Marwood (EP)


Independent release, 2005

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


With influences ranging from the Crow(e)s (Black and Counting) to Squeeze to the Stones, Marwood fuses classic rock riffs with singer-songwriter sensitivity, creating a sound that's instantly appealing, if perhaps not yet fully formed.

This EP, recorded by Dave McNair (Los Lobos, Soul Asylum) captures six tracks that carry a rich, organic sound, as if they were recorded live. Sweet riffs abound and the tunes are thoughtfully crafted. The New York-based band is/was Benji Rogers (vocals, guitar), Rob Overbey (guitars/vocals), Brett Conti (bass/vocals) and Mike Talbot (drums). ("Is/was" reflects the fact that the latest updates to the band's site indicate Rogers is forging ahead as a solo artist under the name Marwood, with a rotating cast of players behind him.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Can't Say" starts things off in full-throated Black Crowes style, a driving riff propelling the band forward. It isn't long, though, before you get a taste of the soft-hard dynamics that flow through much of this album, as the band throws in a right-down-to-the-vocals breakdown before barreling back in full force. Used once or twice, this can be a very effective technique; Marwood seems to rely on it a bit too often here.

The second track, 'Soulless" feels like a natural single, with a tasty, stabbing hook anchoring the choruses, solid vocals and an acerbic, perceptive jaded-love lyric. This one earned repeated listens.

Track three, "Name To Me No More," is where the band stumbles. The song itself is solid enough - another soft-hard confection -- but Rogers tries singing the choruses in a falsetto that feels so far out of his natural register that it grates. Belting out the verses, he sounds great; I just cringed whenever the verse came around. "Reconsider" generated a similar reaction -- great verses, but the chorus finds Rogers straining outside his natural register and sounding slightly off-key at times.

"Monday Over Friday," a rather Train-like ballad, is the song the group has been featuring, even cutting a video for it, and it's easy to understand why. Here Rogers' in-and-out of falsetto vocals on the chorus work well, and the song itself has a sweet acoustic hook that the band uses to dig a nice groove. The final track, "Fallin'," feels a little out-of-sync with the Stonesy grind of earlier tunes, an even gentler acoustic ballad that tries to soar and doesn't quite get there.

This EP is a solid piece of work that suggests Marwood may be just a step away from the big time. Rogers is a talented songwriter/frontman; he just needs to consider whether it makes more sense to play to his solid rock voice or keep messing around with the soft-hard-falsetto thing. I vote the former -- and will keep watching Marwood with interest to see what develops next.

[For more information on Marwood, visit]

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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