Vancouver’s terminally underrated songsmith Marq DeSouza revisits familiar territory on his second solo album. “More Than a Price” is rock with the emphasis on classic over modern, thank God, and “Solitaire Bound” is DeSouza’s standard-issue stadium epic, now with more screaming mountaintop guitar and wind machines. It’s like good Bon Jovi, if you can get your head around that. And since somebody’s gotta write this stuff, it might as well be DeSouza, since he’s so damn good at it. Not insignificantly, he also has a way with a lyric, tossing off great lines as casually as he seems to patch these tunes together. In “The End of the Song” and the bombastic country-blues of “Absolute Duty (To Someone Like You)”—which wouldn’t sound out of place on the last Raconteurs album—DeSouza’s writing is so strong that you wonder if he’s covering some lost classic rescued from his dad’s 8-track collection. Elsewhere, “Lighter Than a Feather” and “Bar for the Broken-Hearted” feel suspended somewhere between country Stones and Wilco before the going got weird. Like his self-titled album from 2006, …Boyish Charms is a little recklessly produced, but it’s urgent and brimming with energy—probably because DeSouza is principally concerned with just getting his songs out there. And indeed, if there were something like a Tin Pan Alley or a Brill Building in his ‘hood, he’d have full-time work. Maybe it’s time for the man to go hawking his tunes down in Los Angeles or Nashville.
His second solo CD after two with Solarbaby. This is powerful rock with smart lyrics. He appropriates freely from all kinds of influences including the folk of Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, country, metal, blues, hip-hop and power pop. And it all ends up being unvarnished rock and roll. He blasts through the music the same way the Stones do on Exile or the Velvet Underground of Loaded. Play The End of This Song and then go back and listen to the Velvet’s Sweet Jane. It is hard to say enough good things about this CD without falling into clichés. You gotta listen.
Living a few thousands miles east of Vancouver guaranteed that I had never heard of local musician Marq DeSouza. And after listening to his very ambitious, fourteen-song, self-titled CD over the last week, I’m realizing what a shame that is.
For one, I could tell immediately upon the first few listens that this guy is a true, musical journeyman both as a songwriter and recording artist. Even if a specific song didn’t do it for me; after the first couple of plays, I could hear the genius in the details which, I’ve learned as a seasoned listener, separates the men from the boys, so to speak.
And there are a lot of details in the song’s respective locations, aptly complementing the individual track they’re enhancing, instead of taking away. A good example is on the catchy You Haven’t Changed At All, where there is a continuous guitar solo throughout a portion of the track. Yet the song is mixed at just the right level so that it doesn’t become a distraction. And just as the song is nearing its end, a great layer of harmonica and gentle picking of the guitar strings subtlety trail off in a sonic dance of bliss. This song is one of the standouts on the disc and reminds me of a cross between Blue Rodeo, Tom Cochrane, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The real beauty is that it’s all pulled off without sounding derivative.
But make no mistake, this album will conjure up comparisons to a whole whack of rockers from bygone days. As well as the before-mentioned acts, I’m constantly amazed at how closely Marq’s voice resembles that of a young Mick Jagger from the Let It Bleed era (but only on certain songs when he accesses his lower vocal range.
This leads me into my one critique of this effort, which lies with in the apparent production inconsistencies which crop up now and again, negatively impacting the overall sound. It is most apparent on the hard rocking All You Had To Say Was Hi!, which is a song that has grown on me despite my initial confusion as to why both back up singers’ (Amanda Sonic Guests) appear to rock in a lower register than their natural range would indicate.
I also found that track one’s Prey Becomes Predator, appears to be unlikely slagging fodder for some pundits who feel this thrash metal tune just doesn’t “fit” with the rest of the disc. This song is one of my favorites, in no small part due to the fantastic guitar layering and the solos that leave me shaking my head in respectful awe. Fair enough, the vocals appear recorded and/or mixed in a way that just isn’t congruent with the quality on the rest of the disc. This is unfortunate, because you know DeSouza’s instincts are too aware for him not to have known that.
There’s definitely not a lack of vocal ability with Marq, as DeSouza’s pipes prove to be first rate, most notably on the cuts You Haven’t Changed, Glimpse of Her, and the kick-ass Some $, Somehow. This track is an impressive offering of balls-to-the-wall rock of the Cougar/Hip/Stones/Skynyrd calibre, and it would be an injustice if this song doesn’t crack Canadian radio soon as this tune should be topping the summer charts across the entire country.
Following behind is the trackRazorburn which is another Skynyrd sounding tune, especially during the latter half of the song which graces us with some of the most impressive guitar manipulation I’ve heard since Slash was in the Gunners.
This musical skill is what impresses me the most after listening to, and getting addicted to, this disc. Despite being an independent release, the quality of songwriting and musicianship on this album is comparable to some of the best records released, which is a testament to DeSouza’s: talents; abilities; staying-power, and the-all-important-gift - instincts. Marq could steal Springsteen’s tag of hardest-working-man-in-rock music with his two-year labour of love, which does not disappoint.
I don’t usually rate the albums I review, but I need to give this disc a nine out of ten, 9/10
and I hope Marq DeSouza’s Self-Titled CD generates enough critical and commercial buzz. that his follow-up attempt will get the financial backing it deserves (ahem…Bob Rock as producer)?
But if an offering of funding and production assistance is not forthcoming, I am sure Marq will still deliver top quality music on a working man’s budget.
Great work, man. You have yourself a new fan in the Eastern part of the country who can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.”
INDY MUSIC CAFE
“This disc is kind of a sampler of Marq DeSouza songwriting—excellent new songs with a few older gems thrown in for good measure.Opening tune ‘Prey Becomes Predator’ is the song that comes closest to being in your face, with a menancing yet strangely inviting guitar and vocal delivery. ‘Razorburn’ and ‘A Lucky Man’ have more of a cool coffeehouse feel, with spiralling, melancholy guitar and vocals that are more ‘communicated’ rather than sung. DeSouza is not really a singer in the Paul McCartney tradition but more of a stylist who can pack a lot of weight into each line. Indeed, though the CD is well-produced, with punchy guitars, drumwork and nice bits of B3 organ, there is a overriding element of gruff streetcorner serenading here that really draws you in. Two really notable tracks are ‘Glimpse Of Her’, which manages to combine soothing, warm guitars, mushy love and edgy desperation all into one song, and ‘All You Had To Say Was Hi!’, a rollicking but quirky courtship duet with a nice line about ‘standing by the condom coin machine’. ‘Some Guy’ is a beautiful piece that captures the angst of idealism and is a great addition to this album—it is an older song with more of the pop feel of his former band Solarbaby. Overall, this is a solid mix of straight-ahead guitar rock and mellow, introspective pieces, all glued together by some of the most head-spinning lyrics you’ll ever hear.”
“A man with afuture; Marq DeSouza, a former Lethbridge resident now living in vancouver,has just released one of the best CDs to cross my desk this year and next week in event,his friends and music fans can see a story on what he’s been up to since living the city. DeSouza is an exceptional song writer and knows how to lay down some great guitar licks,too i’d almost describe him as a lotus land Springsteen with an edge.he’s got a great future ahead of him”
DeSouza has always shown talent as a songwriter but his latest, self-titled record bears down a little harder. He hasn’t abandoned his appreciation of pop-rock, just replaced it with a band sound that is heavier. Sort of the difference between Neil Young playing with hired guys and Young with Crazy Horse. He also writes from a very moral perspective, which gives his records a strong POV. These songs are not filled with empty thoughts but actually try to say something.
On his latest CD, DeSouza is less pop-rock, which is initially how he made his reputation, and has gone for a less arranged, less hook-filled approach. Thus, there is more a band sound—more guitars, busier drums, heavier and more intense. More riff than la-la melody, in other words. He’s also become more sure of himself as a singer and lyricist. There are times, such as on “Glimpse Of Her,” he becomes like a young Bob Dylan in his phrasing, at others, “Some $, Somehow,” a brash rocker. You get the feeling that he is mad at many things and they have become songs.
THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT
“As musical templates go, Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street are hard to beat. Maybe that’s why Marq DeSouza doesn’t look much further. It’s to his credit that the singer goes to the source though—the inspiration of those monumental records drips from every distorted and bent guitar note, down-but-not-out vocal phrasing, and sneered lyric on his debut solo album. DeSouza, who fronted an outfit called Solarbaby in the ’90s, sounded distinct back then by avoiding the flannel-wrapped clichés of the time with rootsy rock ’n’ roll. Now, with the popularity of Ryan Adams and Sam Roberts, DeSouza sounds ready for the spotlight, and, with a proper recording budget, tracks like the ballsy “Prey Becomes Predator” could probably get some mainstream action. As it is, Marq DeSouza should at least attract the attention of roots-rock fans, college radio DJs, and, with a little luck, a music consultant for some sexy cable show; his sizzling duet with Amanda Sellers on the red-hot “All You Had to Say Was Hi!” deserves to soundtrack an “and then their eyes met”–type moment. Ultimately, any record with a song called “Where Did All Your Wit Go?” can’t be bad”
INDY MUSIC CAFÉ
This disc is kind of a sampler of Marq DeSouzas songwriting—excellent new songs with a few older gems thrown in for good measure. Opening tune ‘Prey Becomes Predator’ is the song that comes closest to being in your face, with a menacing yet strangely inviting guitar and vocal delivery. ‘Razorburn’ and ‘A Lucky Man’ have more of a cool coffeehouse feel, with spiralling, melancholy guitar and vocals that are more ‘communicated’ rather than sung. DeSouza is not really a singer in the Paul McCartney tradition but more of a stylist who can pack a lot of weight into each line. Indeed, though the CD is well-produced, with punchy guitars, drum work and nice bits of B3 organ, there is a overriding element of gruff street corner serenading here that really draws you in. Two really notable tracks are ‘Glimpse Of Her’, which manages to combine soothing, warm guitars, mushy love and edgy desperation all into one song, and ‘All You Had To Say Was Hi!’, a rollicking but quirky courtship duet with a nice line about ‘standing by the condom coin machine’. ‘Some Guy’ is a beautiful piece that captures the angst of idealism and is a great addition to this album—it is an older song with more of the pop feel of his former band Solarbaby. Overall, this is a solid mix of straight-ahead guitar rock and mellow, introspective pieces, all glued together by some of the most head-spinning lyrics you’ll ever hear.
THE NERVE MAGAZINE
I first saw Marq DeSouza about 10 years ago at the Town Pump playing drums for Cinnamon. My girlfriend said he stood out from the rest of the group because he was wearing such a nice dress shirt. She was right. I’ve been wearing dress shirts myself ever since. On his newest solo album, DeSouza continues to have ideas that I wouldn’t mind stealing. Ignoring the opening track (a glam metal gross-out) and the scattershot production, DeSouza’s good taste is here in abundance: in the tones, the mandolin that drifts into “A Lucky Man”, the heavenward chord changes of “Daddy Doom”, the rat-a-tatchorus of “Glimpse Of Her” (if only this was on the radio…), and all the sly melodic directions he consistently takes with no apparent shortness of breath. Even in the more hard-charging moments, like “Some $, Someshow, the twang in DeSouza’s heart means that he can’t help himself with a tossed-off beauty of a guitar-lick or turn-of-phrase. All of which undescores his way smarter than average take on the singer-songwriter thing, and his ear for what made rock classic. It’s like a piece of Todd Rundgren broke off and landed here. I sincerely wish DeSouza had a bigger budget, and a world that continued to have ears for smart rock n’ roll. He’s still got a lot of style, and he still stands out.
“It’s often easy to overlook the lyrical brilliance on anp album that rocks this hard. Imagine the perfectionist every-note-has-its-purpose melodies of vintage power pop such as Cheap Trick, sung with a Billy Corgan-esque voice with a brash Ramones-like attitude, and you may have somewhat of an idea what SOLARBABY sounds like. But you’ve got to hear it to believe it.”
THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT
“Guitar-driven, raucous, and swaggering. Songs that range from lo-fi arena anthems and bluesy Stones-like rockers, to supercatchy power pop and straight out of the garage stompers. DeSouza gets a lot of attention for his lyrics, and rightfully so. The lyrics are humorous and smart, the songs are lean and immediate, and the arrangements are loud or quiet in all the right places.”
“A remarkable set of fully-formed pop songs.” Melancholy soul-searching tunage. Several of which entail wondrous blasts of harmonica. Solarbaby’s simple rock and endearing lyrics touched me with a wave of happiness. As always the lyrics grab the focus, but DeSouza does play a mean slide guitar that rivals Elmore James.”
“A debut of such proportions as THE POWER OF NEGATIVE PRAYER is made only by the sort of pop combo likely to be mentioned after a few more records in any who’s who of indy. Densely packed, full of McCartney-esque bass melody, lush guitar and synth interplay, and infectious pop lyrics. A solid platter and as a debut, a sign of great things to come.”
“Ever-popular local band SOLARBABY’s strong songwriting and Dylan-esque lyrics give the crunchy-guitar trio an edge over the competition.”
“Chocked with fine writing and rock ensemble playing in the tradition of the Stones/Faces/Replacements with a punky edge and Dylan soul. Tales of scorned love and lost souls are delivered by folky driven guitars. Chunky and satisfying with touches of harmonies, acoustic and harmonica.”
“Full of beguiling tracks. Loaded with ideas. The pop hooks you’d expect and a few you wouldn’t that sink in anyway.”
“Gritty, intelligent rock songs Wilco & Bob Dylan fans will appreciate.”
“Damn, if it’s not a solid collection of Rolling Stones and Lou Reed-inspired rock that still maintains indie-cred.”
MUSIC WASTE ‘98
“Intelligent lyrics, cover art and song-smithery. SOLARBABY’s THE POWER OF NEGATIVE PRAYER is among the best Canadian indy releases of 1998.”
“A spunky, tongue-in-cheek style, with cultural and historical references ranging from the fictional to the fabled. And that slightly skewered perception is starting to win people over.”
“Iggy Pop meets John Lennon.”
“Sharply produced with Marq’s unique ‘snarl-twang’ vocals and tight musical and lyrical writing. He sometimes sounds like the world’s most pissed-off cowboy, but this will work in rock.”
“Any of you remember the first CD Not Lame put out almost 4 years ago. On SymPOPhony #1 was a band called the Finns who had this razor sharp Cheap Trick spirit combined w/snotty punk attitude as the singer would sorta spit out the words w/a sly smile. Very much like Too Much Joy’s most classic material, only this band is much more consistent in the quality department. Also, this Canadian band evokes not only that spirit, but the 19 songs diversely display post-Replacements, Beat Farmers soaring rock w/a sense of the need for a solid melodic base at all points.”
“The kind of amped-up roots rock favoured by the likes of Earle, Wilco, and Lone Justice. The disc’s urban-hillbilly twang goes down doubly well with a few shots of grain alcohol, but sobriety is no impediment to enjoying Solarbaby’s charms. Guitarist/singer Marq DeSouza writes some pretty sharp lyrics and delivers them with a backwoods drawl. A collection of songs that sound like old friends the second time you play them.”
“Solarbaby frontman, Marq DeSouza, has a penchant for writing hurtin’ tunes. So it seems absolutely appropriate that his trio’s second album takes a turn at the sign marked “heartache” and marches willfully towards personal oblivion. Gone from this album is Marq’s razor-sharp lyrical wit and humorous wordplay. That sort of stuff is now the sole territory of his solo pursuits. Instead, this Solarbaby album is full of epics about alcoholism, broken hearts, malice, defiance, and injustice. These snapshots of the band’s new world are bleak, and yet they are stark and tragic images that stick in your mind long after the CD has finished playing. In a nutshell: think Steve Earle with the needle still in his arm.”
“Singer Marq DeSouza has the sort of hardy, rough-edged voice that goes down like milk and orange juice; comparisons to The Smashing Pumpkins and Aerosmith are inevitable. Yet despite their arena rock, let’s-take-advantage-of-the-minor-sixth style, Solarbaby definitely stand out from other major label bands who match that description. This is due to their messy-room guitar-rock sound, which keeps them from coming across as overly polished. This style is hinted at in the packaging, but needs to be heard to be understood. And like a dirty room, Solarbaby’s view of life is at times gloomy, but by avoiding the beaten path, they never become sluggishly slow and self-indulgent. Rather, the tempo is always up and on the go, as DeSouza always has something to say. The disc’s final track is mostly acoustic, and in the spirit of Bob Dylan’s “Sad Eyed Lady”, clocks in at ten and a half minutes. The much-repeated line “Keep your gun powder dry” doesn’t offer a dreary thesis on life — if anything, it sounds like the words of a motivational speaker.
VANCOUVER INDIE MAGAZINE
“The progression of sounds throughout this album is familiar. Like working your way down a bottle of Jack Daniels, the guts of this album are tied together with a painful kick as they descend from upbeat tracks like “Born Again Then Buried Alive” through to the bitter “Keep Your Gunpowder Dry”. “Personal Questions” was the track that left the biggest impression with me. With lines like “Sits so bitter in my stomach/Lies like poison on my tongue”, the song speaks loud and clear to a society that demands nothing less than full emotional disclosure. On the same disc, the critically acclaimed “Keep Your Gunpowder Dry” is a creepy anthem for gun-toting white trash who are perpetually down on their luck, long for the comfort of the 1950s and respond to life’s challenges with a hail of gunfire.”
FREIGHT TRAIN BOOGIE MAGAZINE
“When listening to an album this roots-rock rowdy I have to ask myself one question: why do some of the best sounding so-called Americana bands come from Canada? Not just known for Blue Rodeo anymore, Canada’s kicking some major ass on the Americana scene, especially when bands this good can surface seemingly out of nowhere. Solarbaby manages to put out some rowdy country rock without compromising their often clever songwriting. The band has a goofy side as well, as the song “Benzedream” (great title) can attest, but what you got here is some great stuff to drive your blues away! A pure joy. Get this if you like your country music with a little balls, some distortion and a hell of a lot of attitude.”
“Killer! The record blew my mind. Echoes of Bolan, Bowie, Mott the Hoople, “Blonde on Blonde” and “Let it Bleed”. Pure rock’n’roll fantasy.”
AMERICANA UK MAGAZINE
“Instantly likeable. A bit of folk here, a bit of boogie there, and a very distinctive vocal performance throughout. Another talented songwriter from Vancouver. He drawls rather than sings, but although this could annoy, it entertains and draws you in, especially on the piano based Here’s a Song for You, sounding like a mad cross between Jagger and Richards and a bit under the influence. There is little doubt that Marq DeSouza would be a fine live performer. He succeeds best on the off kilter ballads and the more complex arrangements. Definitely one to keep an eye on.”
It’s obvious that Solarbaby’s live presence must be completely outstanding. Coupling outrageous rock vibrancy with catchy melodies and a fantastic, sun-drenched guitar sound, the songs take the cake in terms of both atmosphere and melody. An astoundingly rockin’ album.
More great stuff from Marq DeSouza and his gang. The album has at least three possible singles on it and a 10 minute plus epic. The best cut is the lead off track “Born Again and Buried Alive.” A superb song with a glam rock (i.e. T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, Ronson-era Bowie, not that eighties metal crap) production. Not only does it have some amazing time changes but Marq’s guitar work is exceptional. Other standout tracks include the first single “Benzedream”, “I am Tragedy”, and “Just can’t Keep from Crying”. The last song on the album is “Keep your Gunpowder Dry.” Coming in at over ten minutes, this track tells the story of some whacked out Freemen living out their own “last stand at the Alamo”. Marq’s story telling abilities really shine on this cut. The overall level of the production on this LP is top notch. The liner notes credit John Shepp with Marq DeSouza as the producers. I think the work Mr. Shepp has done with Gob and Matthew Good is the worst crap imaginable; so, I’m going to have to give Marq most of the credit. The album cover also deserves special mention. Going through all the items pictured on the insert is like trying to decipher a Van Eyke painting. I know there’s symbolism there, and its fun to figure it out. Marq has gone for a more consistent musical theme on Another Sidewalk’s Bloody Dream as opposed to his very diverse Temporary Redemption (see review below). There is a bitterness to the lyrics, and a harsher tone in the music. This doesn’t mean it’s hard rock. The Rolling Stones comparisons the album is getting are apt. The differences between Temporary Redemption and Another Sidewalk’s Bloody Dream are similar to the differences found between the Beatles and the Stones. In the mid-Sixties, a music critic wrote that when the Rolling Stones came into the room it was like somebody had just flipped open a switchblade. Listening to Another Sidewalk’s Bloody Dream is Marq flipping open a switchblade on your CD player.
Back when Chart magazine first noticed Solarbaby in 1998, they were lo-fi quick-tongued darlings of the college circuit. Their album was The Power Of Negative Prayer andnow three years later, they’re ready to explode back onto the scene. During their time out of the spotlight they went from being on the Teenage USA roster to their new home, Palehorse Records, which will release their follow-up disc.That new recording by the Vancouver based foursome will be titled, Another Sidewalk’sBloody Dream. Adding guitarist Greg Zakis to the mix, they’ve created songs with political agendas with a new found “world weary frustration.” Solarbaby’s left the lyrical word play behind for a more serious look at life, at least sonically. The first single, “Benzedream,” will be attacking the airwaves and MuchMusic soon.
Solarbaby frontman, Marq DeSouza, has a penchant for writing hurtin’ tunes.So it seems absolutely appropriate that his trio’second album takes a turn at the sign marked”heartache” and marches willfully towards personaloblivion. Gone from this album is Marq’s razor-sharplyrical wit and humorous wordplay. That sort of stuff is now the sole territory of his solo pursuits, which culminated in last year’s debut, Temporary Redemption.Instead, this Solarbaby album is full of epics about alcoholism, broken hearts, malice, defiance, and injustice. These snapshots of the band’s new world are bleak, and yet they are stark and tragic images that stick in your mind long after the CD has finished playing. Also gone on this sophomore effort are the poppy alt-country stylings of their 1998 debut, The Power of Negative Prayer. The band has replaced that sound with a mix of introspective insurgent country—popularized locally by such bands as Radiogram and Flophouse Jr.—and a healthy dose of ‘70’s style blues-rock. Unlike the debut, this album is intended less for dancing and more for nursing a bottle of Bushmill’s and thinking of what might have been. In a nutshell: think Steve Earle with the needle still in his arm.
VANCOUVER INDIE MAGAZINE
Like the Vancouver Art Gallery, it’s easy to appreciate Solarbaby- as long as you don’t try to analyze the art. Some of the lyrics are hauntingly attractive but come up shallow if you think too hard about their meaning. My advice to you - don’t try. They put on a hell of a good live show and when push comes to shove, that’s what makes a good band. Solarbaby’s second release, Another Sidewalk’s Bloody Dream is a follow-up to their well-received freshman album The Power of Negative Prayer. While some reviews have related their sound to bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, the Rolling Stones and Steve Earle, all I heard was Solarbaby’s unique Western Canadian sound with hints of Vancouver’s own Matt Good and a twangy Saskatoon house band feel. The progression of sounds throughout this album is familiar. Like working your way down a bottle of Jack Daniels, the guts of this album are tied together with a painful kick as they descend from upbeat tracks like “Born Again Then Buried Alive” through to the bitter “Keep Your Gunpowder Dry”. “Personal Questions” was the track that left the biggest impression with me. With lines like “Sits so bitter in my stomach/Lies like poison on my tongue”, the song speaks loud and clear to a society that demands nothing less than full emotional disclosure. On the same disc, the critically acclaimed “Keep Your Gunpowder Dry” is a creepy anthem for gun-toting white trash who are perpetually down on their luck, long for the comfort of the 1950s and respond to life’s challenges with a hail of gunfire. While a little rough around the edges, Solarbaby has a well-rounded sound that keeps listeners engaged and psychoanalysts busy. The potential of this group is tangible and this album suggests that they are starting to stretch their legs as performers. I, for one, look forward to their next live show.
Singer Marq Desouza has the sort of hardy, rough-edged voice that goes down like milk and orange juice; comparisons to The Smashing Pumpkins and Aerosmith are inevitable. Yet despite their arena rock, let’s-take-advantage-of-the-minor-sixth style, Solarbaby definitely stand out from other major label bands who match that description. This is due to their messy-room guitar-rock sound, which keeps them from coming across as overly polished. This style is hinted at in the packaging, but needs to be heard to be understood. And like a dirty room, Solarbaby’s view of life is at times gloomy, but by avoiding the beaten path, they never become sluggishly slow and self-indulgent. Rather, the tempo is always up and on the go, as Desouza, despite his voice, always has something to say. The disc’s final track is mostly acoustic, and in the spirit of Bob Dylan’s “Sad Eyed Lady” mixed with Dismemberment Plan’s “The Ice Of Boston”, clocks in at ten and a half minutes. The much-repeated line “Keep your gun powder dry” doesn’t offer a dreary thesis on life — if anything, it sounds like the words of a motivational speaker.
A pretty cool sounding album from Solarbaby, who come from Vancouver in Canada, a country well known for producing some outstanding acts of the highest order. The songs here represent a sort of cross pollenation of what you might get by stuffing The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes & possibly The Beasts Of Bourbon into a studio for a giant jam session, with maybe Steve Earle doing the production.
There are some excellent moments here, from the likes of opening cut “Born Again The Buried Alive”, the more countrified second number “I Am Tragedy” & then “Only Grown”, which is one of my particular favourites. The epic closer “Keep Your Gunpowder Dry” is an interesting diversion to close out with, but a couple of tracks really grabbed my attention, namely “Just Can’t Keep From Crying” & “We Won’t Die”, but really, if you;re into any of the band’s mentioned earlier, you won’t go far wrong here.
Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Solarbaby (aka Marq DeSouza) knows how to rock. And he knows how to roll, too. Another Sidewalk’s Bloody Dream is his most recent album, and it comes off as a wicked dose of alt country-crusted rock music. With influences ranging from The Rolling Stones to Crazy Horse, and even more recent bands like The Supersuckers and Southern Culture on the Skids, Solarbaby’s style has a unique ability to appeal to both rock n’ roll fanatics and cowpunk purists. Listening to these songs, it’s obvious that Solarbaby’s live presence must be completely outstanding. Coupling outrageous rock vibrancy with catchy melodies and a fantastic, sun-drenched guitar sound, the songs take the cake in terms of both atmosphere and melody. Look at “Just Can’t Keep From Crying,” for example. With a brain-numbingly fantastic vocal melody and impeccable guitar soloing, along with flawless drumming, the track is easily one of the best on the album. Also excellent is “Born Again,” which boasts a bit of a influence from the Byrds’ country-rock era, particularly in the guitars. It’s perfect bar music, with a nice ol’ tavern sound to it. A great chorus and some nice Neil Young influences abound.
Noticeably different from the other 11 songs is “Keep Your Gunpowder Dry,” a ten-and-a-half minute song that works as a sort of a mellow epic, ending the album in a most suitable tone. Though in concept a bizarre inclusion, hearing it will clear any doubts you may have as to it’s fittingness.
Well, I’ve never really been a fan of countrified rock n’ roll before, but this album really changed my mind about it. There ain’t nothing here for me to complain about - Another Sidewalk… is just an astoundingly rockin’ album.
AMERICANA UK MAGAZINE
This instantly likeable record mixes acoustic and electric styles, a bit of folk here, a bit of boogie there, and a very distinctive vocal performance throughout. Another talented songwriter from Vancouver, but not one known much outside the city, Marq deSouza is the main man in Solarbaby, and here in solo mode has attracted a great deal of regional acclaim. He drawls rather than sings, but although this could annoy, it entertains and draws you in the heart of the record, especially on the piano based “Here’s a Song for You”, sounding like a mad cross between Jagger and Richards and a bit under the influence. Fans of Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth will recognize a lot of what is going on here, especially in the acoustic moments, and as with the Jacobites, you just get the impression that there’’s too many tunes in this man to be held in. If there’s a drawback, it’s that the rock n roll numbers feel a bit derivative at times, but mostly this is avoided as a result of quality songwriting and well delivered instrumentation. There is little doubt that Marq deSouza would be a fine live performer, but one wonders if he is a little hemmed in here, possibly by the studio but also by song structure- he succeeds best on the off kilter ballads and the more complex arrangements. Definitely one to keep an eye on- and in the meantime, this is a fine introduction to one of Mr deSouza’’s musical personalities.
This album has rock songs, pop rock songs, blues, and roots rock songs. It is nicely varied but not unfocused. Marq is a fine guitarist who is able to mix all these styles equally well but I find he goes a bit heavy on the distortion now and again and tends to drown the vocals a bit. My favourite songs were the acoustic ballads and I found he sang best on these songs with his twang. The more rockin’ tunes had a major whine to the vocals and I’m not partial to the whine. A cool departure if you will is one stripped down piano ballad that is really quite impressive and I loved the Dylanesque closing track. I think this would be a great live performance.
Solarbaby’s writer/front man has assembled a mixed bag of tunes that didn’t make the cut onto the upcoming official band release. With most of the instrumentation performed by DeSouza himself, the meaty leftovers include an incisive gem, “Don’t Go Shooting Horses,” that hits you between the eyes with its refreshing take on love’s redemption. As always, the lyrics grab the focus (“Felt her kiss to the roots of my teeth,” from “Bleeding on the Inside”), but DeSouza does play a mean slide guitar that rivals Elmore James on the irresistibly rollicking “Raze the Living Dead!”
KICK IN THE EYE.COM
So far this year I can honestly say I’ve only heard two number one singles. Now, what i call a number one single and what ends up on the charts are totally different things. For starters, what I call a number one single doesn’t have to be a current release. What makes a number one to me is a song that you have to play over and over again right after you hear it. I remember as a kid buying 45’s because it was great to be able to own a copy of something that gave you a little pick-me-up every time you heard it. “Last Night” by the Strokes was my number one single until recently displaced by local boy Marq DeSouza’s song “Dirty Limericks.” The song is from the LP Temporary Redemption which is an amazing piece of work for a solo artist. Marq performs like a prodigy: writing, singing, producing, playing all the instruments, etc. The whole album sounds awesome considering its humble 4-track origins. Tracks like “Killing You” and “Whatever Happened in Heaven?” rival the best Matthew Sweet cuts and “Raze the Living Dead” is already a classic blues song in our household. That could also be because I’m a huge fan of the Living Dead trilogy. (Hey does anybody know if the next one is going to get made or not? It sounds cool with the Living Dead occupying the cities like the poor and homeless…demanding basic human rights and stuff…sounds hilarious!). The song “Razorburn” is a wicked acoustic number that breaks up the rock sound and has some really cool licks. I could imagine Ian Anderson doing that song. My only complaint with the album — and it’s the same complaint I have with every new album that comes out — is that there are too many tracks on it. If it had only been pared down a little, it would be a classic LP in the same league as Let it Bleed or Tonight’s the Night or Guitartown. Nine or ten tracks are plenty to listen to in a single sitting and make for an overall higher quality product. Marq has got over ten classic songs on here, and what is even more amazing is that these are just the leftovers from his Solarbaby LP Another Sidewalk’s Bloody Daydream. Soon as I pick up a copy of that I’m going to post a review, but I can’t believe anything on it could be better that “Dirty Limericks.” I must have listened to that cut at least a hundred times since i got the CD! You can pick up a copy at Vancouver’s Virgin Megastore or go to one of his shows around town. Next one is March 10th at the Main and then again March 20th at the Marine Club. See ya there!
What the Hell is Penance? This three-piece British Columbia based band waste no time in telling you what they’re all about - “Cheap words like happiness / will let you down” is the refrain to the first song, and for fifty five minutes thereafter we hear nothing but the musings of some very disturbed and pessimistic minds. However, it’s often said that the best art comes out of such minds, and The Power of Negative Prayer is no exception. Cheap Words Like Happiness is but the first in a long line of timeless dirges of suffering that sprawl across this CD. Carousels is probably the best of the bunch and would make a superb single - Dylanesque verses chime out “I might not be not Einstein / but I ain’’t no Frankenstein” or “You don’t say thanks when I splurge / or mourn when I dirge” and the beautiful sing-along chorus of “I see you coming back to me / I dream you riding carousels with buttons all undone” caps it off quite nicely, especially the last chorus, slowed down and sung over acoustic guitar and harmonica. Corny, but brilliant. Gonna Love You is a classic teenage crush song - “Girls only like guys who treat them cruel / if you’re the exception that proves the rule / give me a call on the telephone wire / and let me know if your love’s for hire.” Made of Glass contains just about every word that can rhyme with “glass”,including the accusation “you’re the queen of crass.” Sights are set higher on Losing Time - “I got bruises on my neck / from the dogchains of romance.” These are words that any 17-year-old aspiring poet would die to call his own, but only the best would actually think of. The list goes on. Mistaken For an Angel has all the glorious excess of 80s metal-pop, and even better, none of the annoying screeching and dumb schoolboy lyrics that often went with it. The plead of “Was I just another notch in your bedpost?” at the beginning of Slipping Through could bring a tear to anyone’s eye. And The King of Unrequited Love says it all in the title. It’s often easy to overlook such lyrical brilliance on an album that rocks this hard. Imagine the perfectionist every-note-has-its-purpose melodies of vintage power pop such as Cheap Trick, sung with a whiney Billy Corgan-esque voice with a brash Ramones-like attitude, and you may have somewhat of an idea what Solar Baby sounds like. And it’s far from predictable - there are fast songs, ballads, an ubiquitious harmonica, and even the occasional keyboard. But you’ve really got to hear it to believe it. Solar Baby may not be the most original band in the world, but they certainly worked hard on this promising CD, and they are a first rate outlet for your pain.