Ear Candle Recordings is mighty pleased to present What Is Truth?, the second album by J Neo Marvin & the Content Providers.
Expanding on the sparse, minimalist sound of the first Content Providers CD, Slowly I Turned, What Is Truth? takes its inspiration from psychedelic classics like Their Satanic Majesties Request and Magical Mystery Tour, resulting in an anything-goes approach that stretches the music in whatever direction each song calls for, from the Dylan-goes-to-New-Zealand folk-rock of "Primate House (1731 11th Ave)", to the darkly sad chamber-punk of "Ex-Supernova" or "Stick Figure", to the thumping "Mark E. Smith in Turkey backed by a jazz combo and a Rasta drum circle" ambiance on "Fiscal Year Zero (Charge Of The Lite Brigade)", the catchy Celtic Mariachi drone of "Formerly Boomtown", and the full-on joyful noise of "Kite Song".
The lyrics of What Is Truth? cover more ground than its predecessor, too, this time dealing with the state of the country both before and after the recent events that have led us to our current path of destruction, as well as tight-focus portraits of individuals coping (or not coping) with modern life as we know it. All of which leads us back to the title question, which was first posed by Johnny Cash at the beginning of the 1970s. What Is Truth? doesn't offer any easy answers, but might help to get us started asking the hard questions.
Out of the 12 songs, 10 are new original numbers by former X-tal frontman and head Content Provider J Neo Marvin; the other two, "Kite Song" by Yoko Ono and "Slow Drain" by Mink Deville, though not originally planned as such, function as a small salute to the creativity and resilience of the people of New York City.
The expanded Content Providers lineup on What Is Truth? includes Slowly I Turned veterans Alan Korn on bass, Carrie Bradley (100 Watt Smile, Breeders, Ed's Redeeming Qualities) on violin, Rico Bell (Mekons) on accordion and Tim Ennis on percussion, plus newcomers like Diane Wallis (ex-She Mob) and Cynthia Wigginton (ex-Bedlam Rovers and occasional guest Mekon) on violins, Nik Phelps (Sprocket Ensemble, Tom Waits, ex-Club Foot Orchestra) on horns and woodwinds, Jill Fido (Holy Sisters Of The Gaga Dada) on bass, Terri Manning (sister/collaborator of Barbara Manning) on vocal harmonies, flutes and musical saw, and many more. (The total number of contributors is 28!) Recorded exactingly yet spontaneously in good old-fashioned lysergic 16-track analog by the incomparable Wally Sound, What Is Truth? will astonish you with its musical twists and sharp songwriting.
Recommended tracks for radio: "Formerly Boomtown", "Fiscal Year Zero", "Ex-Supernova"
Recommended track for DJs who want to get in trouble with the FCC: "Primate House"
WHAT THE PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
“The former music critic (Puncture) and ex-leader of Bay Area band X-tal, Marvin is a pleasure for those who decry that lyrics are a lost art. On his LPs (see also 2001’s Slowly I Turned), Marvin favors light folk-rock with elements of the New Zealand Flying Nun style, only with a chest full of Americana elements, lots of violins, accordion, background horns, tambouras, theremin, wooden flute, slide whistle, and steel drums---even musical saws, and whatever a dumbek, a pandiero, and gongokqui bells are! But it’s Marvin’s strummy guitar and near-spoken-word writing that’s the focal point, delivered tunefully like ‘60s Byrds or Fairport Convention, telling whole tales in song. The best is “Primate House”, with violins jawing against his catchy book-length words, describing the less than desirable behavior by anthropoid ape-like humans in one loony residence. It’s the sort of LP where you put it on and hang on every word, wanting to find out what happens next. And good man that he is, Marvin records two New York covers, the dubious Yoko Ono (1973’s “Kite Song”), and the unfairly forgotten Mink Deville (1980’s “Slow Drain”) in sympathy with us for 9/11. Thanks, guy! Now check out his album. It’s even better if you listen to it around a campfire.”
-Jack Rabid, THE BIG TAKEOVER
"Marvin seems to be a journalist who writes for The Village Voice as well as The San Francisco Bay Guardian amongst others, but the thing that makes him hip for me is that he once interviewed Northern English legend Mark E Smith. 'What Is Truth?' is a fairly mellow mix of anti-folk and folk rock and covers the usual subjects such as capitalism, what old punks do when they calm down and why Republicans should never be allowed in Government. All subjects dear to my heart, well put and even better sung and played. Very interesting- has a whiff of old style radical Californian politics."
"J Neo Marvin sings with a quirky tremor (think the Waterboys), and while his voice requires meat, his lyrics fulfill all expectations. Discover cool political rhetoric and find out why "I feel like I need to take a shower every time somebody speaks" is only the tip of the iceberg."
-Sonia Pereira, PUNK PLANET
"J Neo Marvin (X-Tal) is an underground indie/folk rock legend. He has been part of the psychedelic, the punk, and the folk rock movements since the early 80's. His sound combines the twisted feel of some Velvet Underground albums with the folk/punk feel of the Mekons, whose Rico Bell plays accordion on some tracks. All of his lyrics are simple yet tell stories with deep and intricate subplots that bring the listener into the entire story that is being told by the music. The accompanying instruments vary from harmonicas to trombones to accordions to any harmonic combination of instruments possible. The entire album has a very choral feel to it as if there is a church choir singing in the background, which there might even be ; ). Credits go to Willy Deville on track 4 and Yoko Ono on track 8 Similar bands include: The Replacements, the Only Ones, Velvet Underground"
-Boris Fedorov, KCSC radio
"A pretty hip new fusion of folk and indie with a punk feel.
I've seen these guys live, and they're pretty good. They have a very unconventional band and sound, with multiple keyboards, hand drums, violins, and the traditional bass and guitar section. The songs are creative and a lot of attention has obviously been paid on lyrical craftsmanship. Most of the songs are very intelligent and cover a range of punk-feeling topics, from dissatisfaction with the current socio-political realities, analysis of failed friendships, to angst and bitterness with consumerism and the 'me, me, me' culture. It's not all down, though, and you may find an upbeat love song hidden in the mix. =)
The music itself is often very pleasant, sometimes in stark contrast to the lyrics laid down on top of them. There's a very accoustic and folk-y sound to it. All in all, a great album and an even better live band."
-Anonymous customer review on bookworms.org