Ian McGlynn | Tomorrow's Taken

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Tomorrow's Taken

by Ian McGlynn

...described by some as what it might sound like if Radiohead made an album of nostalgic AM radio pop, or a synth-happy Beatles.
Genre: Pop: Dream Pop
Release Date: 

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1. Morning Prayer
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2. You Might Understand
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4:03 $0.99
3. The Exception
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4. No Time
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5. Southard Park
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6. How Did I Get Here?
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7. Carnivalism
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8. Be My Guide
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9. Here For Me And Not For You
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10. Brian Might Understand
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11. Turn Away
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The title of Ian McGlynn’s debut studio album says it all – Tomorrow’s Taken. His is the sound of an emerging singer/songwriter staking some claim in the future; but with an eye and ear alertly focused on music’s rich past. Ian swallows whole albums by his favorite bands of yesteryear, digests them, and then lets them beam from his fingertips during furtive writing sessions at the piano. But this time, with the help of producer Shane Tutmarc (of Seattle’s Dolour), he’s fashioned them into utterly unique and forward-looking works of art, described by some as what it might sound like if Radiohead made an album of nostalgic AM radio pop, or a synth-happy Beatles.

It’s his marriage of influences from the last four decades that distinguishes Ian’s songs; from The Beach Boys to 70′s Chicago to (Australia’s) The Church to Radiohead. They’re all there, but then again they’re not. That’s because Ian’s songs have such a singular feel. The effect his influences have had on his music is probably at least partly attributable to his moonlighting at piano bars, where he became renown as much for his 45-minute Beatles medley as he was for playing the likes of The Left Banke or The Zombies back to back with INXS or Tom Waits.

Ian’s chameleonesque ability to appeal to aging cigar smokers at stuffy piano bars as well as to college-aged indie music snobs in dark Manhattan venues is the perfect evidence of his unique talent.

A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Ian’s first audience was comprised, of course, of Mom and Dad. But they weren’t just his first audience, they were also his first teachers. His mother, a classically trained pianist, and his father, a rock-n-roll drummer (who has opened up for Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention), have passed on both their passion and their proficiency. Ian started playing the piano at three and wrote his first song, “That’s The Way”, at age 12.

While you would think that career highlights such as an appearance on TV’s Destination Stardom or playing to a packed house at NYC’s The Bitter End would rank as defining moments, Ian has insisted in interviews that performing a few Beach Boys covers with Ken Stringfellow (of The Posies) at a private party and recording Tomorrow’s Taken in an apartment-turned-studio with Tutmarc rank much higher.

Ian’s regard for the more intimate moments that music offers has no doubt manifested itself in the songs that he writes. Listening to a live set from Ian is like entering a strange new world. Each songs a small country, each minor chord some hidden lake. Ian McGlynn draws his audience in, whether or not they’re carrying their passports.


Reviews


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Jason MacNeil at PopMatters


Ian McGlynn relies on synthesizers. In spite of this though, McGlynn is able to create a warm, human thread on most of these 11 tracks, creating a jazzy, winding kind of pop that would fit somewhere between David Gray and Joe Jackson in the record collection. The dreamy, sound effects-tinged "Morning Prayer" is a great intro into McGlynn's world. But this pales compared to the lush and sugar-coated "You Might Understand" and "The Exception" with its moody tone that could be mistaken for a Savage Garden b-side. McGlynn is schooled in old-school pop, particularly on the head bobbing "No Time" that McCartney and Lennon perfected decades ago. There's an innocence rarely seen in today's music that is quite refreshing. A good example is "Southard Park" with its playground noise in the distance. Elliott Smith comparisons might be discerned throughout the fabulous "How Did I Get Here?" The lone clunker is the aimless "Be My Guide". Fortunately "Turn Away" leaves you wanting more.
     

Chuck Zak at Delusions of Adequacy


Fans of ambitiously composed, atmospheric pop might want to clear a little space on their shelves for Ian McGlynn. As a piano-playing graduate of Berklee College of Music with a jones for soaring choruses and rich chord patterns, Mr. McGlynn might not be the guy to set the indie world on fire. His pop is wholesome and harmless, purely bourgeois woolgathering that would be best enjoyed with a sensibly priced Pinot Noir and a couple of Darvocets. But it also frequently transcends its innate niceness to become uplifting, invigorating, and something more than just pleasant.


Ian makes sure to mention the untouchables of this style of panavision pop (McCartney and Wilson, natch), but he’s honest enough to namecheck at least one less-reputable artist as well (Chicago). He could’ve gone on to include Sting or even John Mayer - without embarrassment mind you - or other songwriters with some forgivable pretensions and a taste for grand gestures (okay, Sting is not always so forgivable). Even long-suffering Jellyfish fans might find some respite from the candyless world left in the wake of that band's evaporation.


But really, Tomorrow’s Taken is quite good on its own, if not a total knockout. The record reaches its undeniable zenith in the form of “You Might Understand,” a glorious little piano pounder with a tremulous synthesizer line adding that just-right touch that makes a song great. Though no other song on the disc comes as close to those delirious heights, there’s still plenty to recommend.


“The Exception” is a sweet little smackdown with nice arrangements and a generously full production. The slightly bloated “Here For Me and Not For You” is still a fine minor-key number full of swirling vocal effects and a nagging chorus. And “Southard Park” is a bittersweetly nostalgic song featuring rolling piano arpeggios. Though the record kind of drifts a bit toward the end, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and he at least has the sense to pack the best tunes up front.


The list of names that come to mind when listening to Tomorrow’s Taken is too long to give Ian McGlynn full credit for individuality, but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the disc. If McGlynn can stake out a little more of his own ground with the help of gems like “You Might Understand,” he’ll stand in sharper contrast to the many artists carrying that same torch for the perfect melody.

Zac at Skratch Magazine


Painfully catchy and surprisingly well-arranged, TOMORROW'S TAKEN is one of those albums in which every song is a standout track. Ian McGlynn appropriately uses synthesizers with piano to formulate dreamy pop with a hint of the '60s intertwined with every vocal melody. Upon hearing tracks like "You Might Understand", I began to think about how a good song can truly fix any bad mood. The electronic arrangements share a similarity with that of Xiu Xiu, and the songs themselves are the very stuff that dream pop is made of. If you're into Mae, The Helio Sequence, or even The Postal Service, you'll be swimming in a pool of your new favorite songs with TOMORROW'S TAKEN.

Mike Bennett at fufkin.com


Ian McGlynn – Tomorrow's Taken (Bailey Park): Moody melodic pop music from an artist who knows his way around a studio, ably aided by producer Shane Tutmarc from the band Dolour. McGlynn's melancholy tuneage shows a strong ‘70s pop influence and can be compared favorably to Kevin Tihista. Both McGlynn and Tihista have listened to a lot of Harry Nilsson, I'd guess. I also hear a little bit of Gilbert O'Sullivan in some of the songs here. However, McGlynn's music is more serious than either of those artists. Indeed, there is also a kinship with artists like Elliot Smith. So this record is steeped in tradition, but it is also very immediate and modern. This is aided by going beyond pure pop production and using a variety of keyboards, synthesizers and other instruments to provide specific textures. McGlynn sets the tone on the opener "Morning Prayer", with its drawn out sad melody in the verses, a jazz-based bridge and swaths of synthesizers, distant pianos and chimes wafting in like enveloping clouds. While I'd like to see McGlynn develop a bit more emotional range, he excels at music to softly sob to or, in the alternative, drown your sorrows with the alcoholic beverage of choice. One thing I don't want to change is the copious attention McGlynn gives to arrangements. Almost every song finds McGlynn adding things as the song goes on, not to show off, but to add to the power of the track. So songs that would be good with just McGlynn and his keyboards are made even better. Amongst all the bittersweet gems, there is some pure sweetness, as "No Time" has a bouncy ‘60s soft pop feel that's not quite Brian Wilson, not quite Burt Bacharch, but quite good. This is McGlynn's third release, and it is excellent. Buy this, live with it, and if you like it as much as I do, work your way back to the first one.

Mike at Copacetic Zine


The whole "singer-songwriter" thing is a tricky proposition for me, and most artists who fall into this category have their work cut out to win me over. Ian McGlynn manages this feat by creating very lush-sounding, keyboard-based pop songs. His closest contemporaries might be fellow keyboard-based acts like Keane and Aqualung, but what sets McGlynn apart is the strong 60s/70s influence that pervades the songs, which can recall Lennon/McCartney, Elton John, or, in the case of the track "No Time", early Chicago with Beach Boys harmonies. This retro bent is balanced by the production, which is very contemporary-sounding, thanks to producer Shane Tutmarc of local popsters Dolour. And tying it all together are McGlynn's earnest, weightless vocals and sad lyrics. Despite a misstep or two (the grating track "Carnivalism", for instance), this album gets on my good side.

Darren Susin at indieworkshop.com


At one time, completely under-utilized, the synthesizer makes more band appearances these days than the clarinet did in high school band. Every instrument seems to be throwing in some pearly whites into the musical mix and safe to say, there's a fair amount of bands who would do best to avoid such antics. However, Paris Hilton aside, Ian McGlynn's decision to employ whichever brand of synth into his repertoire and make it the stand out piece is thankfully a good decision. Unlike too many bands, the synth is comfortable in its surroundings, taking its place among McGlynn's aired-out pop vocals and some jazz-tappity drumming. McGlynn's melodies will set even the most rigid person into a foot tapping frenzy and to deny that Tomorrow's Taken is a significant musical achievement is just plain crazy.

'The Exception' starts off rather simple with synth backbeats, but it contains a vintage Robin Hood-inspired synth solo that catches the listener completely off guard. It sounds like a mandolin filtered through an acid-induced drug session and its easily the highlight of the song. The drums ring out like a vintage shotgun while McGlynn laments that 'you always look for someone to take the blame.' For lyrics that hint at lost loves and longing for the days of the past, the instrumentation McGlynn provides to these rather melancholy lyrics provides a somewhat brilliant contrast. 'How Did I Get Here' has Ben Folds all over it and the happy-go-lucky Hootie and The Blowfish era somehow finds its way into the song. I felt like a tie-dyed hippy dancing my face off at an old Gandharvas concert when I heard this song. 'Carnivalism' is exactly as it suggests, a rolling barrel of sounds and noises as McGlynn's vocals slide their way deep into the song. It's an eerie song; perhaps the album's strongest and great for those late nights when sleep is extinct. 'Be My Guide' induces a dance trance as the drum speed increases and McGlynn holds his notes twice as long. Kid A-era beats slide into the song, but McGlynn's vocals separate him from other mainstream acts. His vocals seem to float on like an extra instrument.

Bringing numerous other instruments into his tiny world of sound, McGlynn manages to avoid complete obscurity and a life of singing to empty coffee shops. McGlynn seems to make sense of the world; he sings about the sadness, but uses the music to bring himself back into the fold. Its a brilliant concept and one that many musicians could learn from. As the world marches itself into oblivion, look for the bald headed McGlynn on the edge of a cliff singing his heart out to people as they run around like the real madmen they are.

Garrett Johnson


Through the smoky haze that surrounds the airy piano-based opening ballad,
“Morning Prayer”, is the genius of Ian McGlynn. McGlynn is no newcomer to
the indie scene, though this is my first encounter, having been hooked up
through Tomorrow’s Taken producer and Dolour front man, Shane Tutmarc. The 11 songs on this release have a very clean and tidy production value,
lending itself to an alt-pop format. The mix keeps lush pianos and McGlynn’s
soft tenor in the foreground, and manages to highlight interesting
programmed percussion (“The Exception”) and bright synth arrangements (“No Time”). The passion and drama of Ian’s brooding “Southard Park” showcases the artistry that lies behind the best of rock ballads. I could do without some of the sound effects that open and tail-end some tracks, as well as the circus instrumentation (though however appropriate) on the clever
“Carnivalism”. Anyone interested in piano based college rock / alt-pop
ballads and is into hipster looped beats should give this a keen listen.
There is a strong pop sensibility to every song, and the closing “Turn Away”
is a worthy encore to an already strong album. One other track that I
shouldn’t leave without mention is “Here For Me And Not For You”. This song
illustrates that Ian has an ability to write timeless pop-ballads that
strike your core and reflect on the past, yet contain forward-thinking
twists in arrangement, production (obviously, Tutmarc is also to be
thanked), and ‘feeling’. Try Tomorrow’s Taken if you like Caedmon’s Call,
Dolour or Heather Duby.

Samuel Aaron


I have started and stopped this review more times then I care to admit, it is almost a struggle for me to put into words how I feel about Tomorrow's Taken because it is one of those albums that blew me away.

The music is nothing innovative, nothing new, and yet it flows and spreads out, consuming my ears in the simple beauty that singer/songwriter Ian McGlynn has created. The entire album is a blast of fresh air for a genre that badly needs it.

There is no truly standout track on this near masterpiece, but "Be My Guide" stands as my favorite song, with a slowly building, immediate beat to it, and hushed vocals that seem to guide it on a narrow path to whatever end...it has everything needed to be a radio hit.

I don't have much more to say, or more appropriately, I don't have the words I need to say what I think about this album. The best I can do is call this a near perfect example of pop music. Read my interview with him, that might explain things a little better.

Mike Farley


Ah, the sweet sound of surprise. With all the music I have to sift through on a weekly basis, it’s rare that something instantly moves me. But upon listening to the first track of Ian McGlynn’s Tomorrow’s Taken, that’s what happened. McGlynn has a way of merging 80s synth pop, jazz and lounge music, and churning out melodic brilliance. There are influences of 80s artists like A-Ha, Erasure and New Order here, drudging up feelings of nostalgia for anyone who grew up during that era.

The album opens with a song called “Morning Prayer,” and the best way I can describe it is as a male version of Sade. “You Might Understand” is dark yet poppy, and probably would have made McGlynn an MTV hero back in the day. “How Did I Get Here?” is an upbeat tune reminiscent of the Beatles, and “Carnivalism” is inventive and yet still interesting, ala Radiohead. “Be My Guide,” like the opening track, is simply mesmerizing, and “Turn Away” has a Beatles-meets-Oasis feel. And while all of this is going on, there is that distinct 80s pop flavor running throughout.

Forgive me for making this seem like a time warp, because I mean all of that as a sincere compliment. Too many of today’s artists are processed, chopped up and molded into perfect little portions of what the industry thinks the public wants. What they tend to forget is that you need good ingredients to make good food. Namely, it’s talent that makes for good records, and Ian McGlynn has that kind of talent, both as a singer and as a songwriter. With Tomorrow’s Taken, he has taken those ingredients and cooked up something special.