The Citizens
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The Citizens

Band Alternative Rock


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"Delusions Of Adequacy review"

This New York foursome snags a thread or two from nearly every rock vein that preceded them and weaves them together to form an amazing album. Three studios and five engineers later, Are We There Yet? is both annoyingly and smartly unclassifiable.

The album is divided into two parts, and the first half drives towards an avant-pop sound. "A Thing for You" is straightforward and catchy. Inspired in part by the raw vocals of the grandfathers of modern rock, The Velvet Underground, frontman Mark Lesseraux's crooning careens jaggedly around somewhat disjunct melodies. Homophonic guitars and drum kits punctuate the lyrics and jazz up the beats on the refrain to complete an entirely danceable tune.

"Catch You on the Way Down" ups the rock ante further as it strikingly emulates the band's fellow New Yorkers, The Walkmen. Lesseraux has the bluesy vocal edge down, and The Citizens import a piano on the track to complete a textbook Walkmen sound.

The second half of the production picks up where the former left off but winds down and cadences with a decidedly ethereal-pop sound. "You Might Be Right" features a duet between Felicity Fenton and Mark Lesseraux. The track is reminiscent of both the soothing warmth of Kathleen Edwards and the sober nonchalance of The Delgados. A slow and gentle snare shot serves as a pair of lazy windshield wipers for this rainy road trip tune.

Lesseraux warms up his falsetto for the relaxed lullaby, "Clementine." The love song, a tired waltz, uses a slowly pacing string bass and harmonic guitar before calling upon a subdued 1950s-style back-up chorus that would even properly put a baby in an uncomfortable car seat to sleep.

The Citizens are a lot of things: edgy, restrained, disjunct, melodic, honest. But more bluntly, their freshman release clearly defines what these New Yorkers are not. And one thing The Citizens are not is amateurs. Based on their first effort, these boys are sure to continue to deliver their unique brand of rock, unclassifiable as it may be. If The Citizens' intended destination is a place of their own craft that lies beyond the boring boundaries of traditional pop, they can stop driving.

Beezer de Martelly - Delusions Of Adequacy

"Lab Productions Review"

Clothed like proper English gentlemen, top hats and all, The Citizens longingly stare out at me from an expansive stretch of highway. However, these are no Englishmen, nor are they really on a highway. They're actually four New York City (gentle) men, and this is their CD. They were gathered together, sort of one by one, if you will, by each other.

The Citizens, Mark Lesseraux, Thom Loubet, Jason DiMatteo, and John Bollinger, have created a sound that defies anything coming out of New York City. They are at the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum, seeming to emerge from another generation where music was actually composed, and not simply thrown together. Lesseraux's voice is so warm it is like bottled sunshine, making any day seem better. Less is more is not the rule of thumb on this record. In addition to the basics, a flawless fusion of violin, cello, space organ guitar, piano, and sound effects are lent to individual songs. The songs are so immaculately arranged that you can't help but feel a Beatle-esque comparison coming on.

"What's Happening at the Seams" sets a melancholy tone that doesn't last for long. Despair is replaced by the rockin' "A Thing for You" that is undeniable catchy. "Mussolini's First Crush" is mildly psychedelic and majorly intoxicating. Lesseraux lets loose a Robert Plant worthy wail and begs "Give me some of your attention, before I lose all sense of proportion..." and admits that he goes to church "just to watch her pray."

The metaphorical "King Kong" is accompanied by Lesseraux's velvety piano and despondent vocals. The drums on "Are We There Yet?" set an eerie tone, and when the song ends you can't help but want more. This record is a musical roller coaster, starting at the bottom of the emotional spectrum, and taking you on ups and downs, twists and turns, and finally leaving you feeling like its all over too quick.

Music that has a certain quality of musicianship is generally for listeners with a well trained ear, and patience (or as I like to say, good taste). If you are looking for a new CD to open yourself up to, what lies ahead is a beautifully crafted record that tugs at the heartstrings. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. - Lab Productions

"Splendid Magazine review"

With their sweeping, reverby pop/rock and unique-yet-strangely-familiar arrangements, The Citizens cherry-pick the very best from Jeff Buckley, U2, Big Star, even bits of The Waterboys, and re-assemble them into lovely mini-epics bursting with jangly guitars. An ambitious bunch, they're actually at their best when they stretch out on the longest of Are We There Yet's ten tracks. Though The 'Zens' tunes often bear the operatic hallmarks of Buckley and Bono's stuff (the swooning "Clementine" and bombastic title track, respectively), Mark Lesseraux's strong, crystal-clear vocals are most comparable to Ron Sexsmith getting his rock on, especially on the wide-open pop of "Blusher" and the plaintive "Deck Full of Jokers". The unpredictable song structures are fresh and innovative, too, twisting off in unexpected directions mere seconds before you can remember what they remind you of.

- Steve English - Splendid

"Pitchfork review"

Are We There Yet?, the debut from New York's The Citizens, is an album-lover's album. Well-paced and cleverly sequenced, it is, in many ways, a throwback to the great records of the 1970s, and fresh enough not to sound like one. Y'see, the album is a tough thing to perfect, and few bands really ever develop the consistency and variety necessary to flesh one out properly-- to make a record you'll want to hear in its entirety-- which makes the fact that this is The Citizens' first shot all the more impressive.
...Lesseraux can sing his ass off and he isn't afraid to do it.

...this is an extremely solid debut by a band with all of its pieces very well in place. If they can stick it out, it's easy to imagine them achieving great things.

-Joe Tangari, September 13th, 2004 - Pitchfork

"Tiny Mix Tapes review"

...The album is dripping with New York-style melodies and sentiment, but Are We There Yet? goes further than that. It encompasses a plethora of moods and passions that elevate this record to 'surprise' status and leaves the listener entirely gratified by its conclusion. Each song contains its own element of distinguished refrains, producing an eclectic combination of diverse musicianship.

...within the shadows of New York's finest performers, The Citizens have blended a poignant and fascinating, personal self-image of professional musicianship that elevates the band to unanticipated captivation ...In fact, the vocals on the entire record showcase the strength of the music of the band; persuasive, robust, passionate, resilient, melodic, etc. There is absolutely nothing that is gaudily wrong with Are We There Yet?, which poses perhaps the ultimate question: Are They There Yet? And How Did They Get There?

- wolfman - Tiny Mix Tapes

"Delusions Cromagnon review"

The Citizens, a quintet out of New York City, has captured something rarely heard or at least well accomplished these days on its latest effort, Post Cro-Magnon Drift. Not only is this album a complete entity that demands to be listened to from start to finish, but the band members have crafted a blend of pop and rock that not only draws on a variety of styles, but blends them in to something wholly unique. Where many groups borrow and imitate, the Citizens listen, learn and interpret. And the band members do it with mindful precision, melody to spare, and idiosyncratic lyrics. In short, Post Cro-Magnon Drift is a joy to listen to.

The Citizens are Mark Lesseraux (vocals, keyboards), Thom Loubet (guitars), Jason Dimatteo (bass), John Bollinger (drums), and Katherine Miller (keyboards, Mac laptop, vocals). Post Cro-Magnon Drift is the band’s second release and from the overall sound of the disc this five-some couldn’t be tighter. Not only is the songwriting stellar, it seems the recording captured the very essence of the Citizens - clearly not any easy feat for many groups, but especially powerful considering the complex, but subtle layers found here. Taking the total package yet another notch ahead of the group’s peers is Mark Lesseraux’s vocals. He has the kind of voice melodies are made for and he also somehow manages to suit each song style with flair and ease.

From the beginning of the opening track, “The Surfer,” it’s clear that the Citizens are going to take you on a little journey. Sometimes the direction(s) are pretty clear - on this first song the focus seems to be firmly rooted in 60’s and 70’s California psychedelic surf rock. The whole piece is so lush it soars to larger-than-life proportions in the span of just a handful of minutes. While the content of “The Surfer” takes a bit of turn from what would be standard fare, the Citizens only get a little quirkier on “Domingo Hirsch and His Internal Flying Circus,” “September 30th 1995,” or “Apache Strobe Light.” Among these as well as the other songs on Post Cro-Magnon Drift you have myriad sound concoctions - bits of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s in the form of prog-rock, classic rock, jazz, funk, pop, and more. Since many of the nuances here are fairly understated you will likely enjoy the discovery of each delicate gem with repeated listens.

The Citizens shouldn’t be missed! It’s easy to say that this band or that band is the best new thing to hit the streets, but in the case of this NYC quintet it would be impossible not to sing the members’ praises. Fans of any sort of quirky pop or rock should get their hands on Post Cro-Magnon Drift immediately and let the bliss-out begin.

-Jennifer Patton
09/14/06 - DOA

"MusicOMH London"

If you haven't heard of The Citizens already, it's about time you did. Positioned musically somewhere between a proggier Brian Jonestown Massacre and a more psychedelic Mekons, their new album Post Cro-Magnon Drift is a true gem, undiscovered and waiting to be unearthed.

As The Citizens are New York-based, housed on the tiny Yellow Ball Records label, and their previous album - 2004's Are We There Yet? - seems impossible to track down in the UK, you may be asking how musicOMH has managed to discover them. This would be down to the admirable efforts at self-promotion of Citizens' guitarist Thom Loubet, scouring websites and matching up press copies with reviewers who've looked favourably on similar sounds (in the case of this reviewer, The Decemberists) and buttering them up - although believe me, there's no need to when the music is this good.

There are plenty of traces of the utterly fantabulous Decemberists in here, most notably on the whimsical folk-pop of A Makeshift Militia and Meat of the Major's Mind, the former of which in particular conjures up images of The Seekers filtered through early Pink Floyd, but listen carefully and elsewhere on the record you'll also find aural nods to Love (18 Dover) and plenty of dreamy West Coast psychedelia, particularly on opener The Surfer, where frontman Mark Lesseraux begins by innocently singing of California girls before transmogrifying into a madly chaotic soundtrack fit to backdrop a nightclub imagined by Angela Carter. This segues into the following track, Domingo Hersch and His Internal Flying Circus (see what I mean?), with perfect stoner lyrics 'Was there something I was meant to remember/Something I was meant to forget?'

Elsewhere, you'll find songs dedicated to the death of James Dean (September 30th, 1955), Gary Numan covers (I Dream of Wires) and trancey, trip-hop, aboriginal soundscapes (Apache Strobe Light) interspersed with spiky new wave guitars (The Creator). Their Numan cover is particularly superb, slowed down and given a bassier, warmer, Middle Eastern flavour - chill-out music for a lost Arabian Night at a secret desert rave.

It's catchy, hugely listenable and great summer music, so make sure you make the best of it while the sunshine lasts. In fact, there's so much else to say about it there's hardly need to mention the lovely touch of breaking the track listing in two on the sleeve notes, as if this was a proper record (so much more substantial than your new-fangled CD/MP3 nonsense) but I'm going to anyway, because these sort of things make me happy and show that there's just that little bit more thought going into all this than usual.

All of the above is such a relief, because Thom seems like a truly lovely bloke in his emails and handwritten post-it notes, and it would have been a terrible guilt trip to have to say his album was awful, or even mediocre. But it's not - it really is something special and if your local record shop isn't stocking it, hit them over the head with a big stick until they do. Luckily, these days there's always the internet to make sure you don’t need to worry about that sort of thing. So go order it - NOW! What on Earth are you waiting for?
- Jenni Cole - Music OMH

"Greg Tate-of the Village Voice"

Staggeringly beautiful, big clean crazy sounds and sound quality, lush, exotic harmonic twists, mind twisting lyrics...very cool stuff. - Citizens

" review"

You know the band’s a keeper when you start picturing the videos, writing the Rolling Stone album review in your head, and plotting their VH1 Behind the Music. The Citizens are already a solid, imaginative, passionate rock band, creating a tapestry of sound that collects threads from 60s rock, 70s rebellion, 80s experimentation, and modern confrontational alt rock. These four guys sound like they’ve lived through it all and are playing the soundtrack...

The CD (Are We There Yet?) is divided into two parts. Part One is high-energy, with more uptempo rock songs, while Part Two is darker and moodier. On both parts, The Citizens swirl in sound effects, distortion, echoes, and shrieks that add to the mystery of the sound. Through it all, lead vocalist Mark Lesseraux sounds like he’s balancing delicately on the edge of mental stability. “Mussolini’s First Crush” is a good example, a track that would make Pink Floyd prick up their ears. “Blusher” is a more in-your-face example, with deliberately, tauntingly raw lyrics.

But the lyrics I liked best contained images that jumped out and grabbed me. In the jumping, explosive rock song “Catch You on the Way Down,” I love the line, “I ate from the tree and now I’ve got a mouth full of ideas.” I also like the series of images blurring together in the dreamy “Kaleidoscope”:

Do you recall
no fear at all?
Stained glass windows
and puppet shows
rows of houses
Mother’s blouse ...

The title track is a standout for its drama and intensity. It sounds like performance art in the orchestra pit of a gothic opera house.

They can do jangly rock, they can groove, and they can make you want to start edging nervously toward the door. But you won’t be able to make yourself leave. - - Jennifer Layton


Are We There Yet? is The Citizens' debut album 2004.
Post-Cromagnon Drift is The Citizens second album, 2006



"Best Rock album of 2004--elegant, intelligent, captivating." -The Deli Music Magazine

As heard on MTV, and NPR's All Songs Considered.

The Citizens Bio As Understood by Guitarist, Thom Loubet:

Mark and I played together for the first time with the experimental Octet Earthdriver. After a few rehearsals, Mark asked me if I'd be interested in playing guitar on his own project as well. I went way up to the Bronx with a bag of effects and no idea what to expect. What I found was the thing I’d been practicing for since I was eleven.

I brought in Jason and Jason brought in John. Our combined experience included rock, psych-pop, jazz, funk, fusion and some impossible-to-define performance art. We learned to fuse it all together in countless late-night rehearsels and downtown gigs, creating a style that has been described as "avant rock" and sometimes as "alt-pop". Then, Katherine and Mazz jumped on board and transformed this little rock band into a magnificent powerful machine. We'll never be the same.

We wrote and recorded our record 'Are We There Yet?' all over New York City. We used three studios and five sound engineers to capture the sonic variety that had become our trademark. The resulting sound is, well, eclectic but very much our own.