Marrow - The Gold Standard - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Marrow - The Gold Standard

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2015-09-03

Marrow is a four piece from the richly musical and diverse Chicago area. Previously, three of them (singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart, and bassist Lane Beckstrom) were in Kids These Days, an eclectic mix bringing together rap, funk and rock. Ultimately, the pressure to religiously cram all of those genres into their songs led to their downfall and demise in 2013.

But out of the ashes the three decided to form Marrow, with the addition of Matt Carroll on drums, and take a less stressful approach to their songs which is immediately obvious with opener ‘She Chose You’, an upbeat blend of vocal duelling from Kazar and Stewart against a simple backdrop of jaunty guitar and fluffy, light melodies. But the band isn’t just about kooky acoustics and threadbare arrangements; they spread themselves out on the roomy ‘Darling Divine’ with Stewart’s plinky plonky out of sequence keys and a haunting refrain that loosely hangs around in the background.

Stewart and Kazar are the lead songwriters in Marrow and they happily switch vocal duties throughout the album.  Stewart wigs out on the driving ‘Paulson’, a straight ahead piece of indie guitar equipped with a couple of falsetto doo woops for extra measure. The campfire melancholy reaches into the breech on the album’s title track and the girl/boy vocals are both quirky and engaging, yes it’s subtle but comes with shades of dream pop duo Wye Oak and the fragile beauty echoed by Mazzy Star. ‘Leave it on the side’ is crammed with Kazar cracked sandy voice and the song initially burns slowly but dips and rises with a cleverly placed set of horns. 

The album is interjected with gloom as much as it’s completed with bright lights of eccentricity on the idiosyncratic ‘Mother of Maladies’, a rampant mix of early Stereolab bleeps and dots and the heightened happiness of Avi Buffalo.

For the finale we get the 7 minute wonder which is ‘Quarter To Three’. An arpeggio finger picked guitar joined by a maelstrom of stately piano which then incandescently layers up introducing atonal shards of glistening noise and power.

Marrow has put together a really interesting debut album.  Free and relieved of the pressure of their previous band and invigorated by the glow of being off the leash they shine through with 11 songs on ‘Gold Standard’. A cleverly well thought out album packed with so many plus points from start to finish

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