Marc With a C
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Marc With a C

Orlando, Florida, United States | SELF

Orlando, Florida, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter

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"Interview: Marc with a C"

In a world overrun with lifeless Autotuned vocals and perfectly Pro Tooled grooves, Florida-based singer/songwriter Marc Sirdoreus — who performs as Marc with a C — is like a breath of fresh air. His cassette 4-track recordings are unapologetically lo-fi. They’re imperfect by any technical yardstick. But, as everyone says (and rarely follows through with), the recording quality shouldn’t matter. At the end of the day, it should all be about the songs.

And in Marc with a C’s case, what terrific songs they are! Classic mid-’60s pop melodies and jangly guitars run up against witty ruminations on nerdy girls, teenage angst, and dating someone for their record collection. Marc’s songs go beyond the typical singer-songwriter vocabulary; they’re often astonishingly direct, delightfully funny, and painfully honest. The effect is not unlike having an enthusiastic best friend telling you about something amazing that happened to him the other day.
Marc with a C’s latest release is called — and oh man, the spambots are really going to find this blog now — Linda Lovelace for President. Don’t ask. Or, actually, I’ll ask, in the interview below.

Since 2002, most Marc with a C releases prominently featured Mr. Sirdoreus’s songwriting. This time out, Chris Zabriskie (live drummer for Marc with a C and a fine songwriter in his own right) contributed three songs, though it’s still Marc playing all the instruments on the album. The recording is appropriately rough around the edges, but it’s very much alive, very human, and brimming with lyrical gems from start to finish.

“I think everyone thinks I’m their little secret,” says Marc about his fans. He’s right. And you’re about to be let in on the secret as well.

Jeff: How would you describe the progression of your albums up until your newest one?

Marc: That’s difficult to sum up. My first album, Human Slushy, was pretty polished — for me, at least — and the second full-length was gearing up to be a big ol’ arena rock affair. However, that second record was more the sound and performances of the producer than my own ideas for Marc With a C. At the eleventh hour, we ditched all of those recordings and started fresh for what eventually became Bubblegum Romance. A much more stripped down, lo-fi and fun affair.
Chris Zabriskie really helped push me in the direction of making the album sound at least a little bit like the shows felt, and his offer to pick up the production duties sold me. If you play the original sessions for the first draft of that album against what was eventually released, it’s pretty clear that I had little to no input on what was being done with my songs. Chris helped me make the most important decisions of my musical life, for sure.
After those initial albums, I stayed pretty bare bones with the production, doing it on my own. I like to think each album has its own theme, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever done better than a record I put out in 2007 called Normal Bias. It was one complete thought, and sequenced in the order it was recorded in — meaning that you can hear my voice going out by the end of the album. I sang a lot over those three days.

How is the Linda Lovelace for President album different?

It’s actually pretty simple: though I thought that there was certainly an undercurrent of spiritual turmoil running through the lyrics of the tracks, I mostly wanted to try and make an album that was simply a really cool collection of pop songs. This backfired, of course. At the end of five straight days of recording, I plopped down on the couch to watch the film that the record takes its title from… and was shocked to find that all of these songs could serve as lyrical counterpoints to that film. Besides “Jessica, I Heard You Like The Who,” mind you.
This album also carries the distinction of having what are possibly the two longest songs I’ve recorded to date: the title track and “Satellite.” This surprised a lot of people, as I’ve sort of built my teensy little career on three minute long pop songs.

Hmmm… I didn’t notice “Satellite” was a long song. The length of it felt just right.

You know, my wife said the exact same thing about the song. That one had been kicking around on various demos for years, and we could never fit it into the grand scheme of whatever album we were working on at the time. The song was literally on Bubblegum Romance when we sent it off to the duplication plant, and I believe that Chris Zabriskie had to make some frantic last-minute calls when we decided to remove it.

For those who haven’t seen the movie Linda Lovelace for President, what exactly does the song have to do with the film?

That’s a hard one to answer, and this response will totally seem like I’m pulling your chain. The lyrics are fairly esoteric, and that’s because I was combining elements of the film with another subject altogether: the original beta testers of Quantum Link, which eventually morphed into America Online.
I saw an early tester going onto the service and becoming very involved with seeing how far the chat room personas could be taken, eventually reinventing himself as a woman. After this heterosexual man spent hours/days/weeks/months pretending to be a flirty girl named Nikki, there were some very notable changes in his behavior that I wouldn’t feel comfortable elaborating on. I would imagine that due to our ability to become a different person in a virtual world, there may likely have been a rise in multiple personality disorders.
How this related to the film for me is hard to explain, but in it, you see Linda trying to become a real actress, pretending that she had been forced into her porn career — even though it was the only reason anyone knew of her in the first place. And in the plot itself, she makes her freewheeling sexuality very, very well known while also attempting to sell herself as a wholesome and virtuous leader. For reasons that likely make no sense to anyone but me, I saw major connections between the film and what I’d witnessed firsthand. The lyrics in the song itself probably give no clues either, but it feels really good to sing about, and I’m very proud of that one.

What’s in your home studio?

I don’t actually have one. If I’m going to do some recording, I gather up the needed instruments from around the house, put them somewhere that won’t bother anyone else, and go to work until I’m tired of listening to the song. This is a picture of what my setup looked like when I did some simple acoustic demos a few days ago, and yes… that is my living room.

On “Born Vintage,” what gave you the idea to stop playing and let the drum beat take over?

That drop-out in “Born Vintage” was actually present on Chris’s home demo of the song. He’d gotten up to answer the door and he left the drum machine running. No one was there, so he sat back down and finished the song, leaving in the “blemish.” I thought it was a really cool counterpoint, so I kept it in my own rendition of the tune.

Great idea! What are some other lo-fi production tricks you’ve used?

I never really think of anything I’m doing while recording as a trick, so to speak.
Sometimes, I’ve been drinking and I try to sound sober during vocal takes. It usually works, so I think that might count. Often I’ll use as much tape as I possibly can before I start losing clarity on the magnetic strip, and then I’ll layer the last remaining parts onto a computer after transferring the material. The bad part about this is that the basic tracks end up submixed, and you can’t really go back and change anything you dislike later. You have to sort of be married to what you’ve committed to tape to finish a song in this fashion.

What’s the usual way you go about writing songs?

It’s always different. Sometimes I’ve simply got nothing to do, so I’m plunking around with a guitar, improvising lyrics. If something sticks out, I’ll drop everything and work on the idea until it’s finished.

Are you writing songs all the time?

Lately, the work has gone like this: I don’t smoke in my house, so I’ll go to the garage or patio to indulge my habit. I almost always have a notebook within reach, and I’ll scribble things out with no real purpose. Sometimes I end up with fully formed lyrics, other times I’ll just get maybe a scattered verse out of it that I’ll later use as a middle eight. And there are days when I wake up and simply feel like completing those things, so I scour notebooks and see which ones hold up the best. But often, if I don’t immediately have a melody in my head to go with the lyrics, it’ll never be finished. I do finish quite a bit more than I release, though.

Have you ever dated a girl primarily for her record collection?

Ah, would a gentleman tell a secret like that? I’m not sure. I can say that in my dating days, gals without good taste in music didn’t last long on my meter of interest. I can also say that in the past I’ve been more guilty of trying to get into the tape decks of possible girlfriends than underneath their clothes. Some actually found that more offensive.

Have you ever manufactured a crisis in your life in order to come up with song ideas?

I will honestly answer “no.” I’ve also been told that I can convince myself of anything, no matter how far-fetched, melodramatic or simply untrue it may be. So… I might have done so without realizing. I often don’t write about something nowadays unless it’s in the pretty distant past, but writing pop lyrics is really nothing if you’re not making mountains out of molehills, no?

It’s probably a testament to the strong persona you put across in your songs, then. I didn’t get the impression that you’re just a craftsman writing pop songs, but a person who lives to the extremes and documents it all with music. Is that at all accurate?

I guess it’s really a fair mixture of both. I do my very best to only sing lyrics that I can stand behind, and I’ve been known to retire songs when I no longer relate to them. But honestly… the craft of the song itself is just as important to me as what I’m saying in it. Should the lyrics ever become more important than the entire unit as a whole, I’d probably be better off writing pamphlets than pop tunes.

Have any of your lyrics gotten you in trouble?

Oh, yes. I was actually threatened with a lawsuit once. It seems that a gal wasn’t happy that I mentioned her by name in “Blowjob Queen,” but the joke is really on her. I thought the song was a stupid throwaway, but I decided to play it live to sort of underhandedly get even with her for being so ridiculous about the whole situation. Now it’s requested at nearly every show I play.

Is there any subject you won’t write about in your songs?

I attempt to steer clear of things that would upset my family, but that doesn’t always end up as a hard and fast rule. It’s more that I’ll write about anything I need to express at that moment, but just how much I’ll perform it after the fact remains to be seen. There are really personal songs that I haven’t performed live for years, (”Well Fucked Sailor” from my first album is a great example), but I still really love that I got the chance to express those sentiments. But when it comes to playing in front of a live audience, that’s when any sort of fear about my writing comes into play. Seeing facial expressions while people listen, you know? Sometimes performing live is a bit like being a film director that is expected to re-enact the audiences favorite scenes from your pictures.

What’s the best advice you ever received as a songwriter?

I didn’t receive this advice directly, but… I was watching a documentary about Mystery Science Theater once, and one of the writers said something to the effect of “we don’t worry about making sure everyone gets it, just that the right people get it.” That sentence is constantly in my mind when I’m creating anything.

If someone gave you the opportunity to record a big-budget record (but one that would meet your approval, unlike the original version of Bubblegum Romance), would you do it? Y’know, call it “Marc With a C Sells Out” or something…

I don’t know. It’d have to be for a label that I already really liked, and the producer would have to be a perfect match. I’m mostly into the lo-fi recording side of things because I don’t think that the songs I make up call for much more sheen than I give them. I’m not shooting for mainstream radio play, I don’t want People magazine rooting through my garbage, and best of all… If the recordings are “warts and all,” then the listener knows exactly what I sound like, not so much what an experienced producer can make me sound like.

What’s next for Marc with a C?

For the first time in a while, I’m not totally sure. I’ve made quite a few recordings in the last decade, and I think it’s time to take it on the road again. You know, enjoy what I’ve made and watch others hear it for the first time. As far as writing goes, I’m not exactly in a hurry to finish another album. I’ve written a few new songs, but they’re quite long, melancholy and esoteric. Of course… that’s the exact same thing I said right after we finished making Normal Bias, so… anything goes at this point.

10 things that inspire Marc with a C
# Vinyl records.
# My family.
# Religious confusion.
# Death.
# Bubblegum.
# Codeine.
# Showering.
# Limitations.
# Insomnia.
# People that let me ramble until I eventually make a point.
- Songs And Sonics


"Oh Fortuna/ Marc With A C/ Hot Lava, PopFest, Flicker, 8/16/08"

For the last Flicker show of PopFest, I had arrived – sadly – late. The exterior empty... Oh man, is everyone still stealing some extra moments for sustenance? Entering the theater/stage/bar the place was packed as Oh Fortuna was crowded on the stage. Some sat idly on the couch, others stood on the wooden folding chairs.

”If I don’t wake up, I’ll never stop dreaming,” sings JT Bringardner. The crowd chants and claps along before the synth amps into a full-bodied harmony.

I usually refer to Oh Fortuna as glam-twee; glam from presentation, and twee for the obvious. The glam certainly sparkled as the multi-member band matched in their KC and the Sunshine Band/ABBA uniforms of white jumpsuits and rainbow ornamentations. Their merch table (the only thing I can really see from my position) is a spread of glow-in-the-dark star shaped sunglasses and their free demo. Dreamy and whimsical, and fitting to their celestial sounds.

“C’mon let’s get some bodies movin – let’s get sweaty!” says Bringardner before their last song. The reverb of the synthesizer echoing up into the rafters as Oh Fortuna sings of light-hearted joy. ”I’ll believe it, I’ll believe it all when I’ve seen it all,” sings the chorus of voices as the last few overtones dangled in the air.

“That was really awesome” is all that could be heard afterwards.

Marc With a C and his acoustic guitar stood up next. An Adonis of Atari, the Prometheus of pocket protectors: Marc With a C puts the pow in power ballads. His cherubian face, pajama pants and bare feet the antithesis of Oh Fortuna’s colorfully constructed costumes. He looks like the guy who just got up from a late night of D&D and pizza and just had to “sing a song.” Marc With A C relates sagas of geekdom and the romantic stigmas that (un)accompany this realm.

Somewhat more of a standup comic than a musician, Marc packs his set full with quips between and within songs. “I’ve seen a lot of bands give things away, but I haven’t seen anything ‘Pop',” as he tosses Poptarts (and granola bars) to the crowd.

During a song, Marc develops an intimacy with the crowd as he shares his soul-searching experience on quizilla.com. He’s Veronica Sawyer. He has a thing for Christian Slater. Well... that’s not true. I mean, he liked Pump Up the Volume but he didn’t like Kuffs. He loves everyone he meets... Except Christian Slater – whom he actually has never met.

This is what Marc tells us as he expresses his love for everyone (except Christian Slater), even for people who go to monster truck rallies, drink Busch beer and beat up his mom.

“I’ve always wanted to jump off a stage in Athens... Now I did... It was fuckin awesome,” says Marc after he’d stepped off the seven inch rise of the Flicker stage and approached a female in the crowd.

Lastly the quartet from Richmond, Hot Lava, took the stage. I felt myself feeling entranced from the combination of the encroaching storm outside, and the smooth alto of Allison’s lead vocals. There’s something sort of late Pixies-ish about their music. Sleazy bass riffs, minimalistic key hooks and pop drum beats as their songs are structured on builds and releases of dynamic.

The atmosphere of Flicker’ Saturday shows was fun. As the sets progressed, attendance had filtered but the mood was jovial as everyone took an initiative to meet and greet with one another and shoot the well-received breeze drifting in from the West. - Athens Echange


"Marc With a C celebrates ten years with fan-friendly projects"

Marc with a C is taking fan-friendly to a whole new level. In eight days, Marc celebrates ten years as a performer and recording artist with the release of RetroLowFi: 10 Years Of Marc With a C. The career (to date)-spanning compilation highlights all of the favorites of Marc’s output, ranging from his debut, Human Slushy, up to this year’s Losing Salt. The two-disc, 54-song collection collects all of the audience favorites throughout Marc’s occupation as one of Orlando’s most engaging performers.

As Marc said in a recent interview describing the compilation (and the reasons behind it), “It’s inconvenient to be selling some of the albums – the only ones I have physical copies of – at the shows. You can get all of the albums for free online, but people come to the shows and want certain songs. It gets so complicated. It’s easier to go, ‘look, if you want to donate $10, I will give you everything you need. This will be the only thing you have to buy.”

Marc adds, “a lot of the songs that were played on stage [early on] never actually got released. I’ve been asked to put out studio versions of songs such as ‘Blowjob Queen’ and ‘Stairway To Rudolph’ and never actually gone through with it until now. “

The tracklisting for RetroLowFi: 10 Years Of Marc With a C is as follows:

Disc One
1. Song Song
2. As The Bombs Fell (unreleased)
3. Classic Country Wasn’t Multitracked In ’61
4. I Will Repossess Your Heart
5. We’re All Gonna Die
6. Broken Record Player
7. Stuck With Me
8. Victoria’s Girls
9. Nerdy Girls
10. Every Single Friend
11. All My Drug Use Is Accidental
12. Fighting For Love (Is Like F***ing For Virginity) (”Sex Times Three” version)
13. I Tried To Die Young
14. Bite Size Help
15. Liana (live, 2004)
16. Shock Treatment
17. Music Geek
18. Why Don’t Girls Like Me?
19. The Problem Is Me (”What The Hell Is Wrong With Marc With a C” version)
20. Melena (live on WPRK 2001, on Jessica Frick’s ‘Used Bin Rejects’ show)
21. Chicken Pox & Star Wars Guys
22. I Love Little P***y
23. A Very Special Episode (”What The Hell Is Wrong With Marc With a C” version)
24. Town In Flames
25. The Earth Didn’t Move, You’re Just Hung Over
26. Drunk Classic Rock Fans
27. Chasing The Bug

Disc Two
1. Blowjob Queen (unreleased studio version)
2. Stairway To Rudolph (unreleased studio version)
3. Ammonia (unreleased)
4. Counting Down
5. Bounce Bounce Bounce
6. ‘Til You Come Home To Me
7. Anything But Plain (”Sex Times Three” version)
8. If I Had a Dealer (”What The Hell Is Wrong With Marc With a C” version)
9. Terror Song/Astronomy Domine
10. No London In Brazil
11. God Save The Queen From Navy Seals
12. I’m In Love With Everyone I Know (”Sex Times Three” version)
13. What The Hell Were You On?
14. Ex-Neanderthal
15. Freezing In Florida
16. Jessica, I Heard You Like The Who
17. She Loves The B-Sides
18. RetroLowFi
19. Born Vintage
20. You’ve Got This Curse
21. San Diego Doorways
22. Happy To Be Alive
23. Laura, I Need Medicine (”What The Hell Is Wrong With Marc With a C” version)
24. Amy, It’s Kevin
25. Life’s So Hard
26. You Do Not Exist
27. Satellite

As evidenced here, the track list is designed to please long-time fans of Marc along with newcomers looking for a starting point for those looking to hear Marc’s razor wit and clever songwriting. And, for $10 for 54 songs, practically re-defines “value”. But, Marc goes even farther with the concept of giving to his fans.

Imagine an album recorded just for you. Your requests, your picks, recorded and sent to your house in a single edition available absolutely nowhere else. That’s the idea behind “Marc sings for you!”

To quote Marc’s statement about the endeavor:

If you’re like me, you probably like to experience music in the most personal way possible. I like to perform it in the most personal manner that I can, and that’s why I’m starting the Marc Sings For You series! Here’s how it works:

You buy a Marc Sings For You selection. I sit down with my four-track and record eight songs live just for you from my repertoire. I pick six of the tunes by pulling the titles from a Tupperware bowl, and when you check out via PayPal, you leave two song requests for me to fill on your tape. (The requests must be one of my originals or a cover I’m known for doing).

In roughly two weeks (give or take) you’ll receive a personally made “edition of one” from yours truly. Once you receive it, you’re free to share it, break it, covet it… anything you’d like except for selling it!

No artist in recent memory has gone this far to please his fans. And, to hear Marc tell it, it’s a pleasure to do so. To quote Marc once again about his recent projects:

Thanks so much for the last ten years, and thank you in advance for the next ten. I hope that you’ll like this celebratory package as much as I enjoyed making/writing/recording/living it. I’m proud of what I’ve done as Marc With a C, and I’m twice as proud of how vocal my listeners are in letting me know that they are there. Thank you for facilitating my need to document my life in song everyone. This one’s for you.

RetrowLowFi: 10 Years Of Marc With a C and the Marc Sings For You! collections can be ordered through Marc’s website. - Examiner


"Marc with a C releases a massively entertaining double album of lo-fi pop"

I think every music scene has a local hero. Here in Norman, Okla., it’s Hosty. Hosty has a standing Sunday night gig at the coolest bar/venue in town until “the end of time,” according to the management. If you live in Norman and you haven’t been to a Hosty show, it’s because you’re underage or ignorant. And I have known young’uns to stand outside the venue just to hear it. So really, it’s only the ignorant that don’t love Hosty, because to see him is to love him. He (because he and his music are almost inseparable at this point) is that awesome.

I have a feeling that Marc with a C is that guy in Orlando. Marc with a C gigs locally instead of touring to support his prodigious amount of releases. He is heavily involved in a local festival called Nerdapalooza, and he seems to appear in just about every avenue of music media in Orlando. And that’s just the info I’ve picked up from press releases, liner notes, and his songs. If I know all that and I don’t even live in Orlando, I wonder how ubiquitous he is in the right circles of Orlando.

And, as it is with Hosty, Marc with a C has gained this status by knowing his songwriting vision, crafting it to perfection, and cranking it out over and over. If Guided by Voices’ giddy passion for songwriting met the witty lyrics and and fiercely acoustic quality of early Mountain Goats records, it might resemble Marc with a C’s upbeat, wickedly funny and occasionally poignant guitar pop. Marc rarely features a full band like GBV, and his vocal style is much more palatable on first blush than John Darnielle’s nasally warble. The majority of the songs are intimate, goofy, eccentric, wonderful acoustic pop songs that you can sing and hum gleefully.

RetroLowFi is a retrospective of the last ten years of Marc with a C, and (in keeping with his prodigious output) he decided to put out a double CD with 27 songs on each side. Yes, there are an astounding fifty-four songs here, spanning the seven albums, handful of EPs, unreleased songs, live recordings, studio appearances and more that Marc has committed to tape in the past ten years.

It’s a remarkable release, and it’s incredibly enjoyable. The best tracks are crammed into the first half of the first disc and the second half of the second disc, which establishes that Marc with a C really believes that you should be listening to all 54 songs in a row as one huge album (which I have done, several times). For the uninitiated, that’s amazing tunes like the hilarious “Nerdy Girls,” the sobering “I Tried to Die Young,” the confessional singalong “Bite Size Help,” the incredibly honest love song “Stuck with Me,” and the clever “All My Drug Use is Accidental” on the first half. The back end includes the heart-breaking personal favorite “Amy, It’s Kevin,” the ba-da-bas of “RetroLowFi,” the is-it-satire-or-not “Life’s So Hard,” and “She Loves the B-Sides,” which is the best Marc with a C track I hadn’t heard.

The end of the first disc and the beginning of the second contain Marc’s goofier songs, like “Stairway to Rudolph” (which is the lyrics of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” set to “Stairway to Heaven”), “I Love Little Pussy” (an ancient kid’s poem set to music), “Ammonia” (a list of things ammonia is good for), and “God Save the Queen from Navy Seals” (inexplicable). Marc said his goal was to have only one album necessary to buy, and the album definitely spans everything in his collection. This isn’t a greatest hits album (because I would cut out the entire middle to make that happen, with the exception of the wonderful “Bounce Bounce Bounce”); it’s an everything-I-am compendium.

And that makes it absolutely necessary if you like lo-fi acoustic pop. Marc with a C is a man with a distinct songwriting style that’s entirely entertaining. Add to the deal his witty insight on how life works and a willingness to be honest about his own problems, and you’ve got a recipe that is simply impossible to dislike. Get this album.
- Independent Clauses


"The Coldest Satellite"

Marc with a C is fucking punk rock.

Not in the way that the Dead Boys or the Pistols were punk rock, mind you. More in the vein of Elvis Costello or, better yet, Jonathan Richman.

Marc Sirdoreus writes songs from the proper punk vantage point. Less a place of fashion and flash, and more from a simple, unpretentious, human perspective.

His recently released RetroLowFi: 10 Years Of Marc With a C chronicles a decade's breadth of his music and, though a handful of the songs show the unfortunate leanings of a fledgling songwriter, it proves itself to be a phenomenal collection.

At 54 tracks stretched across two discs, RetroLowFi is a tad unwieldy as a review subject. Its extreme duration makes it prohibitive with regard to my traditional track-by-track breakdown, but, truth be told, I have grown a bit weary of that structure anyway. Thus, I'll attempt to ruminate on the meat of this collection in a more concise, if less linear, fashion. But I can't talk about what the album is without first talking about what it isn't.

It isn't slickly produced or perfectly packaged; it is instead purposefully, ingeniously rough around the edges. Yet by the same token, it isn't simply a haphazard collection of solo acoustic numbers, as one might expect from Marc's loose and informal live sets. Spanning everything from bedroom ballads to live, full-band rockers, RetroLowFi is the sampler platter of career retrospectives. It has a lot to offer, but chooses to do so by delivering a number of small yet serviceable portions spread out over both discs, with little groupings of similarly themed or orchestrated tracks that inevitably give way to something strikingly different before the listener becomes overly complacent.

It all kicks off with the poppy and pleasantly juvenile "Song Song," before giving way to Marc's bread and butter, the awkward love song, in the form of the as-yet unreleased "As the Bombs Fell." From there he segues into a bevy of barroom pleasers in quick succession ("Classic Country Wasn't Multitracked in '61," "I Will Repossess Your Heart" and the Alro Guthrie-tinged "Nerdy Girls"), with only a few minor missteps. This also affords Marc the opportunity to ruminate on his second overarching theme, the joy of music itself ("Broken Record Player.")

A bit before the halfway point, volume 1 does suffer due to some poor song placement. The proximity of the emo and occasionally atonal "Every Single Friend" and the (intentionally?) cliché "Fighting For Love (Is Like Fucking For Virginity)" kills a little of the artistic inertia, but Marc quickly gathers it again with the cleverly introspective "I Tried To Die Young" and a brief foray into inspired musical comedy by way of a live version of his song "Liana."

This, in turn, leads the collection to its first true highpoint, Marc's beautifully realized cover of "Shock Treatment," the title track from 1981's spiritual successor to the beloved Rocky Horror Picture Show, which paints the song as a haunting acoustic ballad far removed from the electro-rock of the original. Marc then treats us to another string of highlights including the sometimes clumsy but always endearing "Music Geek," childhood anthem "Chicken Pox & Star Wars Guys" and the disturbing (but undeniably stirring) "Town In Flames."

Disc 1 winds down with the broken-dreams narrative of "Drunk Classic Rock Fans" and the plodding, contemplative "Chasing the Bug," which, in turn, play off the pair of unreleased studio versions of Marc's "Blowjob Queen" and "Stairway To Rudolph" that kick off disc 2.

While this volume struggles a bit early on, with tracks like the They Might Be Giants-style romp entitled "Ammonia," it also sees some of Marc's most charming material (particularly in the form of the kid-friendly "Bounce Bounce Bounce.") Overall, the second installment somehow feels a bit more substantial, with cuts about real women ("Anything But Plain"), perfectly-layered pop ditties ("No London in Brazil") and wonderfully surreal lyricism ("I’m In Love with Everyone I Know"), which more than makes up for its few shortcomings (specifically "God Save The Queen from Navy Seals," which, though almost certainly unintentionally, apes the vocal melody from Green Day's "Basket Case" almost note-for-note).

And though it arrives slightly later in the album arch than disc 1, it also has a definite high point. In this case, Marc's four-part opus on the power of music and the unique magic of the true music lover – "Jessica, I Heard You like the Who," "She Loves the B-Sides," "RetroLowFi" and "Born Vintage" – is, perhaps, the most inspired track arrangement you'll find this side of a genuine concept album.

If RetroLowFi's second disc suffers at all, it's simply because it doesn't end on that triumphant quatrain. Still, in its waning moments the album manages to come through with the requisite fire and skill to remind you that Marc with a C has songwriting chops to spare. "You've Got That Curse" is an unlikely but insistent toe-tapper, "Happy to Be Alive" is a perfectly balanced meditation on the simple life and "Laura, I Need Medicine," while not a complete lyrical triumph, is a catchy little joint about stalking Laura Prepon.

The album's ultimate closer, "Satellite," is a delicate six-minute acoustic jam that's thick with vocal overdubs and positively packed with that special brand of angst that somehow manages to sound genuinely poignant. It's an efficient wrap-up to an album that often wanders wide between the humorous and the tender. Like any good song, it occupies the conscious mind while summarily appealing to those raw emotions simmering beneath the surface.

That said, I can think of no better way to sum up a career retrospective like RetroLowFi.

It succeeds as an album much in the same way that Marc's style has kept his music relevant for the past decade; it ebbs and flows, sometimes slowing to a trickle, but always moving forward. As a relatively new but also fairly discriminating devotee of Marc with a C, it's easy to recognize this project for what it truly is: a comprehensive list of fan favorites wrapped up in a single tidy package. While there were a handful of tracks that I didn't completely feel, RetroLowFi is an amazing effort that surely spotlights a fair measure of your old favorites and sweetens the deal with new tracks, unreleased material and alternate takes. At 10 bucks, it’s a steal for seasoned fans and a perfect jumping-off point for newbs.

Grab a copy now, and discover a new favorite.

"I've asked for your number, but please let me explain…" - Hipster, Please!


Discography

* Human Slushy (2002)
* One Planned Slip... Live! (2003) (live album)
* Hey Rape Girl, Vol. 1 EP (2003)
* Bubblegum Romance (2004)
* This World is Scary as Fuck (2005)
* Shock Treatment (2005) (covers of songs from the film Shock Treatment)
* Life's So Hard (2006)
* Another Planned Slip! (2006) (live album)
* What the Hell is Wrong with Marc with a C? (2007) (compilation)
* Normal Bias (2007)
* Share the Covers, Bitch! (2007) (covers album)
* Linda Lovelace for President (2008)
* Losing Salt (2009)
* RetroLowFi: 10 Years Of Marc With a C (2009) (compilation)
* Share the Covers, Bitch! (Part II) (2010) (covers album)
* Pop! Pop! Pop! (2010)
* Share the Covers, Bitch! (Part III) (2010) (covers album)
* Motherfuckers Be Bullshittin' (2011)

Photos

Bio

Marc with a C is an absolute geek, and his breadth of pop culture knowledge is intimidating. (In fact, back in the Rock’ N Roll Jeopardy days, the show’s producers deemed Marc too informed to take part.) As you might expect, he’s such a music nerd that his record collection (almost entirely vinyl) takes up two rooms in his house. And if you get him talking about Star Wars or the supreme genius of The State, you’re in trouble.

This expanse of nerd-dom, not to mention his preference for lo-fi sensibilities, factor heavily into his musical output. Over the past 12 years, Marc has released eight records as well as countless EPs, live albums and official bootlegs. Usually just his voice and an acoustic-electric guitar (but sometimes drums, keys and bass), the albums are overflowing with indiepop giddiness, especially witty lyrics, charming boy-girl stories, choral harmonies, and, of course, pop culture references.

To boot, his live shows are infectious as all get-out. Known for his marathon shows, which can occasionally last three hours, Marc leaps across the stage, plays his guitar behind his head and makes ill-mannered audience members rue the day they were ever conceived. This energy and earworm capabilities got him a featured spot at Nerdapalooza, a nerd music Mecca where Marc has been featured for the past three years.

What’s more, Marc wants you to hear his songs - which he calls lo-fi, sarcastic indiepop - and he wants you to hear them on whatever format you prefer. If you want high-quality mp3s, he’s provided a way to get you that. You can find him on iTunes, or you can find everything at www.marcwithac.com. Of course, if you want a CD or vinyl record, Marc can get one for you, too. And if you’d like to make a donation, Marc will say thank you. He might even make you a mixtape.