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Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


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"Assorted reviews, live show reviews"

Review: Fresh Frosting
Hard Rock haven dot net

Veteran Chicago-based guitarist Mark Grzelak has recently unleashed a solo project by the name of Frosting, and of course has entitled the album Fresh Frosting.

Fresh Frosting is a refreshing mixture of rock, pop, and blues with generous acoustic passages, strong melodies and solid harmonies. Grzelak has a pleasant and homey voice – one can easily picture him sitting in his front porch with an acoustic in his lap singing for no other reason than to sing. Well written songs with catchy melodies and amusing lyrics make this album a pleasant surprise for any old-school rock fans, or anyone who enjoys the “singer-storyteller” genre. The remaining members of Frosting are fine musicians as well. Drummer Tim Lydon and bassist Manny Vasquez seem comfortable no matter what the style, and are a fine rhythm section. Mary Jane Lee plays some subtle keyboards throughout the album, never dominating but always an integral part of the music. Grzelak doesn’t hog the mic – he shares vocal duties with Laura Lopardo. Lopardo is a fine backing vocalist, a solid duet partner and really shines when she sings lead.

“Comfortable Enough” opens the album, and basically expresses the tone and attitude of the whole album – Grzelak is comfortable enough to be himself and to make the kind of music he wants to make without fear. The band mixes elements of rock, blues, folk, pop and a bit of electronica to come up with a unique sound. “Katrina Wells” and “King Dawdle” are fine old school rockers, both well written story songs that also introduce Grzelak’s fellow vocalist Laura Lopardo. “Pity Girl” is an almost pop tune with a catchy back beat and great bass line. Laura Lopardo gets to sing a haunting and beautiful lead on a cover version of Lindsey Buckingham’s “Go Insane”, and her pleasant and lush voice makes this mostly acoustic track one of the musical highlights of the CD. The up tempo rocker “Breathe Free” features some amazing bass and drum work from Vasquez and Lydon along with fine vocals by both Grzelak and Lopardo.

The humorous lyrics of the short and punchy “Top Of The World” could have only been written by a true veteran of the music scene, and this track showcases Grzelak’s guitar chops. “Last Of The Good Men” is a biting and bittersweet mostly acoustic ballad with thought provoking lyrics and top-notch performances by everyone in the band – perhaps the best track overall. If you listen to the lyrics of this tribute to Grzelak’s father-in-law carefully they may bring a tear to even the most jaded eye. “So Bad” is much more commercial sounding than the rest of the album and features fine duet vocals in the chorus. “Subculture Divided” is a slow rock reflection on modern city life, while “Ghost Town” is a lush mid-tempo track with super-smooth vocals and fine coordination between keys, bass and drums. The album wraps with the up tempo philosophy song “Ship Of Opportunity.”

Fresh Frosting is well engineered, and has a simple and warm tone. Sound quality is good across the board, with all instruments and vocals clear and pleasant. Grzelak’s experience as a performer, songwriter and producer shows clearly, and despite a modern mix of styles Frosting’s music is decidedly “homey” and laid-back.

Light and unique, Frosting’s 70s and 80s influenced sound should appeal to fans of blues-rock and old school rock. Fresh Frosting is an album both simple and complex, old fashioned and modern. Mark Grzelak and his band are a fine addition to the singer-storyteller ranks, so if you are looking for something new then have your Frosting whipped up Chicago-style. Frosting’s unique mix of styles makes them stand out in the crowd.

If you’d like a sample, Frosting has generously made two tracks available as of this writing:

“King Dawdle” at
“Katrina Wells” at

Genre: Progressive Rock

Mark Grzelak (guitars, vocals)
Tim Lydon (drums)
Manny Vasquez (bass)
Laura Lopardo (vocals)
Mary Jane Lee (keyboards)

Track Listing:
1. Comfortable Enough
2. Katrina Wells
3. King Dawdle
4. Pity Girl
5. Go Insane
6. Breathe Free
7. Top Of The World
8. Last Of The Good Men
9. So Bad
10. Subculture Divided
11. Ghost Town (Bonus Track)
12. Ship Of Opportunity (Bonus Track)

Label: Kentland Records


Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10

Frosting Review "Fresh Frosting"

Chicago native son Mark Grzelak, of Simple Simon fame, is back with the debut record from his new band, Frosting. Out since August of last year, the release marks a return to form for Grzelak, who has spent the time since Simple Simon in a slew of bands including Red Pop Fury, Javelinas, and Petty Cash. Here Mark gets to show off his guitar skills and pull the strings as writer/frontman.

I was turned on to Fresh Frosting by my friend, Dave. A former Chicagoan himself, he thought I might enjoy hearing this new release due to my interest in lyricism and old school rock and roll. I think he was right to suggest this to me, because there is a lot to enjoy on this album.

If you ask me, which you didn’t but you’re reading this so let’s assume you were wondering, I think if Freedy Johnston were to go electric, it would sound a lot like Frosting. Mark has a lot of similar tones in his writing, and their voices remind me of one another, though they’re nothing alike, really. There is a lot of reflecting on Fresh Frosting, though a lot of it is tossed aside a line or two later (example from “King Dawdle”):

When am I gonna learn my lesson

In assertiveness they say, “alas”

Well that seems like too much work to me

I gotta go, I got a date with a chair and a glass

Besides being lyrically strong, Fresh Frosting is also a fun record to just drive around with. There are some great riffs and Mark plays a couple really smokin’ solos throughout the record. And if that isn’t enough for you, Laura Lopardo sings lead vocals on the Lindsey Buckingham-penned “Go Insane,” as well as backup vocals on the rest of the record. Her deep, throaty voice acts as a perfect counter to Mark’s and gives many of the songs added texture and perspective.

If you’re a fan of rock music, as I am, it would probably do you well to pick up this record. You can check out a couple of the songs for free over on Frosting’s website. If you dig what you hear, check out the show tomorrow night, April 19th, at Martyr’s! 9:00 on the dot. Don’t be late!

Frosting – Fresh Frosting review
Mar 29 2011
Filed In: Reviews

Play “”Katrina Wells
Play “”King Dawdle
Play “”Go Insane
Play “”Fresh Frosting album by Frosting
Fresh Frosting is the latest album from Mark Grzelak’s Frosting. Singer/songwriter Grzelak was a founding member of Chicago alt-rock act Simple Simon, the Americana fueled Javelina’s, and lead guitarist with, acclaimed singer/songwriter, Michael McDermott and this record shows the maturity that you only get with such an experienced musician. Fresh Frosting superbly balances a modern Pop sound of bands like Fun Lovin’ Criminals with sensibilities of classic Rock act’s such as Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac and even Dire Straits.

Make sure you have your finger next to the ‘Repeat’ button for the laid-back grooves and melodic hooks of Pity Girl and Katrina Wells. You’ll be singing along to these in no time. Along with Breathe Free and King Dawdle displaying Grzelak’s talent for writing great Pop songs, there are more relaxed folk moments such as the more melancholic though no less powerful and gorgeous rendition of, one of my favourite guitarists; Lindsay Buckingham’s Go Insane.

Although the album moves between upbeat Pop tunes and provocative acoustic tracks, what I really like about this album is that it never loses it’s identity. You can play this album at Dawn, you can play it at Dusk, it’s surely the sun-drenched soundtrack to your Summer.



Fresh Frosting
Kentland Records
Released: 2010

To intrigue or not to intrigue? Is that not the question? You get a CD through the post. Nothing unusual there. All it has with it is a postcard with “Please review” on it. You’d just throw it on the pile wouldn’t you? That’s what I did anyway and duly deprived myself of some really rather fine rock music from Chicago band Frosting. Next time I will be more careful…

The key thing about this album is the maturity demonstrated both in the song writing and in the performances. The opening track “Comfortable Enough”, for example, is a devilishly cool run through a mid life crisis balanced precariously atop plastic drums and bourbon fuelled guitars and not content with setting about the displacement of Jackson Browne, Frosting then venture into the quirky powerpop territory of Khalid Hanifi with the bouncy “Katrina Wells” and the harmonious “Pity Girl”. Lest I forget (only I wasn’t going to), Laura Lopardo escapes from doing harmony vocals to shine in the elegant and reflective “Go insane”.

It was particularly interesting to note how well this album gels. A lot of the music I hear these days barely rises above demo standard but here the polish has been well and truly applied and, in many ways, “Fresh Frosting” is like a classic west coast rock album only with the kind of lyrical intelligence and style that you would expect of someone like Ray Davies (actually, he is name checked in the lyrics so I must be right about that!).

All in all, “Fresh Frosting” is not quite perfect but it’s not far off it.

Review by: Bluesbunny

Fresh Frosting – Frosting (Kentland Records)

Opening track, ‘Comfortable Enough’ starts of with a squwark and then slips into a sleepy rock ramble that recalls JJ Cale, but the pace is picked up with a countrified pop track called ‘Katrina Wells’ a song that sounds like it has already been on the charts and now is resident on every FM station.

The band make all this sound effortless, like they got up and got this done during one fine afternoon, in single takes. Whether or not this is so is besides the point (the album has been years in the brewing) because the band doesnt try to be different or artful, extreme or agitated, but rather play good tunes honestly.

Because of this many may skip past this album in search for some thing trendier perhaps, or seemingly hipper or seemingly more indie. That would be a huge shame, as the band cover a mulitude of styles and offer up a diverse set of great songs.

Stand out track for me is the delicate cover of Buckingham’s ‘Go Insane’ where Laura Lopardo takes control of the vocals and sways through the bittersweet with a gentle elegant touch.

to hear more go to:

Trax from these albums will be played in the new year on the NBT podcasts, stay tuned for that.


Taste Of AAA # 69

SONG “Katrina Wells”

CD Fresh Frosting (Kentland Records)

HOME Chicago

AND ANOTHER THING Frosting is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Mark Grzelak, who has released 10 previous albums with various bands. Frosting’s debut, Fresh Frosting, was written and recorded by Grzelak (aka Spiv), who played guitar, bass, keys, lap steel and sang, with the help of some drummers and vocalist Laura Lopardo. Grzelak is now joined in Frosting by Lopardo, Tim Lydon and Manny Vasquez.
CONTACT Matt Suhar (Tantrum Management) 773.620.5419 & Mark G (Frosting)


QUOTE “Chicago’s Frosting delivers a versatile & compelling brew of rock hooks on this debut.” —
Illinois Entertainer review 2/2011

Frosting is a band assembled by veteran musician Mark “Spiv” Grzelak to record his first effort as a frontman. The guitarist for Michael McDermott and other bands, Grzelak has been planning to release Fresh Frosting for years. “Comfortable Enough” offers common-sense advice on succeeding in life, and Grzelak joins vocalist Laura Lopardo for an acoustic take on Lindsey Buckingham’s “Go Insane.” Other tracks, like the energetic “Top Of The World,” help bring Grzelak’s longtime plan to fruition. (
– Terrence Flamm


Rainy Day Saints/Frosting/The Godfathers at the Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH, 2.13.11


“This song’s on capo 1, everybody.”

Chicago band Frosting have a full complement of women and bald dudes and a good sense of humor. The group, led by a singer/guitarist who is not bald or a woman but does sort of look like a mashup of Doug Fieger and Mark Arm, powered through an upbeat set of guitar pop. A post-song comment from the singer gives a good idea of their sound: “I tried to sell that song to Matthew Sweet. He said, ‘No fucking way.’” An enjoyable set from a solid band with good stage presence and some nice harmonies.

now this sound is brave (
The Godfathers, along with The Sights, Frosting
@ Frankie's Toledo Ohio on 2/19/11

Now on to the meat n bones of the show. First off I must say alot bands don't have the balls to put really good bands to open shows.The Godfathers are not one of those bands.

While I cant say I normally follow garage rock, and 'singer-song writer " rock I want to mention the openers because each of them were something special. The Frosting out of Chicago while there style of music in general is not usually my kind of thing, they delivered emotion, straight forward heart on their sleeves rock.I saw and heard 5 very different musicians probably from varying musical backgrounds all meshing together very well and performing an impressive show. I was passed a CD to listen to which I'll review for you all but I must say the Frosting impressed me and intrigued this grizzled old punk,I would love to see them play live again for sure.

- Assorted


"Fresh Frosting" 2010 (Kentland)
"Frosting II" AUGUST 2012 (Kentland)



FROSTING delivers a solid rock record. Comfortable enough to lay down a synth drum track behind an acoustic guitar …with that great Top 40 hook. Straight up guitar driven anthems to the laid back song-writing ingredients that make, FROSTING.

The band members have their individual histories of touring, writing, recording, surviving, and perseverance. Mark Grzelak, has been a staple in the Chicago music scene for years. He has been the principal guitar slinger/songwriter/ riff-writer/producer/ cut-and-paste creative musician in several long time "rooted in guitar slung rock" Chicago bands: Javelinas, Simple Simon, Blackmaker and lead guitarist for Michael McDermott.

Logging in gigs around the USA numbering well into the thousands, from the late CBGB's to the no-name bars in Fargo (mid-winter) and 10 albums worth of rock & roll to his name, Grzelak put together the hand-picked members of FROSTING himself. The collaboration between vocalist Laura Lopardo and Mark Grzelak is a welcomed fit. Lopardo delivers a haunting - Aimee Mann meets Johnny Cash - version of Lindsey Buckingham’s (Fleetwood Mac), , “Go Insane”, mid-record and puts you in a daze for a moment. It’s almost as if the record is flipped over when “Breathe Free” kicks in and brings you about. Each song has it’s rightful place on this debut, From the pop singles, “Katrina Wells” and “King Dawdle” to the defeated ballad, “Last Of The Good Men”, FROSTING delivers a solid rock record.

"FROSTING II" currently in the works - see tracks "Mrs. Sonjia" and "Wheels" for a sneak peek!