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"Marizane Rubbing Important Elbows"

Marizane rubbing important elbows
By Kevin Bronson, Times staff writer|

Their unreleased album has been collecting dust for 10 years, but Todd Jaeger and Debbie Shair -- the duo behind the pop act Marizane -- will be keeping company with Brian Wilson, David Bowie, the Byrds, the Smiths, the Ramones and X come March.

That's when "Mayor of the Sunset Strip," a documentary chronicling the life of KROQ deejay and rock scenester Rodney Bingenheimer, will open. Marizane performs the movie's title track, which will appear on the 17-song soundtrack alongside numbers by those rock luminaries. The album will be released March 18 on the Shout! Factory label.

The lyrics to "The Mayor of the Sunset Strip" were penned by the movie's co-producer (and Dramarama co-founder) Chris Carter, who "originally had Joey Ramone in mind for the job, before he died," Jaeger says.

The tune represents another small step toward putting Marizane on the map. The band recorded an album, "Hypercube Sideshow," with producer Tony Visconti (Bowie, T. Rex, Sparks) in the early 1990s, but, Jaeger says, "it has just kind of sat there on the shelf."

And so, for five years, did the band, while keyboardist Shair tried to overcome thoracic outlet syndrome, a debilitating condition that affects the upper extremities. "I blew my arm out by doing way too much computer work -- I couldn't even eat with a fork," she says. "I thought I would never play keyboards again

With Shair rehabbed to the point that she can play the piano standing up, Marizane is working on "Cosmosis," an album they hope to have completed in May. A five-song EP of the band's glammy pop, "Stage One," was released in August; it included three of the songs produced by Visconti.

"It's been such a long process," Shair says. "It's very exciting." - Los Angeles Times

"Marizane - Stage One"

by Patrick Shabe - PopMatters Associate Music Editor:

I'm just going to go ahead and say from the start that I love this EP, absolutely adore it, so you'll have to forgive me if there's a lot of effusive praise in this review. I just can't help it.

I've never been a huge fan of glam rock from the 1970s, but like many a listener and critic before me, I've always maintained a soft spot in my heart for David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust days. And let's face it, Bowie made glam's excess great. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane are just great -- great music and great fun. Still, all the bombast of the larger glam scene made glitter rock and roll a bit ridiculous, and aside from a bit of New York Dolls and the odd Queen song (come on, who doesn't smile at the Flash Gordon soundtrack in all its cheesy regalia?), I've never gone ga-ga for glam.

So why am I so enamored of Marizane? Perhaps it's a hint of nostalgia. Despite acts like the Stone Temple Pilots and (bizarrely) the Cheery Poppin' Daddies making Hollywood glam discs, people just don't make music like this anymore. Or maybe it's the giant, anthemic guitars and good time, future-rock keyboards, an enthusiastic burst of feel-good rock in an era of otherwise maudlin blahs. Well, all that, yes, but there's also that Bowie thing.

Despite this being the first official release by Marizane, you have to go back to 1992 to get the full story. Debbie Shair (keyboards) and Todd Jaeger (vocals, bass, guitars, theremin) met in Los Angeles, discovering a mutual love for classic rock and pop songcraft. Forming Marizane, the pair struck gold when they gained the attention of Tony Visconti, famed produced of albums by T. Rex, Badfinger, and, you got it Bowie (albeit pre- and post-Ziggy). Working with Visconti, the pair moved to New York and assembled a collection of tracks, moved back to L.A. in 1996, added guitarist/drummer Jeff Kluesner, and prepared to release Marizane's debut album, Hypercube Sideshow (which included guest musicians Visconti and Darian Sahanaja and Probyn Gregory of the Wondermints). Unfortunately, the release was canned when Shair sustained an injury that prevented her from playing keys, and those songs only saw the light of day when Marizane released a limited-run of Songs from the Hypercube Sideshow in 2001.

Skip ahead a couple of years, and Marizane is back and ready to make a proper debut. Following the recording of a song for the Mayor of the Sunset Strip soundtrack, Marizane has culled three Visconti-produced tracks from the Hypercube Sideshow sessions, along with two more recent tracks to flesh out this release. And Stage One is as exciting an initial foray as the title implies. With a cover depicting the rocket ship from TV's Thunderbirds, Marizane truly blasts off into space, leaving the listener wanting more.

Things kick off with "Of the Alien Christ" and immediately the classic Bowie comparisons are evident. While vocalist Todd Jaeger doesn't quite match Bowie's rebel rebel brattiness, he dips and soars as well as the Thin White Duke, and the lyrical patterns are certainly styled after Bowie's. Musically, the song is anthemic stadium rock, with strummed verses bursting into great guitar licks, orchestration, and spacey theremin, creating a simple but imminently catchy melody, while the song itself is a tale of Marizane's own mythology, similar to that of Ziggy himself. It's a bold opening move, and it might have been too presumptuous had the rest of the album not followed through. Fortunately, Stage One rocks you from start to finish.

"The Devil's Address" and "Preternatural Baby" make up the next two tracks, and are the last Visconti-produced material available here. Both continue to show a retro sensibility in their references to the past, the former being a piano-anchored that would make Mick Ronson of the Spiders proud and features such a rolling, lighter-waving rhythm that many lesser bands would be happy to end a disc with such a song, and the latter mixing T. Rex and "Young Americans" to delicious ends.

The final two tracks, "The Libertine" and "Sad Foolish Robot", show what Marizane can do when they strike out on their own. Admittedly, the lack of Visconti's deft studio hand is slightly noticeable, at least in that these tracks sound less directly derivative, but Marizane clearly learned from their time with the man. "The Libertine" is bombastic to the extreme and beautiful, with such an expansive low end that the whole jam of pianos, synths, dirty guitars, horns, and soaring harmonies is all contained in one perfect package (and, as so many others have noted, "The Libertine" is further proof that music needs more handclaps here, as they're the chorus's best hook). "Sad Foolish Robot" is a great closer, sounding here like a broader psych-pop band than specifically glam (I'm tempted to say the Dukes of Stratosphear could have performed this one). Huge and grandiose, the song really rocks, with extended guitar solos, pounding pianos, and hooks all over the place, including a soaring bridge, and dramatic finish.

Yup, I love this disc. Perhaps one of the key elements for me is that it completely eschews the current trend of muddy production for the sake of hipness. This is crisp, huge, clean music that truly shines, with attention to composition and clarity at every turn. Or maybe it's just that this retro-futuristic band is damned fun to listen to. I, for one, can't wait for stage two. -

"CD Review - Marizane "Cosmosis""

The Los Angeles band Marizane got their start in 1992 and has released several EPs previously but now they're back with their full-length debut, Cosmosis. This 12 track release is filled with music that can best be described as a mixture of whimsical, classical, experimental elements built upon a base of pop and rock music with a bit of a retro edge found on it.

Some of you might recognize band member Debbie Shair's name from her other music gig as keyboardist for the legendary Wilson sister band Heart. Nancy Wilson makes a guest appearance on the release. Other guest musicians found on this release including, Gilby Clarke, Craig Bartock and Wondermints.

The music is rich sounding with an unbelievable amount of instrumentation found on it. Besides the usual guitar, bass, and drums you'll find several different keyboard related instruments along with, harp, cello, violin, harpsichord, chimes, theremin, bells, clock, train whistle, and glockenspiel to name just a few of them.

The highlight tracks for me on Cosmosis where those that were less experimental sounding and more Indie rock twinge, songs like, "The Rock Song," and "Candlelight."

The music found on Cosmosis is very eclectic and going to appeal to a very specific listener. If you're a fan of storytelling artistic musical performers like, Queen or David Bowie then you should find Marizane's music very enjoyable. The release also comes with a full color, 15-page booklet that's filled with custom illustrations and liner notes that add to its story telling feel. - The CD Reviewer


EP - "Songs from the Hypercube Sideshow"
EP - "Stage One"
LP - "Cosmosis"



Marizane is Los Angeles-based retro-indie rock band that has been compared to classic acts such as the Beatles, Queen, and David Bowie as well as contemporaries such as Dr. Dog and Of Montreal. Interesting Facts: - Once produced by legendary rock producer Tony Visconti (Bowie, T-Rex, Moody Blues)
- Wrote/produced/performed title track to "Mayor of the Sunset Strip" (DJ Rodney Bingenheimer biopic). - First (new) release "Cosmosis" welcomes special musical guests such as Nancy Wilson (Heart), Gilby Clarke (Guns 'n Roses), Wondermints and members of the Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) band.