This year’s Sasquatch Festival was pretty much owned by the Beastie Boys. Not only did they play two sets, one instrumental and one pure hip-hop classics, but DJ Mix Master Mike also played two sets, and one set was performed by keyboardist Money Mark. Yes, the B-Boy family was in full effect, but a lot of Beastie fans left the Money Mark performance with quizzical looks on their faces. Despite the fact that Brand New By Tomorrow had been on the racks for three months, most were unfamiliar with his new ’70s singer / songwriter style of music. Part of that can be chalked up to a near six-year absence from the music scene, but most of it can be attributed to the fact that Money Mark is trying to make a niche for himself outside the realm of the trio of benefactors that saved him from a life of construction.
I’ll begin by saying that I never thought there would come a day when I’d review an album on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire label. Then again, I never thought I’d review something on Dave Matthews’ ATO label. The truth is, the lines between alternative and adult contemporary, jam bands and indie as well, are blurring. Who would have figured that My Morning Jacket and Gomez would ever hookup in any way with Dave Matthews? Well, Money Mark has made the jump to Brushfire, yet the only resemblance to Jack Johnson and his pals is an air of relaxation. Mark Ramos-Nishita, as he was born, has ditched, for the most part, the funky Jimmy Smith like Hammond sound for a more laid back Damon Albarn meets John Lennon style.
Take for instance the song, “Pretend to Sleep.” If ever there were a song that sounded like a follow-up track to “Julia,” this is it. Yet other songs sound like outtakes from Blur’s more `down to earth’ album, 13. Quite a few of the tracks actually feature more prominent guitar tracks than keyboards, much to the chagrin of the fans of his work on Ill Communication and Check Your Head. Overall, however, Money Mark proves he has a nice voice for indie singer / songwriter fare, and the contributions by Jack Johnson and G. Love aren’t as obvious as one would imagine. Mark proved to the Beasties that he was too funky to be a handyman, and now he’s proving to the rest of the world that he can be soulful, sensitive and a good songwriter as well as being the guy who brought you “Groove Holmes.”
Sean Lennon- Friendly Fire
Jon Brion- Meaningless
Video: “Pick Up the Pieces”