Serge Bielanko of Marah recommends Badly Drawn Boy

Serge Bielanko and Badly Drawn Boy

Serge Bielanko and Badly Drawn Boy

Serge Bielanko’s recommendation: “I’d say that Badly Drawn Boy and his record The Hour of Bewilderbeast move me more these days than much of anything else. I really can’t put my finger on it exactly, which is how it usually goes with the best stuff. It’s a combination of things, I think. The songs are beautiful and eloquent without even trying. And the music is this hodgepodge flea market of folk and pop, with magnificent clever beats and melodies. I can’t say enough about it really. There are a lot of songs on the record, something like 17 or 18, and that usually is a bad sign. Not here though. There isn’t any filler at all. None. Everything sort of flows together, songs ooze into other songs. I think it there might be magic spells hidden back behind the chords. Whenever I put it on, usually in the car, I see deer and rabbits and shit. Wild things come out of the forest. That doesn’t happen with most records, you know. I never had it happen when I played any other albums, so I quit listening to most of them.

I have never really admitted this to myself before, but I’m gonna do it here. Why not. I love this record maybe more than any record I have ever listened to. No lie. I find the whole damn thing inspiring and hopeful and pumped full of some kind of love that isn’t easy or free, but is worth it in the end. It isn’t a record to share with your friends while you sit around the kitchen table drinking beers and bullshitting. It’s more like a hundred dollar bill. You keep that shit in your wallet, it makes you happy/gives you a little peace of mind in a mad world. You don’t go flashing it around.

Does that make sense?

No?

Ok. Try this.

Badly Drawn Boy’s Hour of the Bewilderbeast is basically the soundtrack to meeting an old elf in a country pub and getting drunk with him out in the beer-garden, in the warm and pouring rain.”

Serge BielankoAbout our guest author, Serge Bielanko: The last we heard from Serge musically was in 2008 where he belted out stirring vocals (check Wilderness below) on Marah’s masterwork, Angels of Destruction!. He then moved out to Utah, became a Dad and showed us another side of his greatness through the incredibly well written dad-blog, Thunder Pie. (We here at Rocktorch.com also return to Serge’s great tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s right hand man, Terry Magovern (scroll down for Serge’s piece) every so often, just to remind ourselves that dreams really do freakin’ come true!). But now, Serge is back in the band, joining brother Dave and Christine Smith to set the music world straight and, to put it plainly, we can’t fuckin’ wait. Spy the rehearsal video below and catch one of the US shows in VA and PA before they go off and conquer Spain. Serge, welcome back!

MP3: Wilderness

Related links:

* Marah’s official site
* Dave Bielanko of Marah recommends Dexter Romweber
* Christine Smith of Marah recommends Waylon Jennings

Christine Smith of Marah carries a torch for Waylon Jennings

Christine Smith of Marah and Waylon Jennings

Christine Smith and Waylon Jennings

Christine Smith’s recommendation: “Waylon Jennings’ voice kills me. The first time I heard it, I stopped dead in my tracks. At first his voice made me slightly uncomfortable and I don’t even know why, but it really speaks to me. There’s so much pain and bad ass attitude in there. Even when it’s just a two chord song, there’s so much going on, coming on like a train, and the production is outstanding. Classic. Makes me wanna drink cheap whiskey!

I was even more blown away when Dave (co-member of Marah) told me that Waylon had played bass in Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets and was supposed to be on the plane that fateful night! They were best buddies, joking around when they spoke these final words: “I hope your car crashes” said Buddy. “I hope your plane crashes” said Waylon. It wasn’t until years later that Waylon began to establish himself as a solo artist. I think it’s miraculous that he kept going. He went through so much shit and you can hear it and feel it in all his music. He is a true country hero. God rest his soul.”

New to Waylon? Christine recommends you start here: Waylon Jennings – Greatest Hits on vinyl. We have a record bar here at Marah HQ and that record is always in heavy rotation. It will put you in a trance. Standout tracks: Luckenback, Texas, I’m a Ramblin’ Man, Honky Tonk Heroes, Mamas Don’t Let your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys (sung with Willie Nelson), Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.”

Christine SmithAbout our guest author, Christine Smith: Christine is the backing vocalist/multi-instrumentalist (go to a show to see her play keyboards, foot-tambourine and harmonica…all at once) and co-leader (Dave Bielanko clearly spells out her huge contributions here) of Marah, the Philly band whose die-hard fan base includes the likes of Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen. Dave and Christine most recently put out Life is a Problem, a self described “folked up mess of American Rock n Roll” that needs to find its way into your iTunes library. Christine also has made a fine solo record (Tomorrow Blues, described as “F***ing brilliant!” by Replacements bass player, Tommy Stinson) and right now is gearing up to hit the road with Marah and Jesse Malin for a series of Rock and Roll Christmas shows. Get in the spirit and buy a ticket! Show dates and locations are just a click away.

Marah 2008 – Santos de Madera DRESSING ROOM encore! from Portobello Music Society 3 on Vimeo.

MP3: Valley Farm Song by Marah from their new album, Life Is A Problem

David Bielanko of Marah carries a torch for Dexter Romweber of The Flat Duo Jets

David Bielanko and Dexter Romweber

David Bielanko and Dexter Romweber

The recommendation from David Bielanko, singer and guitarist for Marah: “Lately I’ve been listening to Dexter Romweber/The Flat Duo Jets a lot. Dexter is a channeler, a lot like Jerry Lee or Son House or some other such bad-ass. He’s so far into his own world that he’s nearly impossible to criticize or critique. On stage I’ve seen him and a drummer (Crow!) put audiences into a fevered devil trance, I’ve seen him play unrepeatable guitar parts and invert rhythms making two men sound like a train, like a blizzard. It would be easy for a novice to call him “retro” or “rockabilly” but fuck that, Dexter is a real punk, a rock n roller in the way that can’t be taught, a natural born killah. Check him out.”

The Source: Rock Torch Exclusive, 1/19/2010

More on: David Bielanko (of Marah) | Dexter Romweber

Editor’s Note: Marah was one of the bands that inspired me to start RockTorch.com in the first place (I found out about Marah by reading praise for the band from artists I love, saw them in Virginia and have been dragging friends to shows ever since), so this contribution from David is a huge honor. Viva Marah!