, is an accurate statement.

On “Standing Still” Mr. Allen’s vocals are outstanding as it is on most tracks. He has a wide range and is able to bring life to his songs. The harmonies are perfect as well. You can feel the emotion they are emitting from their tunes. This is the true test of a good song; when a tune penetrates into your soul, generating chills, then you know you have just heard something great.

Likely my favorite song on the album is “Too Many Times”. It is another song that will remind you of POCO and Buffalo Springfield, sonically pleasing and sporting phenomenal lyrics. Mr. Allen’s lead guitar is impeccable as is the band’s rhythm section. Again, the harmonies are there to bring the song together and compliment Mr. Allen’s expertly performed lead vocals.

The very next track is “Rise and Fall” bringing its familiarity with it but with a flair all its own. Allen’s extremely organic vocal tone fits his music to a tee making it all so very listenable. I believe he could sing whatever came his way, whether it is blues, country, folk, or pop. In fact, he accomplishes just that on nearly every track on this exceptionally superb CD.

Track 10 is “History”, a very cool little tune paying tribute to Rock ‘N Roll. If I’m not mistaking, I’m nearly positive I hear a little Keith Richards along with a smidgen of Chuck Berry to top it all off. It is definitely a floor stomper.

Closing the record, “Shade of White Bluegrass” is certainly rock ‘n roll, but played with a hint of zydeco. The electric mandolin adds a flavor to the song that will cause the listener to think of The Grateful Dead and the late-great Jerry Garcia. It was truly a fastidious way to wrap the whole thing up, leaving me to do just one thing; listen to the entire CD again.

So much of today’s music sounds so canned with nothing to set it apart from anything else. This is not the case with Robert Allen and DownTown Mystic, as every song is expertly written, performed, and produced, enticing the listener into anxiousness for the next track.

I just returned from a badly needed sabbatical, in a location where there was no music, no cell phones, and no computers. It was incredibly uplifting to open the inconspicuous white envelope containing this album, placing it in my player and then hear these astonishingly first-rate sounds escape from my speakers. It’s revitalizing to know there is still talent out there that is not afraid to take something a little familiar and mold it into their own creation. That is precisely what Mr. Allen has done with this brilliantly conceived piece of musical art. I truly loved it!

Review by Rod Ames/July 9, 2010
- ReviewYou


"One More Chance" is a hit! They don't make 'em like this anymore...and they should, all day. It has all the ingredients: lyrics, arrangement, structure, guitar, vocal, length...and not necessarily in that order!

It is a wonderful hit track that feels like a refreshing "throw back" to the day when bands and producers recorded songs for longevity. This is "Doobie Brothers", or take your pick, solid 70s-styled quality adult rock. It is unlike anything out there now, for a long while.
G. Michael Keating/PD/WBCG
- G. Michael Keating


Fresh off their 2007 effort, “Read The Signs”, DownTown Mystic have just cut their latest album, “Standing Still”. “Standing Still” represents an evolutionary step forward for the act, while still maintaining cohesion amongst the disc’s thirteen cuts. “Backdoor” starts out with a bit of blues-tinged rock that allows Robert’s vocals to approach the timbre and quality of a Warren Zevon or Jimmy Buffett. Despite having a sound that would easily work on classic rock stations, there is a vibrancy and technical brilliance to the track that will appease even those musicophiles.
“Believe” has a much slower lead-in than the up-front and in your face “Backdoor”, but the track keeps a bubbling exuberance barely kept in check. The track seems to rest on a different set of influences than the disc’s opening, with hints of Tom Petty or John Fogerty present.”Standing Still”, the disc’s titular track, tips the scales at 4:38. Where there seems to be a blending of the styles broached during both “Backdoor” and “Believe”, the most interesting aspect of the track has to be the challenging time signature present. One needs to listen to the quiet spaces on the track to fully understand what DownTown Mystic is attempting to do. Beyond that, the stair-step vocals that lead to the sizzling, affecting guitar solo turn “Standing Still” into the disc’s best track.

“Too Many Times” speeds things back up, while shifting the set of DownTown Mystic’s influences to reflect their love of sixties and seventies rock, be it CCR or the Moody Blues. There is a certain timelessness present on each of the album tracks on “Standing Still”, and nowhere is this better seen during “Shade of White Bluegrass”. The disc’s ultimate track, “Shade of White Bluegrass” has a sound that one may expect – a countrified, bluegrassy version of the rock that has been presented fans through the entirety of “Standing Still”. Cutting things short at the two and a half minute mark, DownTown Mystic put an emphatic exclamation point on what is a cogent and always strong album. There is a fullness present to the album that imbues the same warmth that seeing the act in a packed coffee house or bar would; each of the members here brings something that is then converted into something bigger and better.

Top Tracks: Standing Still, Shade of White Bluegrass

Rating: 8.3/10

DownTown Mystic – Standing Still / 2010 Sha-La Music, Inc. / 13 Tracks /
- NeuFutur Magazine


A Bar band at heart, DownTown Mystic are a nice breath of fresh air, although you will not find a single solo riff or a single melody of the entire Standing Still that sounds vaguely familiar. It is not a provocation of mine, but the certainty that sometimes you just have very little to base an album of good songs, with few pretensions to originality perhaps but with experience and a taste not at all negligible. With Robert Allen and DownTown Mystic we are in the field of best crafted rock'n'roll, that each time you feel you shoot a smile and the certainty that the party will go on and on, even if nobody remembers anything. Here pulls air of New Jersey, the birthplace of the band (and already you should prick up your ears), the proof is that for the previous work (in particular the debut "rock'n ' roll 4 the soul" of 2006) even involved Garry Tallent and Max Weinberg of the E-Street Band. Today, Allen gave more stability to the group, initially as a solo project and gradually to collaborating with Bruce Engler, Lance Doss and especially drummer Steve Holley (already at the Court of Paul McCartney & Wings).

The concept of Standing Still is really very simple: a handful of arrangements from the rock'n'roll of Chuck Berry (the attack of Modern Ways is a cool plagiarism, but it works) passing through Creedence, the Stones and the honky tonk bars of Texas (“Backdoor”, “Shade of White”), some sparkling pop song that recalls the late 70s English wave (by Nick Lowe to Dave Edmunds, the school is one you can recognize in “Too Many Times and “History” for example) and finally the usual ballads with an eye to American country (the mandolin and the roots sound of “Believe” and “Shade of White Bluegrass”). You will understand that the new and the future does not pass here, but if you enjoy vintage guitars played with taste, quality songwriting and an atmosphere that captures the best live performance execution of the group, then DownTown Mystic will provide three-quarters of an hour of lovely memories, capable of that job that only someone who comes from the rank and file is able to offer.

Robert Allen in this sense seems to be clear: with the rhythm section consisting of Holley and Paul Page has guaranteed that sparkling beat for the content of DownTown Mystic, while interventions of Lance Doss (also lap steel and banjo) offer traditional American flavors that could also draw the attention of a different audience. If I were however, to define the imagination of Standing Still, I would return again to disturbing that season of the so-called PubRock, which by combining melody and roots, Buddy Holly, the Beatles and Rolling Stones managed to reach agreement over generations. Downtown Mystic might also act as a surrogate, but they have fun and entertain with solid songs.
7 out of 10
Davide Albini/RootsHigway/June 7, 2010 - RootsHighway, Italy


We here at NeuFutur had a chance to familiarize ourselves with DownTown Mystic, a New Jersey act that has just released a new album, “Standing Still”. This 2010 effort, on band member Robert Allen’s own Sha-La Music, contains 13 tracks of pure rock music. “Standing Still” is a step forward from a band that has already shown that they can deliver on disc, as evidenced by their 2007 work “Read The Signs”. Where the tracks on “Standing Still” stand on their own, listeners that are familiar with the days of album-oriented rock will find something delightful when they take the album as a distinct entity. Sure, some tracks (the titular effort and “Backdoor”) may have an easier time making it onto radio, but tracks like “Shade of White Bluegrass” truly extend and expand upon the style of what is a very eclectic band.
Despite keeping much of the same lineup between “Read The Signs” and “Standing Still”, DownTown Mystic brings a considerably different sound to bear between the two. While “Read The Signs” seems to be more focused and rock-based, I feel that “Standing Still” flies against its title and showcases a band that really wants to go out there and try their hand at anything that tickles their fancy. Where such experimental albums would be ruinous for lesser-talented collections of musicians, the veteran base of DownTown Mystic ensures that they can step up to the plate whenever they need.

The production of both albums is interesting in that it does not red-line each constituent element of the band. A great number of acts, both rock and metal, seem to equate ear-ripping amounts of noise with talent, and as such, turn up everything to 10. DownTown Mystic allows listeners to decide on their own how good each track is, by putting forth a clear representation of bass, drums, guitars, vocals, and whatever other instruments make it into the mix. By adhering to an older style of production, DownTown Mystic are able to create an album that will be much more timeless than any of the major label efforts released at the same time. Listeners might prefer different styles of music than that of DownTown Mystic, but I feel that anyone that gives “Read The Signs” or “Standing Still” a serious listen will be able to appreciate the band’s work.

For those individuals that would like to check out what DownTown Mystic is about, give their Myspace a spin at www.myspace.com/downtownmystic With over 21,000 fans currently friends of the act, DownTown Mystic is poised to have tremendous turnouts at any venue that they may step into. Where the act had previously preferred to make perfect pieces of platter, the band’s fans should push for this tour. Those that want to pick up “Read The Signs” and “Standing Still” can purchase copies of those album at DownTown Mystic’s CDBaby – www.cdbaby.com/cd/DownTownMystic1 . For those that want to see the label side of things, Sha-La Music, Inc. can be located at www.shala.com .

Posted by James on June 9th, 2010 - NeuFutur Magazine


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Rock'n'Roll spoken here...

The sound of DownTown Mystic is “vintage yet modern”. The music is rooted in all the great traditions of American Rock‘n’Roll, blending story telling songs with vintage guitars and analog recording into a unique style that owes nods to Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Poco, The Beatles and Rolling Stones.

DownTown Mystic is the alter ego of American Rocker, Robert Allen. When asked about how he got the name DownTown Mystic, Robert says, “I wanted a name that could work for a group, as well as represent me personally. One fateful day I was driving up to Boston and saw a little sign that said ‘NEXT STOP DOWNTOWN MYSTIC’. I immediately knew that was the name I was looking for…DownTown represents my rock’n’roll nature and Mystic represents my imagination…it’s perfect”!

DownTown Mystic’s cd, “Standing Still”, is the 1st release under a new European Licensing Agreement with AGR Television Records in Germany. On "Standing Still", Robert is joined by a stellar cast of musicians, including drummer extraordinaire Steve Holley (Paul McCartney/Wings/Elton John/Ian Hunter) & urban legend Paul Page (Dion/Ian Hunter) on bass, as well as one of the great rhythm sections in the history of American Rock'n'Roll--Garry Tallent & Max Weinberg of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

On playing Roots/Rock‘n’Roll, Robert says, “there’s a good deal of Country in the roots of Rock‘n’Roll. Going back to Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, the Everly Bros. and even the Skiffle craze in Britain that had a big influence on The Beatles, Country was in the ‘feel’ that was a big part of that music”.

And it’s a big part of what makes “Standing Still” DownTown Mystic’s most fully realized album, landing on both the Euro/Americana Top 25 Chart in Europe and the Americana Chart in the US, thanks to a good deal of Americana Radio airplay. And it seems like Radio has played a big part in the career of DownTown Mystic.

It started with veteran tastemaker, Jed The Fish, playing a DownTown Mystic track as his “Catch of The Day” on “World Famous” KROQ in LA, one of the most influential stations in the US. This would be followed by the “Mayor of The Sunset Strip”, legendary KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, playing another track and leading to national airplay.

From there, DownTown Mystic was off and running. Besides gaining recognition from Radio programmers, DownTown Mystic has also had music placed on American TV, including "The Voice" NBC, MTV and the History, Lifetime & WE Channels.

“With Robert Allen and DownTown Mystic we are in the field of best crafted rock'n'roll”
Davide Albini/Roots Highway

“brilliantly conceived piece of musical art”
Rod Ames/ReviewYou.com

“unpretentious spirited music with personality and an endless flow of energy that is simply irresistible”
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck/MuzikReviews.com

"one of the best albums of the year"
John Shelton Ivany/jsiTop21.com