Mark Bragg
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Mark Bragg

Corner Brook, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | SELF | AFM

Corner Brook, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2000
Band Rock Cabaret

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"Toro Magazine Interview"

St. John’s, Newfoundland musician Mark Bragg does not record very often. His last album Bear Music came out way back in 2005; his latest Your Kiss plays catchup at a ferocious pace, with ideas and melodies whirling by and fighting for space in your memory. It takes a few spins to really parse out, but the intoxicating effect is totally worthwhile.

??The furious pace of the album belies Bragg’s real personality, which is patient and well-spoken. Through years of producing and performing in his hometown he has built up a strong reputation and roster of session players, all of which helped make Your Kiss the instant East Coast rock classic it is. We recently met with Bragg to find out how, after all these years, it finally came to life.

When did work on Your Kiss get underway?

My last record came out six years ago. The material for this record started coming together in 2006; it took five years to write and three days to record.

Must have been a hectic three days.

Pretty busy, yeah. We recorded in October of last year and have taken the months (since then) to get organized.

So does music not take precedence in your life?

Music consumes my professional life. The "Mark Bragg" thing, being a bandleader and performer and a songwriter represents the lion's share of my career, but my time is put into other people's projects. I'm a session musician and a producer. Recording (my own material) is the biggest part of it right now but I do wear a lot of hats.

How would you describe your role as a producer?

I'll do whatever it takes to go from "no album" to "great album." Filling in the blanks. In areas I am weak or the band is weak, we will coax out strength.

It must be an interesting experience to be the strongest guy in the room.

Somebody's gotta make the decisions. People performing on a record are too attached to be unbiased.

Do you see a lot of musicians in love with bad ideas?

Possibly. I've been told by producers myself about bad ideas I'm attached to. It's a tough thing to do. But it's fun, a nice bit of work.

It's interesting that Your Kiss encompasses five or so years of work but it's still quite short, about a half-hour long. How do you go from years of writing to 30 minutes of material?

I was shocked when the masters came back and it clocked in under 30 minutes. I had no idea I was making a short record. I thought: "I have nine songs. That's a full record." Through the years I guess I've learned how to edit myself, to be more cutthroat when it comes to my own work.

At no point on the album does it sound like you're wasting time, or in other words, screwing around.

Well, that's editing. Some reviewers have been critical of the length.

Who has the nerve to criticize brevity?

I don't know! [laughs] They wanted more bang for their buck, I guess. But the album gets to the point. There's no waffling.





Do the songs retain their quick punch live?

We might take a little more leeway. If the audience is really enjoying it I might take a few more bars. Nothin' wrong with that.

Your music is removed from geography; I couldn't tell by listening to it that you're a Newfoundlander.

No, no. There isn't ... there is and there isn't something regional about it.

Maybe the temperament of the thing, like even the darker songs have upbeat energy.

Yeah. I'm most comfortable with dark themes, like black comedy. When it comes to playing live all I've ever known is the party, the East Coast party. When I perform with a band in St. John's there's always a dance floor. This is music that people dance to. And it's hilarious because I'm onto something ... I love seeing people dancing to dark songs.

Especially if people understand what you're singing about. It's like dancing becomes a defence mechanism.

Who knows. I wouldn't call it defence because (the music) isn't an assault. It's more like they're with ya. Darkness is a big part of who we are so it's all about embracing it. Often when I write I'm sympathetic to (characters) who are doin' wrong. I'm not making a statement that what's happening is right, but it's real.

Are you worried about people reading too much into your lyrics, thinking everything you talk about happened as you describe it? Particularly for a song like "Your Boys Home," which is clearly about child abuse.

I'm not too worried about that. I've got works in the pipe that go even further down that sinister road. I'm starting to push myself in that way. I think people are always with you if they get it. It's funny: when a screenwriter or a novelist writes about this kind of stuff nobody really questions if it's fictionalized, but because music is such a personal thing most people will assume things happened as you wrote it. Every writer (indulges fact) so that doesn't mean I'm a sicko! [laughs]

Do you feel like a storyteller onstage?

That's where it's fun. I really enjoy performing and delivering narrative as if - Jesse Skinner


"Toro Magazine Interview"

St. John’s, Newfoundland musician Mark Bragg does not record very often. His last album Bear Music came out way back in 2005; his latest Your Kiss plays catchup at a ferocious pace, with ideas and melodies whirling by and fighting for space in your memory. It takes a few spins to really parse out, but the intoxicating effect is totally worthwhile.

??The furious pace of the album belies Bragg’s real personality, which is patient and well-spoken. Through years of producing and performing in his hometown he has built up a strong reputation and roster of session players, all of which helped make Your Kiss the instant East Coast rock classic it is. We recently met with Bragg to find out how, after all these years, it finally came to life.

When did work on Your Kiss get underway?

My last record came out six years ago. The material for this record started coming together in 2006; it took five years to write and three days to record.

Must have been a hectic three days.

Pretty busy, yeah. We recorded in October of last year and have taken the months (since then) to get organized.

So does music not take precedence in your life?

Music consumes my professional life. The "Mark Bragg" thing, being a bandleader and performer and a songwriter represents the lion's share of my career, but my time is put into other people's projects. I'm a session musician and a producer. Recording (my own material) is the biggest part of it right now but I do wear a lot of hats.

How would you describe your role as a producer?

I'll do whatever it takes to go from "no album" to "great album." Filling in the blanks. In areas I am weak or the band is weak, we will coax out strength.

It must be an interesting experience to be the strongest guy in the room.

Somebody's gotta make the decisions. People performing on a record are too attached to be unbiased.

Do you see a lot of musicians in love with bad ideas?

Possibly. I've been told by producers myself about bad ideas I'm attached to. It's a tough thing to do. But it's fun, a nice bit of work.

It's interesting that Your Kiss encompasses five or so years of work but it's still quite short, about a half-hour long. How do you go from years of writing to 30 minutes of material?

I was shocked when the masters came back and it clocked in under 30 minutes. I had no idea I was making a short record. I thought: "I have nine songs. That's a full record." Through the years I guess I've learned how to edit myself, to be more cutthroat when it comes to my own work.

At no point on the album does it sound like you're wasting time, or in other words, screwing around.

Well, that's editing. Some reviewers have been critical of the length.

Who has the nerve to criticize brevity?

I don't know! [laughs] They wanted more bang for their buck, I guess. But the album gets to the point. There's no waffling.





Do the songs retain their quick punch live?

We might take a little more leeway. If the audience is really enjoying it I might take a few more bars. Nothin' wrong with that.

Your music is removed from geography; I couldn't tell by listening to it that you're a Newfoundlander.

No, no. There isn't ... there is and there isn't something regional about it.

Maybe the temperament of the thing, like even the darker songs have upbeat energy.

Yeah. I'm most comfortable with dark themes, like black comedy. When it comes to playing live all I've ever known is the party, the East Coast party. When I perform with a band in St. John's there's always a dance floor. This is music that people dance to. And it's hilarious because I'm onto something ... I love seeing people dancing to dark songs.

Especially if people understand what you're singing about. It's like dancing becomes a defence mechanism.

Who knows. I wouldn't call it defence because (the music) isn't an assault. It's more like they're with ya. Darkness is a big part of who we are so it's all about embracing it. Often when I write I'm sympathetic to (characters) who are doin' wrong. I'm not making a statement that what's happening is right, but it's real.

Are you worried about people reading too much into your lyrics, thinking everything you talk about happened as you describe it? Particularly for a song like "Your Boys Home," which is clearly about child abuse.

I'm not too worried about that. I've got works in the pipe that go even further down that sinister road. I'm starting to push myself in that way. I think people are always with you if they get it. It's funny: when a screenwriter or a novelist writes about this kind of stuff nobody really questions if it's fictionalized, but because music is such a personal thing most people will assume things happened as you wrote it. Every writer (indulges fact) so that doesn't mean I'm a sicko! [laughs]

Do you feel like a storyteller onstage?

That's where it's fun. I really enjoy performing and delivering narrative as if - Jesse Skinner


"Mark Bragg | Your Kiss"

Sweaty, jazzy rock 'n' roll, from the unforgiving streets of St. John's. You've been warned.

Musical miscreant Mark Bragg sets out to make smooth jazz as bawdy, absurd, and rocking as he can on his new album. Your Kiss is the third release by the St. John’s musician, an LP that is so superficially wacky that it packs a wallop of a punch once you are made aware of the subtle sincerity behind each tongue-in-cheek lyric or jarringly dissonant note.

Bragg wastes no time setting up his own beautiful dark twisted fantasy. The disc opens with the titular track, “Your Kiss,” where he dramatically announces, over an organ intro, that he’d skip out on bowling night and “swallow the Bazooka Joe” to lock lips with his object of desire – but watch out, because this ain’t no innocent ditty for serenading. There’s something dark and sexual going on just below the surface, and those minor chords and Doors-like organ tricks don’t exactly change that opinion.

By the time you move on to the next tune, “Your Boys Home,” you’re enthralled, sceptical, and more than a little bit scared as hell. The song, all about latent childhood abuse that’s mounted into a purely insane reunion between a mother and her son, is deliciously disturbing.

Your Kiss is a jazzy blues album that’s been taken under the apprenticeship of rock ’n’ roll. There are swinging horns and piano solos, but there’s also an unrefined energy permeating throughout the songs. Bragg projects himself almost maniacally as an over-the-top entertainer – which can be overwhelming at more than one instance – but he also shows that he’s capable of holding back when he needs to. Point in case is “The Cutter,” one of the most straightforward, stylish rock songs on the album (even if he refuses to be completely conventional in his lyrics: “I’m a fat kid, and you’re so edible now”). That song leads right into the album’s middle track, “The Fool,” which is a subdued, emotional slow dance – and by this point, it’s just as surprising as anything else on Your Kiss.

The album closes with the funky, soulful “Rats,” a song where Bragg professes, “I wanna hear your little bits snap and your big bits crunch / Gonna have you for supper, then have your wife for dessert / You know I want it to hurt, cause I’m a pervert.” Huh? By this point, you’re not fully sure what just happened during the last half hour, and can’t decide if the rocker is delusional or simply making fun of you. It’s a music maelstrom that doesn’t try to be coy in its style or lyrics, an honesty that doesn’t seem to jive with the quirky arrangements or exaggerated vocal presentation.

It’s fist-pumping, dance-all-night beats that somehow manage to blend sophistication, exaltation, and the desire to take a long, hot shower immediately afterwards. - The Independant


"Mark Bragg - Your Kiss"

Alluring and demented, Mark Bragg and a crackerjack band of fellow Newfoundlanders in St. John's storm through haunting, off-kilter songs on the delightfully disturbing Your Kiss. An odd duck live, Bragg is perfectly at home unsettling a roomful of people with his blunt humour, but even if he's joking about teaching an infant how to be his designated driver, he does so like a master storyteller, with charm and graceful timing. Those same skills are all over Your Kiss, which borrows liberally from a songwriting tradition spanning everyone from Captain Beefheart to Gordon Gano, in that weird punk/folk realm where dark reality jibes with razor-sharp absurdity. The threat is on instantly, as Bragg sings the opening title track's menacing lyrics, before launching into the murderous "Your Boys Home." While Nick Cave and Black Francis haunt fantastical songs like "Roll Baby Roll" and "You Be the Boy," which mannishly mess with gender dynamics, Bragg's real muse is Bruce Springsteen. An acknowledged fan, Bragg pays homage to the Boss's mid-'70s style with the structure and emotion of things like "The Cutter" and "The Fool," but, rather than romantic, the characters throughout Your Kiss generally sound completely nuts.

Were you sent here by the devil?
Uh, clearly I was sent here by the devil himself, yes. I know where you're coming from, but the boring answer is, I feel like a fiction writer, akin to Stephen King or any horror movie-making types. It's funny because people treat songs as being more personal to the people presenting them than they would an author or filmmaker. I don't feel a strong personal attachment to dark songs; they just get me excited.

And is it a persona?
Maybe. Years ago, I wrote songs about my feelings and they really sucked. I started writing fiction and was much happier as a result. There are elements of truth in there, as in anything, but they're quite heavily disguised, and I'm inclined to keep it that way.

The record's sound is quite eclectic.
I differentiate sounds from song structures. As a craftsperson, I'm heavily influenced by Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, and I've stolen from these guys often. But the sound is something else altogether; I just assemble the guys I want to play with and they have carte blanche to do anything. I didn't even play a single note on this record; I trusted them completely. - Exclaim


"Mark Bragg - Your Kiss"

Alluring and demented, Mark Bragg and a crackerjack band of fellow Newfoundlanders in St. John's storm through haunting, off-kilter songs on the delightfully disturbing Your Kiss. An odd duck live, Bragg is perfectly at home unsettling a roomful of people with his blunt humour, but even if he's joking about teaching an infant how to be his designated driver, he does so like a master storyteller, with charm and graceful timing. Those same skills are all over Your Kiss, which borrows liberally from a songwriting tradition spanning everyone from Captain Beefheart to Gordon Gano, in that weird punk/folk realm where dark reality jibes with razor-sharp absurdity. The threat is on instantly, as Bragg sings the opening title track's menacing lyrics, before launching into the murderous "Your Boys Home." While Nick Cave and Black Francis haunt fantastical songs like "Roll Baby Roll" and "You Be the Boy," which mannishly mess with gender dynamics, Bragg's real muse is Bruce Springsteen. An acknowledged fan, Bragg pays homage to the Boss's mid-'70s style with the structure and emotion of things like "The Cutter" and "The Fool," but, rather than romantic, the characters throughout Your Kiss generally sound completely nuts.

Were you sent here by the devil?
Uh, clearly I was sent here by the devil himself, yes. I know where you're coming from, but the boring answer is, I feel like a fiction writer, akin to Stephen King or any horror movie-making types. It's funny because people treat songs as being more personal to the people presenting them than they would an author or filmmaker. I don't feel a strong personal attachment to dark songs; they just get me excited.

And is it a persona?
Maybe. Years ago, I wrote songs about my feelings and they really sucked. I started writing fiction and was much happier as a result. There are elements of truth in there, as in anything, but they're quite heavily disguised, and I'm inclined to keep it that way.

The record's sound is quite eclectic.
I differentiate sounds from song structures. As a craftsperson, I'm heavily influenced by Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, and I've stolen from these guys often. But the sound is something else altogether; I just assemble the guys I want to play with and they have carte blanche to do anything. I didn't even play a single note on this record; I trusted them completely. - Exclaim


"Allschools Network"

Mark Bragg ist soweit ich das überblicken kann kein Verwandter von Billy Bragg, aber die dreiköpfige Band führt ein ähnliches Handwerk aus. „The Perfect Soundtrack In A Forest To Scare The Shit Out Of You“ schreibt der Infotext, und obwohl ich keine Angst hatte während des Hören, werde ich diese Platte auf meinem nächsten Waldspazierganz mitnehmen. Es gibt 15 Songs die immer irgendwo im Songwritertum ihre Wurzeln haben, und die ganze Bandbreite dieses Genres ausfüllen. Mal ein wenig Western angehaucht, mal extrem songorientiert und ein andermal fast schon an Chamberpop angrenzend. Aber egal wie: Immer auf den Punkt, absolut genießbar und immer mit Tiefgang und musikalischer Reife durchzogen. Textlich ist hier alles sehr persönlich gehalten, und es tuen sich so einige Seelenabgründe in den Lyrics auf. So wie man das eben erwartet. Wer also die Schnauze hat von Weichspüler Singer/Songwriter Schrott, aber wer auch vor Schwerkalibern wie Low oder The Black Heart Procession nicht zurückschreckt, der sei eingeladen hier ein Ohr zu riskieren, denn enttäuscht wird er nicht. - None


"CyberMusik.de"

Einige Glückliche erinnern sich noch an den letztjährigen Popkomm-Auftritt von Mark Bragg und haben seitdem nachgefragt, wann der Kanadier hier zu Lande endlich mit einem Album aufwartet. Bitteschön, hier ist es! Das sagen wir auch denjenigen unter Euch, die Mark Bragg jetzt erstmals für sich entdecken.

Mark Bragg ist ein Musiker, der Eure gesamte Aufmerksamkeit verdient. Er kreiert auf "Bear Music" eine ganz eigene musikalische und lyrische Welt. Tom Waits, Neil Young oder die Violent Femmes mögen gelegentlich im Hinterkopf auftauchen, wenn man Mark Braggs kleinen Epen lauscht, doch bleibt der Vollblut-Musiker immer er selbst.

Mit Herzblut, Humor und einem faszinierenden Gespür für außergewöhnliches Storytelling, das Musik und Texte auf ganz wunderbare Art und Weise verbindet, präsentiert er Geschichten, die berühren, erschrecken, begeistern und schlichtweg grandios unterhalten.

Wie fasste es ein us-amerikanischer Kritiker so schön zusammen? "A perfect soundtrack for walking through the woods alone (if you want to scare the hell out of yourself)!" - None


"Wenn Bären um die Ecke kommen..."

Bewertung: 14 von 15 (dose)

Wenn Bären um die Ecke kommen...

Mark Bragg ist nicht verwand mit Billy Bragg, hat aber trotzdem musikalisch nicht wenig mit Billy Bragg zu tun. Mark Bragg ist Singer/Songwriter aus Kanada und zwar einer, der sich nicht von Genre-Grenzen einsschränken lässt. Sein zweites Album "Bear Music", das fast ein Jahr nach dem offiziellen release in seiner Heimat endlich auch in Deutschland erscheint, ist damit schwer zu kategorisieren. In seiner Heimat wird er als kanadische Antwort auf Tom Waits gehandelt, was aber etwas hoch gegriffen ist und vor allem der Musik nicht ganz gerecht wird, weil Tom Waits doch deutlich düsterer und vor allem durchgedrehter zu Werke geht.

"Bear Songs" ist eins der besten Singer/Songwriter-Alben, die bisher durch meine Ohren rauschten, einfach weil Mark Bragg sich nicht darauf beschränkt, einen Stil mehrere Songs durchzuziehen. So viel Abwechslung irgendwo zwischen Billy Bragg, Tom Waits, den Violent Femmes oder Neil Young mit ganz viel eigenem Herzblut, eigenen Ideen und vielen Experimenten und trotzdem einem einzigartigen roten Faden habe ich selten gehört. Folk-Elemente treffen auf Alternative-Rock Gitarren und so schwankt die Band irgendwo zwischen Mut, Lebensfrohen Passagen und trauriger Melancholie. Und wer bisher glaubte, dass Ragga im Stil von Gentleman doch gar nichts mit Rock zu tun haben kann, der wird hier beim Song "My Buick" eines besseren belehrt. Natürlich hat hier Gentleman nicht seine Finger im Spiel, trotzdem ist dieser Ragga-Beat für einen Singer/Songwriter doch ziemlich einzigartig und gibt dem ganzen Album einen gewissen sommerlichen Flair.

Textlich geht es durch die Bank recht persönlich zu und dabei tzun sich einige Abgründe auf, die aber immer wieder humorvoll und satirisch lebendig gehalten werden. Es wird nicht nur gejammert und Trübsaal geblasen, zu schöne Momente bietet das Leben. Mark Bragg schafft es mit "Bear Songs" einfach guzt zu unterhalten und man möchte die dreiköpfige Band gerner mal einladen, im eigenen Wohnzimmer zu spielen. Wahrscheinlich wachsen dabei plötzlich Wälder im Raum und Bären kommen um die Ecke, um der Musik zu lauschen. Einzigartig...
Ähnliche Band: Violent Femmes
Weitere vergleichbare Bands: Billy Bragg, Tom Waits, Neil Young - Dosen Musik


"A Dark Seed Planted Deep"

It opens with a screeching shrill and courses headlong from headcase to headcase, grinding to an occasional halt for the next sideshow. Three years after the release of his debut The Reckless Kind, Mark Bragg is back with Bear Music. Think sequels are never as good? Go buy this album.

What is most impressive about Bragg is his comprehensive approach to music. Rendering music-making an art form, Bear Music is nothing short of brilliant. Crafting story-lines and backdrops, Bragg chronicles the desolation of a cast of characters. From Candy, a woman hardened by the pitfalls of life and love, to the Bear, a 300 lb autistic street fighter, Bragg empathizes with male and female characters alike, hinting at the sort of empathy sported only by old souls and split personalities.

Bragg has his finger on our erratic pulses. Palpitating rhythms careen from track to track, from plot line to plot line, showcasing the darkest of human tendencies - loneliness, shame, belittlement, paranoia. Though the narration jumps from first person to the third, each vignette is equally personal and emotive, revealing in each of us what we are capable of, what we fail to do and what we fail to avoid. It's unsettling, nerve-wrecking, but don't think for one minute Bragg is out of control. He is puppeteer, cueing a cast of musicians to match the cast of characters (Brent Randall - bass, Mark Neary - bass/backing vocals; Adam Warner, Benn Ross - drums; Patrick Boyle - flugelhorn/backing vocals; Jill Porter, Mike Davis - backing vocals; and Bragg - organs, guitars, and lead vocals.) Mixed and produced by Daryn Barry (Blue Rodeo, Cowboy Junkies), co-produced by Mark Neary, the final product is at once ray and polished, at once passionate and calculated. One sound is layered upon the next to stand against the complexity of storytelling. Even the vibrato in Bragg's voice is deliberate, even manipulative.

There's a timeless quality to not just the themes of love and loss, but to the very sound itself. The peppering of stories with sound effects likens the album to a radio play of sorts. Bragg's interspersed crooning "I got a real love now" in 'Plans for the Boys' is tinny, gramaphonic, and old-fashioned (an effect achieved by singing through a guitar amp and into a bullet mic). With shouts and shrieks, doors creaking and sirens approaching, were Poe alive, I'd bring him to a Mark Bragg show. That sour bastard would love it.

A spell is cast once you find the lyrics booklet tucked so cleverly inside the slim sleeve of the casing. Fittingly, its cover sports the bear's bones. Bragg peels back the skin to showcase the rawest tendencies of the human condition. One wonders if it's meant to allude to the bare bones of humanity. One wonders if the characters are just characters. One is left full of wonder. Sit back, put on Bear Music and read along. It's a story we all know. - Current Magazine


"Now Magazine"

Rating: NNNN

The gut-wrenching urgency of Bragg's nervous-twitch vocal delivery here is as affecting as it was on 03's superlative The Reckless Kind, and it's this Tom Waits-Elvis Costello style that holds together his latest offering. The trumpet and trombone have been replaced by eerie organ fills and flugelhorn flourishes, and Bear Music is certainly more of a straight-up rock record. Smaller in scope, maybe, but just as involving, with a nice blend of stuttering two-step stomps and strong ballads that showcase Bragg's innate ability to turn a witty phrase into a great story. - Brent Raynor


"Misc. Quotes from Germany"

www.allschools.de
"Always right on the dot, absolutely enjoyable and fulfilled with depth and musical maturity."
"If you are sick of softy songwriter garbage, you wont be disappointed here."

www.besonic.de
"Bear Music covers the entire range of our favourite music, without being disjointed, it rises and swells up and down as if one is sitting in the refreshing ocean surf."

www.cd-aktuell.de
"Quirky, sharp-tongued, thoughtful – Mark Bragg is a Singer/Songwriter with almost animalistic instinct for creative choice of words - don't miss MARK BRAGG !!!"

www.CRAZEWIRE.de
"Opening with a scream, it develops into a real stomper."

www.die-bluemchentapete.de
"The multitude of sounds are joined by a strongly expressive, melodic voice, which is rich with emotionality and provides a convincing naturalness."
"An album with ample variety, presenting outstanding song-writing."
"It grabs you with its charm, and makes it difficult not to press the repeat button after more than 60 minutes."

www.dosenmusik.net
"Bear Songs is one of the best Singer/Songwriter albums that roared through my ears up till now."
"Outstanding."
"Mark Bragg is a Singer/Songwriter who does not let himself be limited by the boarders of genres."

www.Familie-im-Web.de
"Mark Bragg is a musician who deserves your full attention."
"He presents stories which touch, frighten, excite and grandiosely entertain, with heart-blood, humour and a fascinating sense of unusual storytelling."
"Mark Bragg creates on ‘Bear Music’ an entirely unique musical and lyrical world."

www.flamingyouth.de
"Mark Bragg’s ‘Bear Music’ should be a sound track, only question is who could make the movie that pays justice to his songs?"
"The Canadian produced one road-movie after the other, with his colourful mixture of rocky, magnetizing, partially crooked, but always fully entertaining American Storytelling pop."
"Always interesting and often danceable."

www.home-of-rock.de
"When you hear Mark Bragg’s new album ‚Bear Music’, it is not surprising that he won many new fans during his PopKomm performance in Berlin."
"He proves to have theatrical feeling as well as thoughtful seriousness."

www.musik.terrorverlag.de
"The Canadian answer to Tom Waits is a musical multi talent."
"The true qualities of ‘Bear Music’ don’t necessarily appear during a quick run through, but the song-pearls open up if you take a bit of time."

www.MUSIX.de
"Mark Bragg presents dark songwriter music of the very special kind. - This is real fun."

www.rocktimes.de
"Mark Bragg’s sound pieces go beyond all listening habits, while at the same time work seamlessly with the themes of the lyrics."
"Unique, personal, thoughtful with some twisted songs – making the music really good, that is Mark Bragg."
"It is not enough to just be entertained by Mark Bragg, - that would not do him justice."

www.roteraupe.de
"The songs develop with great passion and feeling."
"His songs appear earthy, grounded and despite of the pressure they radiate tremendous humour. – he leaves his critics far behind."

www.tinnitus-mag.de
"The album convinces through the transported vibe, - a magnetizingly intense voice with the suitable musical surroundings."

www.triggerfish.de
"Bear Music is a well rounded singer-songwriter-album with piercing and innovative guitar based music and Excellent lyrics."
- (Translated to English)


"A Dark Seed Planted Deep"

It opens with a screeching shrill and courses headlong from headcase to headcase, grinding to an occasional halt for the next sideshow. Three years after the release of his debut The Reckless Kind, Mark Bragg is back with Bear Music. Think sequels are never as good? Go buy this album.

What is most impressive about Bragg is his comprehensive approach to music. Rendering music-making an art form, Bear Music is nothing short of brilliant. Crafting story-lines and backdrops, Bragg chronicles the desolation of a cast of characters. From Candy, a woman hardened by the pitfalls of life and love, to the Bear, a 300 lb autistic street fighter, Bragg empathizes with male and female characters alike, hinting at the sort of empathy sported only by old souls and split personalities.

Bragg has his finger on our erratic pulses. Palpitating rhythms careen from track to track, from plot line to plot line, showcasing the darkest of human tendencies - loneliness, shame, belittlement, paranoia. Though the narration jumps from first person to the third, each vignette is equally personal and emotive, revealing in each of us what we are capable of, what we fail to do and what we fail to avoid. It's unsettling, nerve-wrecking, but don't think for one minute Bragg is out of control. He is puppeteer, cueing a cast of musicians to match the cast of characters (Brent Randall - bass, Mark Neary - bass/backing vocals; Adam Warner, Benn Ross - drums; Patrick Boyle - flugelhorn/backing vocals; Jill Porter, Mike Davis - backing vocals; and Bragg - organs, guitars, and lead vocals.) Mixed and produced by Daryn Barry (Blue Rodeo, Cowboy Junkies), co-produced by Mark Neary, the final product is at once ray and polished, at once passionate and calculated. One sound is layered upon the next to stand against the complexity of storytelling. Even the vibrato in Bragg's voice is deliberate, even manipulative.

There's a timeless quality to not just the themes of love and loss, but to the very sound itself. The peppering of stories with sound effects likens the album to a radio play of sorts. Bragg's interspersed crooning "I got a real love now" in 'Plans for the Boys' is tinny, gramaphonic, and old-fashioned (an effect achieved by singing through a guitar amp and into a bullet mic). With shouts and shrieks, doors creaking and sirens approaching, were Poe alive, I'd bring him to a Mark Bragg show. That sour bastard would love it.

A spell is cast once you find the lyrics booklet tucked so cleverly inside the slim sleeve of the casing. Fittingly, its cover sports the bear's bones. Bragg peels back the skin to showcase the rawest tendencies of the human condition. One wonders if it's meant to allude to the bare bones of humanity. One wonders if the characters are just characters. One is left full of wonder. Sit back, put on Bear Music and read along. It's a story we all know. - Current Magazine


"Mark Bragg's Character Sketches"

Newfoundland troubadour Mark Bragg says the characters he creates in his songs are imaginary, but the sentiments are not.

Often as not, his own feelings and experiences crop up.

"When you feel a little down, a good way to turn that around is to create a character out of that feeling," Bragg says. "It's like saying, 'I might be feeling bad, but here's a person who's really feeling bad' and with music you give him some kind of hope."

The songs on his new album, Bear Music, focus on people. Song for Marvin is about a down-on-his-luck guy who waits in a "beautiful state of decay" for his lost love to phone. It's the ballad of a lonely sap.

"I don't write a lot of woeful heartbreak songs," Bragg laughs, "but that was one I had to write."

The nostalgic melody is familiar, which makes it easier to align yourself with poor ol' Marvin. (Bragg is sure he unwittingly stole it from somewhere, but his research didn't turn up a source).

Uncle Milo is about an old man who's slowly dying and losing his functions, but not his sense of right and wrong. "I wanted to write something that was sympathetic toward an older guy, but give the audience insight into a strength that you didn't know he had." says Bragg, 29.

Contrast those sober tales with Which Doctor, the beat of which slowly increases for an exhilarating 2 1/2 minutes, and you get an idea of the range of Mark Bragg. His debut album, Reckless Kind, released with his backing troupe The Black Wedding Band, was a prized gem of many Canadian music fans, who found its dark, imaginative tales seductive. - Fateema Sayani - Ottawa Citizen


"Uptown Magazine"

It’s hard to listen to Mark Bragg’s Bear Music without recalling vintage Violent Femmes. While more electric than the Femmes, Bragg works with that same kind of appealingly odd minimalism, to say nothing of his Gordon Gano-like vocals and lyrics. That’s not a bad thing, by any means. Bragg’s press release characterizes this project as a trip “to the circus of life with a ringside seat to a cast of carnival characters,” and there are moments when I think he must have read the great American novelist Flannery O’Connor and noted that she views the grotesque and unconventional as ciphers for the truth and grace of our own lives. Again, not a bad thing at all, but it does mean this album requires careful listening. As background filler, Bragg will never make it into the elevators. And that is really, really not a bad thing.
- Jamie Howison


"Uptown Magazine"

It’s hard to listen to Mark Bragg’s Bear Music without recalling vintage Violent Femmes. While more electric than the Femmes, Bragg works with that same kind of appealingly odd minimalism, to say nothing of his Gordon Gano-like vocals and lyrics. That’s not a bad thing, by any means. Bragg’s press release characterizes this project as a trip “to the circus of life with a ringside seat to a cast of carnival characters,” and there are moments when I think he must have read the great American novelist Flannery O’Connor and noted that she views the grotesque and unconventional as ciphers for the truth and grace of our own lives. Again, not a bad thing at all, but it does mean this album requires careful listening. As background filler, Bragg will never make it into the elevators. And that is really, really not a bad thing.
- Jamie Howison


Discography

Your Kiss (2011)
Down to the Dirt Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2009)
The Reckless Kind (2002)
Bear Music (2005)

Photos

Bio

I'm a performing songwriter from St. John's, Newfoundland, currently living in Corner Brook. I write mostly dark narrative fiction songs, and for twenty years or so I have been working with excellent musicians who back me up on super high energy shows in small bars, making me sound really good while having a ton of fun. I am super grateful to these players.

This past March, I released a laid back, "listening" type album on both CD and Vinyl, called "Winter". I had a bunch of low key jams kicking around for a while, and I finally decided to give them a home.

So this is what Tim Baker from Hey Rosetta said about "Winter":

"There’s a renewed calmness, a clarity, the words measured to be heard and felt. It feels crafted carefully, yet still so free. Indeed the whole thing is a study in contrasts - it manages to be delicate yet gruff, sad yet playful, humble yet grand, all at the same time... it's unmistakably Mark Bragg: squinting sideways at the heartbreak and violence of life, somehow with a grimace and a grin and a tear in his eye all at once... growing stronger in the dark. A bear come through “Winter” say, hungry for spring."

Thank you Tim the endorsement. It's impossible to toot your own horn.

Currently I am working on my piano chops, booking small concert venues, and walking my dog.