Mariage Blanc
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Mariage Blanc

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band Pop Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Video Premiere: Mariage Blanc - "Whatever You Say I Am""

Check out the new video for "Whatever You Say I Am", from Mariage Blanc.

The video was made by stop-motion artist and Lhasa keyboardist, Eric Anderson. - Paste Magazine

"Best of What's Next: Mariage Blanc"

Hometown: Pittsburgh
Members: Matt Ceraso, Josh Dotson, Josh Kretzmer, Sam McUmber, Chris Williams
For Fans Of: The Shins, Beulah, Badly Drawn Boy

When Pittsburgh five-piece Mariage Blanc started working on their debut full-length, they had grand plans of recording the whole album to tape, inspired by some of their favorite ’60s records, along with newer bands like Wilco and Grizzly Bear. They converted an old warehouse into a studio, where they could take their time, but their ambitions turned into a comedy of errors.

After they recorded all the drum tracks and scratch tracks, they realized their tape stock was disintegrating. Every time they played it back, filaments would splinter off. They had to bake it in a food dehydrator and try to transfer it to digital. That’s when a blizzard hit Pittsburgh.

“So we kind of got snowed into the studio, and our drummer had to rerecord all the drum parts,” says one of the band’s two songwriters Josh Kretzmer. “And at that point the studio wasn’t heated, and it was so cold he’d have to go upstairs and soak his feet in hot water between takes so he could feel them again. Then after that, when we were working on the bass, we were playing back some takes and we realized that the tape-machine was actually now playing back at incorrect speeds. It was varying in the speeds it would play back—which, you know, could be pretty bad. So we had to scrap all the bass takes, we salvaged all the drums and transferred them to digital and worked on a computer from then on out. After that, it was kind of smooth sailing.”

Kretzmer was writing songs on his own when he met Matt Ceraso, the band’s other songwriter. “We decided we wanted to do a split EP with three of my songs and three of his,” says Ceraso. “The more that we worked on it, we realized that we had similar tastes and interested in doing the same kind of thing musically. So we just decided to just write together, and we eventually picked up the other guys.”

Those musical sensibilities—shimmery pop melodies that occasionally recall the sounds of Laurel Canyon—were quite different from the rest of the Pittsburgh scene. “There are a lot of indie folk bands,” says Ceraso. “There’s also a lot of Black Sabbath-y, post-punk kind of stuff.”

“Like a hard psych rock kind of scene,” adds Kretzmer. “There are a few Indie bands, but to some degree we’re kind of an odd man out.”

Still, though they’d like to quit their day jobs—Kretzmer is a software engineer for a robotics company and Ceraso is working for the University of Pittsburgh in their Student Records department—they have no plans to leave their hometown. “Pittsburgh is a shockingly vibrant city,” Ceraso says, “more so than people give it credit for, I think. You can live here and work a part-time job, have a nice apartment and spend all the rest of your time doing art. Because it’s so cheap, there’s a really great art community.” - Paste Magazine

"Out This Week 11/16"


Mariage Blanc ? Whatever You Say I Am (MP3)
from Mariage Blanc (self-released)

.... - KEXP Blog

"Daily Downloads (British Sea Power, Girl Talk, and more)"

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads, plus free and legal live sets from around the internet.

Mariage Blanc: "Rag to a Bull" [mp3] from Mariage Blanc - Largehearted Boy

"New Music Tuesday"

To celebrate today’s crop of releases, here are new mp3s from Crushed Stars, Jesu, Mariage Blanc, Radical Face, the Russian Futurists, Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck and Rusty Willoughby. Also, vote for your favorite of today’s new releases. - Magnet Magazine

"Mariage Blanc + New Shouts / 10.8.10 / Brillobox / Pittsburgh, PA"

This shows was a mix of familiar and new, and it was all-around great. I’ve seen Mariage Blanc a handful of times around town and was really pleased to see that they’ve developed an engaging live set that showcases their artfully-crafted tunes in an exciting way. I’d never seen New Shouts before, but neither have you, because this was their first show. I never would have guessed; they tore the house down, so to speak. It was a perfect Friday night at the B-Box.


Mariage Blanc came onstage around 11:30 and played for about an hour, running through their newly-released (in Pittsburgh) album in full (also throwing in a great cover song, plus one from their previous EP for an encore). As I mentioned above, I’ve seen them a few times and while I’ve enjoyed listening to their albums on my iPod, I haven’t always felt like they translated their sound that well to the live setting. One guess I have to explain this phenomenon is that I always seem to catch them immediately before or after an overwhelmingly exciting and loud band (like Meeting of Important People or Cymbals Eat Guitars), but it could also be that I’ve just happened to see them evolve over time and build a more confident onstage demeanor. Or maybe it’s where I’ve been standing. Who really knows and who really cares at this point? For this show, I was front and center and completely engrossed the whole time. Their new album has the occasional quiet and introspective stretch amongst the more rockin’ guitar riffs and percussion, but the band managed to convey those moments effectively during the show, building up an exciting atmosphere and then dialing down to just vocals and keyboard, then back up into a full five-piece jam session with the guitars jumping around and stomping their feet. Check out what they do during “Rag to a Bull” (video from this show) to see what I mean; it’s much faster than the album version, but the spare vocal moments don’t seem rushed or forced, just … in their right place. Another reason I wholly enjoyed this show was that I’ve been listening to the album for a few weeks and have really grown attached to it, and getting to see them recreate some of my favorite moments right in front of me was really cool. I mean, that’s why we go to live shows, isn’t it? I could listen to this album on loop with my iPod and earbuds, but getting to see Matt sing my favorite lines (like, “I’m better suited to drag my heels / Taking furious steps just to feel as though I’m standing still” from “Trances”) or see Josh’s fingers crawl all over the fretboard during the bridge in “Whatever You Say I Am” or see Chris throw in a snazzy drumstick twirl during a cymbal fill, and all of that happening only a few feet away … well, that just really completes the experience.
Mariage Blanc‘s new album is “officially” released nation-wide on November 16, but you can buy a physical copy from the band at any of their upcoming shows or download the single “Whatever You Say I Am” for free on their Bandcamp page. Their next show around here is on Saturday, October 23 at Howler’s. See yinz there! - Draw Us Lines

"Daily Downloads (Girl Haggard, Carissa's Wierd, and more)"

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads, plus free and legal live sets from around the internet.

Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:


Mariage Blanc: "Whatever You Say I Am" [mp3] from Mariage Blanc (out November 16th) - Largehearted Boy

"mp3 Mixtape: Friday Mixtape CXXVI"

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not in New York this weekend. And if you are, CMJ 2010 has already kicked your ass enough that you’re now totally fearful of sunlight and/or anything that smells like alcohol. So, really, the opportunity to sit in front of your computer and listen to a mix of the week’s best new tracks takes on a new meaning this particular meaning.

Please enjoy. - Consequence of Sound

"Under The Radar - Premiere: "Rag To A Bull""

Mariage Blanc (French for "white marriage") is an indie-pop fivesome based in Pittsburgh, PA. Their self-released Broken Record EP hit in 2008 and proved to be a nice introduction to their warm sound. They spent three months in the spring of 2009 transforming a dilapidated warehouse into a practice and recording studio for their debut self-titled LP.

Recording sessions commenced in January of this year, and where beset on all sides by equipment breakdowns, snowstorms, and dissolving master tapes. Six months later they've emerged out of their holes with a shining example of pop. Look forward than the jaunty-yet-poignant rocker "Rag to a Bull" for proof. Our exclusive download is above. Also, check out album track "Whatever You Say I Am." Mariage Blanc streets on November 16. Look for a U.S. tour in late 2010 and 2011. Stay in contact with the band via Facebook and Twitter. - Under The Radar

"Mariage Blanc unbroken"

When Mariage Blanc called its debut EP "Broken Record," little did the band know it would foreshadow things to come.

In making the follow-up, the local indie-pop band had to work through a string of studio mishaps. First, the old stock tape it was using to lay down tracks literally crumbled into bits. Then, working in an unheated studio around the time of the massive blizzard, the members realized that the tape machine was having issues with dropouts.

"For a while it really did feel like the cards were stacked against us," says singer Josh Kretzmer. "We started recording in January, and got our masters back in late July."

Happily, nothing sounds broken about the band's vibrant full-length debut, which is celebrated with a CD Release Party at the Brillobox Friday and then goes national on Nov. 16.

To paraphrase Thom Yorke, although Radiohead doesn't seem to be much of an influence, everything seems to be in its right place on this second effort, which seamlessly blends the nuances of modern indie-pop with the more jubilant qualities of the '60s variety. Mariage Blanc does love to flash its varied influences, whether it's Belle & Sebastian or Supertramp.

Take the single, "Whatever You Say I Am," which opens the album with sleigh bells and a sly reference to the Doors' "Love Her Madly" before blossoming into a exquisite indie-pop song a la Josh Rouse or Matt Pond PA.

"Sonically, we were going for a more assertive sound than on 'Broken Record,'" Mr. Kretzmer says. "We intentionally dialed down the use of strings and other ancillary instrumentation. We tried to build the arrangements around just the five of us playing, so that the additional instrumentation was a bit more of a background element. Since we built our own studio last year, we had the luxury of being able to pay attention to each sound without worrying about burning money. We tried to get everything to sound as 'right' as possible during the initial tracking instead of fixing it in the mix. If a part didn't sound right, we'd just keep trying until we got it."

On top of the textured and sometimes jazzy ensemble playing are the melodic vocals and smart songcraft of Mr. Kretzmer and Matt Ceraso, who created this Mariage Blanc three years ago by marrying two different bands.

"This time around writing was substantially more collaborative," Mr. Kretzmer says. "Matt or myself would still come up with chords and melodies on our own, but we would start working together much earlier in the process. For instance, I might help him write a chorus for a song he had started, or he might write a bridge for one of mine. Once Matt and I had the basic melodies and chords together, the entire band would work out the arrangement together. All told, this record is more representative of the band as a whole -- everyone had their hands in the writing and arrangements."

The show is at 9 p.m. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Mariage Blanc overcomes a blizzard, mechanical malfunction -- and its own finicky tastes (Cover Story)"

Last winter -- the winter that seemed it might never end -- Mariage Blanc set out make its second record, a self-titled LP. It might have been a good time to hunker down in a cozy recording space, but the band's home base, a practice space and studio in the furthest reaches of Upper Lawrenceville, isn't exactly cozy.

The studio's main source of warmth is a propane heater, the kind probably better suited to outdoor use. In the deep of winter, when drummer Chris Williams began laying down the tracks that would be the backbone of the record, water left standing in the space overnight would freeze.

"It's hard to play drums when you're that cold -- plus I had layers of clothes on," Williams recalls. So when he finished committing the drum parts to the analog tape that the band insisted on using, it was a relief.

Until the tape started falling apart.

"The tapes were old tape stock, and I was playing them back," explains singer, guitarist and main engineer Josh Kretzmer. "I noticed a bunch of shed all over the machine. Imagine playing back hard work and seeing these flecks of metal falling off ..."

"Flakes of music, really," adds keyboard player Sam McUmber.

Those disintegrating tapes illustrate the kind of syndrome that plagued the band's entire recording process: Once those tapes were saved, the band scrapped them anyway because it didn't like the snare sound. Strings and winds were recorded, then tossed as the band realized it wanted to keep its recorded sound stripped down to the core instruments -- guitar, bass, and various shades of organ and drums.

Blizzard, mechanical malfunction, finicky tastes -- all of these factors pushed the release back months from original projections. But the self-titled LP, a follow-up to the 2008 EP Broken Record, served as the project around which the band coalesced. Where the first EP was largely songs written by either Kretzmer or guitarist Matt Ceraso, with the rest of the band adding parts, the musicians wrote and recorded the new LP as a more holistic group effort.

"Everything was very systematic and disciplined," explains McUmber, who plays professionally for theater companies and the like. "When [Kretzmer and Ceraso] did their guitars, they spent a week or so where they went through every song and wrote down the exact settings they wanted to use" to achieve the right tone.

The new record was also the impetus for building the band's studio, in the space that it had begun renting in the spring of 2009. With help from friends, the group turned a rather forbidding, uninsulated room into something that looks passable and sounds impeccable.

The band's space is strewn with organs and odd little additions like homemade sound diffusers (wooden contraptions that look like witchcraft to the untrained eye), indicating that, while it's not a professional space in the strictest sense, this isn't a poor man's recording nook. And the new LP, with its months of re-recording and mixing, sounds more professional than something recorded in a space where the only thing separating the control room and tracking room is a thin wall and a door with a hole where the knob should be.

The studio isn't the only aspect of the band's game that's been kicked up some. Mariage Blanc's first EP was a series of pop tunes with vocals that recalled Elliot Smith and a head-bobbing beat reminiscent of Beulah. The LP, while retaining the general sound of the first, is more complex. One standout track, "Trances," shows shades of Aloha and of old-time AM gold -- a vocal flourish in the verse is a dead ringer for one in Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)."

When the band branches out like this -- when Josh Dotson's bass lines move subtly and the guitar shimmers that Kretzmer and Ceraso create aren't just staccato hits on the downbeat -- Mariage Blanc creates worthwhile additions to the pop-music landscape. They're five good musicians and producers, but the album's real payoffs are those moments that show they're also innovative songwriters. - Pittsburgh City Paper

"Mariage Blanc - Mariage Blanc (Independently released CD, Pop)"

The debut full-length release from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Mariage Blanc. This was such an easy and OBVIOUS Top Pick this month. These guys play the kind of super melodic modern breezy pop that really hits us the right way. These songs are mid-tempo relatively soft pop with a heavy emphasis on lyrics and vocal melodies. The band pays a great deal of attention to arrangements...and yet they never seem to go crazy in the overdubbing department. The band is comprised of Matt Ceraso, Joshua Dotson, Josh Kretzmer, Sam Moumber, and Chris Williams. Not only are the songs top notch, dreamy and ultimately satisfying, but the vocals are absolutely incredible (with harmonies to die for). Can't say enough good things about this one. Killer cuts include "Whatever You Say I Am," "Move On," "From Bangs To Whimpers," and "Origami." WoooooooOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW...... Highly recommended. TOP PICK. - babysue

"CD Review - Mariage Blanc - Mariage Blanc"

The new self-titled album by Pittsburgh’s Mariage Blanc arrives as a complete summation of a band’s talents. With a self-built studio and guitarist/vocalist Josh Kretzmer at the board, the group set about recording their first full-length statement. It is certainly a statement.

The press release lists enough vintage gear to make anyone jealous, but the biggest compliment would be how little you hear it. Simply put, the album sounds natural. It is obvious that consistency is one of the goals of the record - consistency in quality, production, songwriting, and performance. The album is impeccably mixed and arranged. Each instrument sits perfectly in relation to the others. Guitars weave in and out with electric piano alternating between backdrop chords and harmonized melody. Drums mainly play a beat-keeping role, but step closer to the spotlight to add color on “Poor Portraits” and the floating “Trances“. Vocal and instrumental melodies emerge and recede in smooth succession on nearly every track, continually providing new hooks that widen the scope of each song.

However, this consistency can be distracting. The album does not contain a “best song”; rather, each song maintains the same quality, blurring some of the lines between songs. Most songs start on a minor chord, creating a slightly melancholy feel throughout even though many of the songs are ultimately triumphant. The commonality of a quarter-note 1-2 1-2 beat creates a deja-vu-like link between “Set to Repeat”, “From Bangs to Whimper”, “Trial and Error”, “Move On”, and “Rag to a Bull”.

But that is just a high-level assessment. Though songs may start in a similar fashion, the path they choose to take varies greatly. The quick stride of “With Friends Like These” suddenly halts when it shifts into a slow strut, piling on harmonized guitars, ending with a tight rhythm section workout under ooh-ed vocals. (This song also contains one of the most beautiful electric piano patterns.) “Move On” throws in guitar/trumpet lines and ends with keyboardist Sam McUmber doing his best Stevie Wonder by layering piano, Wurlitzer, omnichord, and Hammond organ. While packing the biggest punch, “Origami” shows finesse through a series of dual guitar passages that place the rhythm in and out of cut time.

Lyrically, most of the songs maintain an I/You style narrative, even though writing and singing duties appear to be split between Matt Ceraso and Josh Kretzmer. “Trances” contains some pretty biting lines. “For them it’s just as well painting pictures of perfect health / Not falling prey to illusions and stories they can barely sell.” Ceraso’s voice effortlessly glides through the words, recalling Elliott Smith, but only in the way Smith recalled Lennon, which is to say, a little bit here and there. Kretzmer’s voice has a bit more bite and provides a nice counter, while still retaining the same statement of purpose.

Looking at the current musical landscape, Mariage Blanc has some of the smartest arrangements and production values around. The songs are classic examples of pop, but actively push the walls they moved into. Here’s to their consummation! - David Bernabo

"Locals Mariage Blanc release cinematic debut EP, Broken Record"

The first thing you'll likely notice upon listening through Broken Record, the debut EP by local band Mariage Blanc, is how good it sounds, how dynamic and engaging -- especially for a group that's been on the scene for less than a year. You might also notice how neatly the EP divides between sparse, moodily dramatic songs and more upbeat pop.

That duality stems from the fact that Mariage Blanc was sort of two bands to begin with: Principal songwriters and vocalists Matt Ceraso and Josh Kretzmer were both trying to start bands when it became apparent they could join forces. (And now you understand their band name, which refers to unconsummated marriages of convenience.) Rallying around these two are Jeff Baker (trumpet, guitar, organ); Josh Dotson (bass); Sam McUmber, of the Hood Gang, on keyboards; and Chris Williams on drums (replacing Jeff Ryan, who plays on the EP).

The EP starts off with "Contrary to Popular Belief," an eerie musing on the dangers of nostalgia, with intriguing chord changes sketched out with acoustic guitar, percussion and mellotron. "All memories are skewed," Ceraso's smooth vocal insists, before a distorted piano figure takes charge, and the song fades into crackling fuzz. Pretty sophisticated stuff. Joe Bartoletta at Machine Age Studio deserves some praise for the EP's naturalistic and yet imaginative sonics; additional overdubs and mixing were handled by Kretzmer at his house.

The second song, "Off-white Noise" immediately recalls Wilco's "War on War" and "Jesus, Etc." with its electric piano, organ and touch of early Steely Dan; a nice breakdown dominated by Wurlitzer and strings (played by Liam Cooney and Jim Walton) leads into an extended vamp. Strings also play an important role in the Beatlesque "Marquee," especially in the somewhat "A Day in the Life" mid section.

"Concrete Face" and "Sunken Ship" are on the moodier side, mixing acoustic guitars with spooky atmospherics again along the lines of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. In addition to those comparisons, Kretzmer notes the influence of Elliott Smith, The Kinks and Zombies, Okkervil River and Belle & Sebastian, as well as producer/musician Jon Brion, he of many a film score. Indeed, out of Mariage Blanc's seven songs, more than half would make a perfect closing-credits song for a quirky indie dramedy, and "Oh, the Humanity!" in particular.

That music-supervisor-friendliness, as well as the kind of lush orchestration and arrangement suited to the era of Arcade Fires, Polyphonic Sprees and Broken Social Scenes, make Broken Record a very promising debut. - Pittsburgh City Paper

"Listen to This: Mariage Blanc"

Listen to This:

Mariage Blanc – Broken Record; Self Release – October 2008

You know how every now and again you stumble on something truly amazing, and you tell all your friends about it, and make a note of exactly when and where you found it, and what you were wearing at the time, so that when the thing gets really, really huge you can remind everyone that you were the one who thought they were cool before they got big?

Well…I discovered Mariage Blanc one fortunate night at a fund-raising gig at brillobox. I was there to support local poets, and had no idea I was in for such a musical treat. After seeing that show, I am convinced these guys are going to be big. And, I’m going to brag to all my friends that I liked them before the rest of the world. I can’t wait.

Indie rock with a whimsical bent, Mariage Blanc (which means ‘white wedding’ in French, but has nothing do to with Billy Idol)’s first release Broken Record is highly reminiscent of Wilco, Elliott Smith, and Belle and Sebastian in all the right ways. Intelligent, melodic, catchy, frank, folksy, and emotionally honest, the seven songs on this debut album will have you hooked. This talented quintet excels at clever lyricism, overlaying their lush yet quiet orchestration with poignant musings or sad and quirky realizations. Unexpected instrumentation like trumpets and Wurlitzers keep the songs from descending into shoegazer-dom or pretention. I can’t say enough about the production quality – think the Beatles’ White Album. I suggest you grab yourself a copy of Broken Records immediately, and when Mariage Blanc takes over your town, you can rub your hipness in everyone’s face. - Modcloth

"Mariage Blanc - New Music Experience"

In French, ‘mariage blanc’ literally means, white marriage.

That’s cool and all, but in English, ‘mariage blanc,’ gives definition to a six-piece band that is worth noticing. When the term comes up in conversation over here at N.M.X, we don’t think of marriage or white doves, we think of the melodic, relaxing sound of the group from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mariage blanc is an indie rock band consisting of Jeff Baker, Matt Ceraso, Josh Dotson, Josh Kretzmer, Sam McUmber, and Chris Williams. These six gentlemen have been making music since early 2007, and have been doing it well. Their album titled, “Broken Record,” has a similar sound to that of the Beatles, Elliott Smith, and Wilco, to name a few. Whether you’re driving around, hanging out, sippin’ a beer or just jammin' on the iPod, these guys can be sure to fit your mood. Mariage blanc has a relaxing sound complimented by soft vocals which can provide an easy listen for open ears.
New Music Xperience is happy to offer their album to you free. This band is filled with young talent, but most importantly, they make good music. Mariage blanc is a group that is well deserving of some exposure. We hope you enjoy the change of pace. Head over to their bandcamp website to stream, "Broken Record," and if you like it, click the download link and toss it on the mp3 player, free! - New Music Experience

"Mariage Blanc - Broken Record -"

During the cold winter months, especially once the holidays are over, I tend to seek out that one record that's able get me through. Last year, I relied heavily on Steel Train's Trampoline. Released the previous fall, it provided the perfect mix of somber ballads and lighthearted jingles. It wasn't overly sunny, but laid-back enough to make troubles seem to fade and the stressors of the season seem a little less significant. This year, there's an unlikely contender to fill that role: Broken Record, the debut EP from Pittsburgh's Mariage Blanc.

At seven tracks and twenty-seven minutes in length (temporally in line with Dustin Kensrue's Please Come Home, which was billed as a full length), it's a generous offering, and what a fine dose of relaxed indie-pop it is. There's a close resemblance to the Clientele in the warm harmonies of Matt Ceraso and Josh Kretzmer, while their music exhibits various influences from around the indie-rock world, a touch of folkiness (though not enough for it to be considered alt-country), and the occasional inflection of brass and strings. It's a remarkably winning combination for a band in its relative infancy.

We're introduced to the band with "Contrary to Popular Belief," a song with a vibe that's haunting at the outset before ending with peppy guitars. Then, there's the classic guitar-pop sound of "Off White Noise," which bears a strong resemblance to the aforementioned Steel Train album. "Marquee" features the clever coupling of keyboard, which primarily drives the song, with strings, which dominate the track's bridge. One of Mariage Blanc's major strengths on this record is in their apt usage of varied instrumentation. The inclusion of trumpet, cello and piano never sound whimsical, but almost necessary when they arise.

A day as gray as that depicted on the album's cover art would make the perfect setting for the lonely acoustic number, "Concrete Face," a stylistic curveball on a record full of delightful curveballs. "Oh, the Humanity!" finds the clouds receding before rays of sunshine, in the form of the song's playful piano jaunt. The trumpets rise to a mournful swell on "Sunken Ship" over lyrics lamenting words that should have been left unspoken. The closer, "Famous Last Words," brings everything together into one neat five-minute package, including some guitar work that's Jeff Tweedy-esque, though merely in tone, not in his penchant for deconstruction.

When it's all said and done, there's really not much more you could ask for from a record like this. It's varied, yet still manages to sound focused. There's a lot going on, yet it's easy to listen to and not exhausting in the least. It's an amazingly promising debut and my only hope is that enough people catch on to Mariage Blanc's beautifully melodic indie-rock that the band can continue to make music, because if this is just the beginning, I can't wait to hear what's to come. -

"Mariage Blanc's Broken Record"

There is a certain sense of stubbornness that, in some cases, can make a solo artist great. When gifted songwriters maintain their individuality, they tend to treat their influences as stepping stones instead of a basis for imitation. Unlike the band format, solo artists do not have to be held down by the vague intentions that derive from other members’ influences. The great bands blend their differences into one cohesive sound, but this is unfortunately in the rarest of cases. It is likelier that a band is torn apart by irrevocably subjective matters, like a preferred stylistic direction or the frequency of certain influences that may pertain to only one or two members. For a band to achieve greatness, the collaborative atmosphere must be open to new ideas and embracing toward each member’s taste. Otherwise, the quality will suffer due to indecision and the collaborative quality will be noticeably deficient. And then there are those artists that have ideas and influences so unconventional that finding a group of like-minded collaborators seems impossible. Consequently, they begin to pursue the music occupation on their own, with their high level of creativity and innovation actually serving as a detriment to their ability to successfully collaborate with other musicians.

This is a very common scenario that often decides whether a band without one driving force can be successful. Without one songwriter in complete control, it is a necessity to have members that are either similar in taste or intelligently receptive toward other ideas. The only way to avoid this is to ease oneself into a working environment with different members, gradually introducing new ideas as each member unknowingly acquires a new taste palette that allows them to work cohesively with the other members. Such is the case with Mariage Blanc, a six-piece from Pittsburgh whose ingenious collaborative tendencies are shown tremendously on their first release, Broken Record. They have been working on this seven-song EP since their formation last fall, and the result is nothing short of an extraordinary burst of creative energy within the generally recurring field of indie-rock. The group possesses two primary songwriters in Matt Ceraso and Josh Kretzmer, instantly demanding cohesive collaboration because of the split dynamic. Broken Record shows that they are both incredibly gifted songwriters with independent and collaborative ideas that serve as a representation of their gradual working relationship that is now complete and comfortable after some clever maneuvering.

Oddly enough, Mariage Blanc actually started out as a way to promote the separate solo projects of Ceraso and Kretzmer. Due to the difficulties of finding other members and slight artistic differences, the two Pitt graduates decided to release a split EP instead of forming a band together. The two had graduated from the same college, but had not began working together until after school through some mutual friends. The creative process surrounding this split EP was the fire that ignited the true form of Mariage Blanc, as Ceraso and Kretzmer grew more comfortable with one another’s taste, stylistic direction, and musicianship as the studio hours filled up. What was initially a way to split an EP together eventually became a full band with even fuller aspirations. Once the duo began learning how to truly work together, finding other members seemed easy. The others joined shortly thereafter, perhaps showing that it is a lot easier to find collaborators once one has already successfully collaborated with another that possesses ideas that are initially in slight contrast to one’s own. Mariage Blanc was put into motion from this point, and with the release of Broken Record they look to expand beyond the borders of Pittsburgh and into a national audience that should be very receptive toward their masterfully crafted indie-rock.

Mariage Blanc’s Broken Record shows a group that is simultaneously content with ‘60s pop and modernistic production. Wurlitzers, brass, synths, and strings complement the conventional indie-rock arsenal of guitars and rhythm to stir up a wonderful array of melodically rich songs, never lacking in hooks or fresh ideas. The overlapping vocal harmonies and big-time psychedelic choruses suggest a retro feel, but polished production and songcraft allow both the charm of nostalgia and preciseness of technology to exist within the same realm. “Marquee” starts off quite naturally with a rollicking guitar solo, tidied up into a simple progression once Ceraso’s serene vocals reflect a bouncy synth melody. The song often jumps between boisterous guitars and the quaint twinkling of keys and synths, the latter being best used around 02:03 when tremolos of strings signal an alteration in melody and stylistic direction (indie-rock exuberance to chamber-pop elegance). “Sunken Ship” is another excellent effort that features mariachi horns, strings, and guitars to a stunning effect, resulting in one of the most sweeping engagements on Broken Record. The EP’s opener, “Contrary to Popular Belief”, is mellower with its acoustic guitars, xylophone-like keys, and use of woodwinds, but it still packs the same emotional punch as “Marquee”. The vocals here whisper enticingly, creating an inviting atmosphere that succeeds because it attempts stylistic marvel without detracting from the substance. The cheery bursts of keys at the end are an excellent touch as well, wrapping up a gorgeous song that begins an excellent EP in Broken Record. -


Broken Record - EP - 2008 (self-released)
Mariage Blanc - LP - 2010 (self-released)



Mariage Blanc is a five-piece, indie-pop band based in Pittsburgh, PA. Their self-released debut EP, Broken Record (2008), received overwhelmingly positive reviews:

"a wonderful array of melodically rich songs, never lacking in hooks or fresh ideas." - Mike Mineo, Obscure Sound

“That music-supervisor-friendliness, as well as the kind of lush orchestration and arrangement suited to the era of Arcade Fires, Polyphonic Sprees and Broken Social Scenes, make Broken Record a very promising debut.” - Aaron Jentzen, Pittsburgh City Paper

"an amazing debut" - Jeremy Aaron,

Work on the follow-up to Broken Record began in the spring of 2009, when Mariage Blanc spent three months transforming a gutted warehouse into a functional rehearsal and recording studio. Over the summer and fall, the band held highly collaborative writing sessions which yielded the material for their debut LP.

Recording began in late January 2010, and the initial sessions were plagued by equipment failures, snowstorms, and even disintegrating master tapes. Six months later the band found themselves with a completed album and a realized sound: self-assured, melodic, and harmonically rich. Mariage Blanc will be released on November 16th, 2010.

Mariage Blanc is touring the U.S. in late 2010. Look for further tour dates in early 2011.