SEED OF MAYHEM
MY YEARLIST 2007 - Johanna J. Bodde (RadioGirl, Insurgent Country/Radio Winschoten) #1 Album of the Year - Sean O'Brien, "Seed Of Mayhem" (First Cold Press) -www.myspace.com/seanobrienandhisdirtyhands
The real shame of Seed of Mayhem is that it's creator is one of the band of musicians that you're unlikely to discover unless you're either lucky or look very hard. A veteran of numerous Californian bands, including one described as "psychedelic cowboys", he has enjoyed a 25 year career making the very good, very solid rock that underpins Seed of Mayhem. He is a talented, insightful writer and a skilled and honest performer, best of all Seed of Mayhem is completely without pretension. There is a relentlessness about Sean O'Brien, he hits you with the power pop of This Could Hurt and then proceeds to hit you again and again. If nothing else, Seed of Mayhem will keep you on your toes. But within the framework of energy O'Brien throws up some very interesting shadows, Cleaner That Way is a dark and dank look at the world while Torn Sweater appears, at first, to be little more than whimsy, but in truth is a soulful hymn to growing older. As for Possum Ate The Cat Food (another meal) nothing else needs to be said. It would be easy to bracket Sean O'Brien as one of those musicians just too 'honest' to ever really court major success, but the way Seed of Mayhem develops beyond first listen, makes him an artist worth investigating further. Undoubtedly, Seed of Mayhem could have been nothing more than a fond nod to the past, that it is much more is testament to Sean O'Brien's talent. - The Berwick Advertiser / Berwickshire News (UK)
Sean O'Brien has a long history stretching back to the early 80s days of Davis, CA. He was the original singer in True West but was gone before they started recording. Since then he's been in a fair number of bands: Denim TV, The Mariettas - before settling down in the Bay Area in 2001 and making solo records. Seed of Mayhem is the second such, though it calls on the talents of a handful of excellent West Coast luminaries. The raucous opener "This Could Hurt", featuring the guitars of Russ Tolman (True West) and Manfred Hofer (Leaving Trains), sets a benchmark of fine playing, but this is truly varied record both instrumentally and stylistically. O'Brien takes all the guitars himself on the wicked, early-Sonic Youth-like "Stumblebum." "Dough See Dough" is a jaunty ska tune with horns and accordions, "The Bottom of The Toy Box" a gentler song with Cale-like vocals and cello embellishments from merlin Coleman. 'Damned Either Way" with pedal steel and the voice of Kim Martini is country-hued, while "Possum Ate The Cat Food", with tabla and tampoura, gives a nod to "Tomorrow Never Knows." O'Brien's a committed songwriter too. The strong, precise, neo-con-damning "Cleaner That Way" and the final "A Bee's Tale" show an exploring intelligence that's been waiting for a wider audience. - Nick West - Rock 'N Reel Magazine (UK).
Seed of Mayhem features 14 gritty tunes from the land of late-night losers wrapped in a rough-and-tumble package of hard-edged music. O’Brien’s roots lie in the California rock scene. He got his start in Davis, Calif. combos, including True West and its precursor Meantime – a moodier step brother to Paisley Underground bands like the Dream Syndicate. Indeed, ‘Seed of Mayhem’ is as good as anything Steve Wynn has done lately – which is to say it’s very, very good. O’Brien’s worked with ex-Angry Samoan Greg Turner, and served alongside members of Baby Lemonade, the Leaving Trains and in The Mariettas and Denim TV. A few of them appear on the album, providing ace (and deceptively diverse) instrumental and vocal support. O’Brien’s tense vocals set the mood for ‘This Could Hurt’ a sharp tune distinguished by the guitar work of O’Brien, True West’s Russ Tolman and Leaving Trains axeman Manfred Hofer (Trains alum and Hofer brother Tom plays bass). The grumbling lyrics of ‘This Could Hurt’ can keep company with the Hold Steady’s and the Flaming Stars. After a trio of coiled and gritty tunes, O’Brien changes the pace with a series of detours, starting with the acoustic number ‘The Bottom of the Toybox’ featuring nicely fingerpicked guitar and cello. ‘Damned Either Way’ adds some country flourishes, including pedal steel courtesy of Red Meat’s Max Butler. The choogling scree of ‘Tranny Ignored’ gets points alone for the timeless couplet "I don’t care how you piss/ As long as you do". ‘Dough See Dough’ takes a playful twist with its accordion and trumpet. ‘Possum Ate The Cat Food’ unleashes some more of Tolman’s distinctive leadwork, backed by flavourful Indian percussion and strings. A winner from start to finish, ‘Seed of Mayhem’ is recommended to anyone who likes the tougher side of powerpop, or the solo work of artists like Steve Wynn and Kim Salmon. - Andrew Carver - Pennyblack music (UK).
In the first instance the name of Sean O'Brien didn't mean anything to me. After some searching on the Internet it turned out that O'Brien had sniffed around the edges -if not right in the middle- of the Paisley Underground Scene. Then a bell rings in my head for sure and names of notable bands from the eighties, like The Bangles, Green On Red, The Long Ryders and The Dream Syndicate pop to the surface. O'Brien has been hiding out in San Francisco's Bay Area for the past years. Sometime in 2001 his solo debut album "Too Personal" was released. Polly Klemmer (The Mistaken) and no one less than Russ Tolman did a few guest appearances on that album. Between the lines I also read that you can assume O'Brien is on good terms with Steve Wynn. On O'Brien's second album "Seed Of Mayhem" (2006) he gathered a working band around him. The Dirty Hands are Jeff Kane on lead guitar, Bill Davis on bass and Matt Shelley on drums. I read that they are all pals from the past and it sounds like... Yes, indeed Paisley Underground. "Seed Of Mayhem" is not an easy to understand record for beginners. To put it mildly, at first even this dinosaur had a little trouble comprehending it all. This West Coast pop and garage rock duels with sixties countryrock, from the Byrds up to and including the sturdy rattle of Crazy Horse. Not all tracks speak to my imagination, looking back I have to confess that. But the others bring back old memories and that's something else indeed. So it seems that O'Brien sings off-key but in songs like "Eyewear" and "Cleaner That Way" everything falls into place and the good old days are cherished. When it comes to the lyrics, O'Brien raids the streets and scores a free newspaper from a streetbox every now and then. He wants to shout from the rooftops about all the injustice, but nobody hears him. All of it is typical and it is all rebellion from the eighties. In short, O'Brien honors with the release of "Seed Of Mayhem" the Paisley Underground genre and in that the alleged founder, Michael Quercio (The Three O'Clock). But you have to learn and understand it first, otherwise you will sadly miss the essence of this psychedelic rock record. Actually, I am already curious how the successor "Goodbye Game" will turn out later this year. (Jan Janssen)- Real Roots Cafe - The Netherlands - translated by Johanna Bodde.
A solid collection of songs (with great cover art!) from a seasoned likable Californian - Sean O’Brien has been knocking around in bands in California for the best part of a couple of decades. He has released solo efforts before, as well as been part of records by The Mistaken and The Mariettas. His style is rooted in early 80s alternative, so think ‘Murmur’ REM, but, oddly enough, with a hint of prog thrown in, so there’s rather more noodly guitar than you might expect from an REM comparison. Though the performances and the writing are not exactly ground breaking, there is something likable about Sean. He’s got a groove that he’s good at, as proved on ‘Stumblebum’, or the poppy ‘The Good Fight’, but he’s not afraid to venture a long way from it to explore different ideas, not that they always come off, but the willingness to try is an admirable quality. Oddest venture is ‘Dough See Dough’ which sounds like a German omm-pah band playing ska, not one that’s scoring heavily on repeat plays so far! Other songs, according to Sean, are variously influenced by Nick Drake, Charlie Mingus, the Beatles and Television (as in ‘Marquee Moon’), that’s a fairly large pool to be fishing in! This is a decent record of solid if slightly retro songs. He is currently working on a new record with his working band, the Dirty Hands.(While this is a music review, as an aside to the main topic, the painting used as coverart for this CD is by Sean’s brother Liam, and it is really something. It’s a picture of the O’Brien’s grandparents painted with nods to Edward Hopper, and Grant Wood’s iconic ‘American Gothic’, but with very much its own life, and a haunting, slightly Hitchcockian, atmosphere. Even though this is a portrait of sorts, as happens with Hopper, it’s the sort of picture to which you start to add your own narrative, as if it’s a film still. Extraordinarily impressive.)- Patrick Wilkins - Americana UK - 7 out of 10 rating.
This Bay area singer/songwriter apparently spent time with now-reunited Paisley Underground favorites True West; in fact, their guitarist Russ Tolman stopped by to contribute some backing vocals and guitar. But what drew my attention was the presence of the Hofer brothers from the first-two-albums Leaving Trains. Tom basses on roughly half of Seed, and guitarist Manfred appears twice and cowrote another. But this is really O'Brien's show, and unlike last year's acoustic Too Personal, Seed is full-band, fully arranged pop and rock. The rock stuff is what I prefer; it's like the aforementioned mixed with Rolling Stones and Green on Red. The light pop stuff is less edgy. But whatever the style, O'Brien has a tangy voice not far from John Doe's, and the guitars of the better songs, such as ³Tranny Ignored,² do the business. (firstcoldpressbiz.org) - The Big Takeover - Issue #59
Sean O'Brien is a veteran in the land of independent music. For the past twenty five years he played in a whole lot of Californian bands, like power pop quartet Meantime, psychedelic True West, Denim TV and at last powerful punkpop quartet The Mariettas. For a few years now O'Brien is going solo (with accompanying band The Dirty Hands) and he released a second solo record, "Seed Of Mayhem". Various tracks here still go back to the Marietta era, but this album is even more -when it comes to style and themes- a reflection of his versatile career and even more versatile taste. O'Brien gets his inspiration from approximately the whole poprock spectrum. "This Could Hurt" is glamrock, inspired by Iggy Pop, "Stumblebum" has surf guitar, there's psychedelic music on "Possum Ate The Catfood" (a try to catch the spirit of "Tomorrow Never Knows"), noiserock from the garage ("Tranny Ignored"), a middle-of-the-road little steel guitar in "Damned Either Way", ska with trumpets and accordion in "Dough See Dough", "Torn Sweater" is a Television hommage - it goes on and on. Not every exercise in style is successful. Mainly because of the whimsical vocal capacities of O'Brien, here and there grinding off-key indeed. Nevertheless, his timbre is pleasant and in that real strong "Eyewear" everything just adds up fine. In his lyrics O'Brien fights - a labor lost?- against capitalism and neo-cons. "7.5" is about the timesheet he has to fill out every week, in order to get his salary - living off the music isn't possible after twenty five years, not yet or not anymore? "Cleaner That Way" is a tune from the perspective of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, but then without editing by the spin doctors. But he lets his toddler daughter sing a line in the cynical spleen - that's not brainwashing of course, as it's clear that O'Brien himself is one of the good guys. - (GvA) - File Under: Whimsical exercises in style - FileUnder, The Netherlands (www.fileunder.nl)
The name Sean O'Brien doesn't really have to mean anything to you, unless you maybe know a short-lived band like TRUE WEST from Davis, Ca, which emerged at the beginning of the 1980s in the context of L.A.'s Paisley Underground. Information about O'Brien's actual relationship with TRUE WEST only exists in very cryptic form – in relatively insignificant bands like DENIM TV, whose Russ Tolman plays guitar on some songs on O'Brien's album. Surely the most notable from "Seed of Mayhem", a generally average (also means fair or mediocre) singer-songwriter record, which is absolutely pleasant to hear, contains continual melodic and psychedelic high-points and becomes more intimate and better with time – the more so as the whole is always reminiscent of Paisley Underground bands like RAIN PARADE or THE LONG RYDERS and stirring sound, which is regrettable as the songwriting is always infused with original and cliché-free ideas. Even if something unnamable seems to be missing – probably a real leitmotif or a more tenable total artistic vision, which really stays in your head. © Thomas Kerpen - Ox magazine #76 - Germany - (translation by Phil Butland).
The list of bands, to which Sean O’Brien from sunny California has given sound [ok, that’s bad English but I can’t think of an equivalent term at the moment] is so long that it would burst some telephone books. Even after O’Brien formed his own band Sean O’Brien and His Dirty Hands in 2006, he has always had extra material available for solo albums, like for example what we have here. Here also is the firmest Indie rock – strengthened with pervasive singer / songwriter elements. O’Brien is a humorous observer with a propensity for a melancholy note. No surprise, that he cites Nick Drake (and Charles Mingus) as an inspiration for his song The Bottom Of The Toy Box". O’Brien is neither a folkie nor a jazzer – he avoids simple clichés in his songs, whereby they always drift off into unexpected areas. In their best moments, Pearl Jam manage this – but O’Brien does it consistently. As he on the other hand also likes Nick Lowe, as his mate Jeff Kane persuaded him to play in his Nick Lowe cover band Trouble Boys, as a reward for playing on his new album. Anyway: a little variety doesn’t hurt, and in any case the disk has a humorous undertone – despite the threatening energy. “Seed of Mayhem” has become a noteworthy, self-confident, and good functioning, contemporary rock disk – along the way with a quite specific sound. Full stop. - Ullrich Maurer - Gaesteliste.de online magazine - Germany (translation by Phil Butland).
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Californian singer Sean O’Brien is not a newcomer in the musical scene. Having been the front man of several California based rock-groups & having played all kinds of genres from punk-pop to Americana, the man certainly know his way around. For his second solo album, Seed of Mayhem, O’Brien needed some time (6 years to be precise). The result is a collection of songs that span a series of genres and styles and references names like Iggy Pop, Charles Mingus, Nick Drake, Television, Nick Lowe and many others. As you can guess now this is not a standard Americana or country album, let alone it is has something to do with Rockabilly Music, but still musically this album holds a couple of pearls that are worth mentioning and will easily fit in your Americana or Singer Songwriter collection. O’Brien gives us 14 tales based on his live experiences. Songs he has written over the years, during the many phases he went through. Written and composed under the influence of the different bands he was playing with, these tunes are a collection of his live so far. “Damned Either Way” is far above the best tune on the album. It does have a recognizable sound, and comes with catchy lyrics. According to Sean O’ Brien this is Nashville Stuff. Tranny Ignored, is about San Francisco and the way people dress up. Transvestites of course. The tune is based on a country, Rockabilly riff, but is delivered as proto punk song. Dough See Dough, a tune with rather cryptic lyrics, is based on a bluebeat /ska rhythm, but O’ Brien mixes this beat with a Polka like accordion and some saxes. The result is some upbeat ska/polka like Jazz tune. When listening to his tunes it becomes unmistakably clear that Sean O’Brien does have a political agenda as well. Or a least a political ideology he want to share with his listeners and audience. Many tunes references the political situations in the US, the Middle East, but on “Cleaner That way” it is spelled out for you once more, and in case you had any doubts about his ideas, this one takes away all uncertainties. Seeds of Mayhem is not the best solo album I heard recently but as a singer songwriter, the man still comes with a vision and a message and this is something I really enjoy in an album these days. The fact that the album references many bands I was into as a teenager makes it all the more interesting along the way, but I have to say, that even years later I do favor the originals instead of the followers! - Pat - Billybop - Belgium
Sean O'Brien has been circling around the Paisley Underground scene for about 20 years. Playing in bands such as Meantime, Denim TV and, most notably, True West. He recorded his first album under his own name in 2001 and here's his follow-up. As his first solo-album was more acoustically oriented this one's surely wired. Well, not to misinform anyone; it's simply solid a rock album and not unplugged. From the get-go of "This Could Hurt" it's not hard to hear where he's coming from, which makes it very interesting to know where he's going further down the track-list. The jangling lead guitar on "Stumblebum" (gets me thinking of The Church) and the steady riff of "7.5" surely moves onward. As the album serves us 14 songs, I would not be sorely offended if he'd skipped "Possum Ate the Cat Food" and "Torn Sweater", both which doesn't sit well with me. On the other side, there are many highlights that cover well for them. The sweetness and depth of "Cleaner That Way", the catchy "Damned Either Way" and the sheer fun of "Dough See Dough" makes for a record that I'll gladly reach for later.- Copyright © 2008 - Anders Svendsen - Luna Kafe e-zine.
This American artist was, during the past twentyfive years, lead singer of about ten groups from the area around San Francisco, California. Sean O'Brien released this "Seed Of Mayhem" already in 2006 for the American market. His first solo CD was mainly acoustic "Too Personal" from 2001. He has since formed a new group under the name Sean O'Brien and His Dirty Hands (with Jeff Kane, Bill Davis and Matt Shelley). At the beginning of this year they will present their first CD, titled "Goodbye Game". While waiting for that, we will introduce this singer-songwriter with his latest release (recently sent to us), the second solo album "Seed Of Mayhem". The music on this album sounds a bit like The Flaming Groovies or Rockpile. Fairly good arranged pop and folkrock songs, following each other at the speed of an express train. Every now and then slowed down somewhat and then we can listen to rather well written ballads, like "Damned Either Way (electric)" and "Eyewear". Fourteen songs are featured on this CD, of which twelve new ones and two remakes of songs, that could also be found on his first solo album. The guitars scream on the first track "This Could Hurt", in "Tranny Ignored" and "7.5". After that the softer countryrock prevails in "The Good Fight" and "She Wonders" and vocally slightly inferior tracks "The Bottom Of The Toy Box" and "Torn Sweater". "Dough See Dough" is a street musician polka, even with accordion, but gets stuck soon due to the weak singing and can't really appeal. "Possum Ate The Cat Food (another meal)" took its mustard from the sound of The Stranglers, but becomes second to the original soon. The best songs can be found at the very end of this record: the guitar ballad "Cleaner That Way" and "A Bee's Tale", that ripples on slowly for 7.5 minutes. Mixed feelings about the efforts delivered, is the best description for my review of "Seed Of Mayhem". - Valère Sampermans - Rootstime - Belgium
(2 out of 5 stars) On startpage reviews: Like Nick Cave, doing the birdies dance - In Dough See Dough Sean O'Brien sounds like Nick Cave doing the birdies dance. An unprecedented tedious little keyboard tune with hell and damnation vocals on top of it. Peculiar. And Seed Of Mayhem had already started with a few feints. The first couple of experiments are power wave. Very impetuous and aimless. When Seed Of Mayhem leaves the breast food behind, it becomes more quiet and it seems like The Stranglers have fitted themselves with a country sound. That is many times more pleasant than the frightening start. It is something different but I'm asking myself if I can get used to this. - Patrick Donders - Hanx Magazine - The Netherlands
Some clever fella has compared Sean O'Brien's voice to the one of a young Johnny Cash, but let me tell you right away that nobody and I mean nobody sounds like Johnny Cash. That man was the definition of cool! But although Sean O'Brien is far from being the definition of cool (and I bet ya he isn't trying to be either), I must admit that he has written some pretty good songs on "Seed of Mayhem." We're talking cousy rock music. Sometimes electric, sometimes more folksy and singer/songwriter-ish, but always heartfelt and present. - Past and Present Magazine
Sean O'Brien and His Dirty Hands - If you like the grittier side of folk rock with just a touch of twang, you will certainly appreciate the music of this band! The songs on the Seed of Mayhem CD range from slow, pretty ballads to fuzzy guitar-laced rockers that fans of George Harrison or Neil Young will surely love! - David Bash - from the program for the International Pop Overthrow Festival 2006.
Bay Area troubadour Sean O'Brien, the former singer for both True West and Denim TV, recently finished recording his second solo album, a collection of paisley-tinged garage gems called "Seed of Mayhem." The album is due out shortly, and O'Brien has already been booked to play at next month's International Pop Overthrow festival. Get an earful of "Seed of Mayhem" now at http://www.myspace.com/seanobrienandhisdirtyhands - Bill Picture - POP BEAT - San Francisco Chronicle - July 2, 2006.
Seed Of Mayhem is the second solo album by former True West, Denim TV and Mariettas vocalist Sean O’Brien. The album includes twelve original songs and remakes of two songs from O’Brien’s first solo album. The music on Seed Of Mayhem is basically simple alternative rock with a bit of a garage-rock rawness to the guitars on tracks like “This Could Hurt.” The music is played fine, but the songs are not very catchy, a lot of the riffs sound the same, and nothing stands out as innovative or original. O’Brien’s vocal performance is decent; he sounds good enough to sing, but not sing very well. Lyrically the album is pretty simple, not catchy, and a bit on the goofy side. Overall: Not terrible, but not particularly good raw alternagarage rock. - Graham Bailey - pucknationdot.com
Originating from the Davis, California bay area, singer Sean O’Brien has risen from and survived the ashes of several 1980’s bands, most famously being the relatively unknown True West. Almost and unfortunately unsurprisingly his second solo album ‘Seed Of Mayhem’ is from the off a non starter and an album that isn't rewarded by repeated listening. The band that accompanies him is that of a standard soft rock boarding on folk outfit that is little short of directionless under the command of O’Brien with the end result being fourteen tracks of below average pub music. Flitting between extremes of safely edgy electric guitar in the opening tracks ‘This Could Hurt’ and ‘7.5’ which sounds like an ill advised stumble down memory lane with the ironic lyrics “Won't you ever show me something new”, ironic because there is nothing new about O’Brien’s music. The opening tracks have a slap dash thrown together feel which is representative of the majority of the album and does nothing to encourage further listening. After the initial opening rock feel of ‘Seed Of Mayhem’ O’Brien opts for a folk rock style which is not only more considered, soft, natural and confident but also suits his style and plays to his vocal abilities with ‘The Bottom Of The Toy Box’ and ‘Damned Either Way (electric)’ as does the soft country rock (albeit for those with a limited imagination) of ‘The Good Fight’ and ‘She Wonders’. Throughout the album, but far more pronounced here, is an annoying sense of being older and far wiser than those listening to his album. In many ways this may be true but by this point it’s all wearing a bit thin and comes across as patronizing. It’s extremely easy to lose track of what you’re listening to and exactly where you are throughout ‘Seed Of Mayhem’ thanks to O’Brien’s grating voice and rambling thoughts. After rock, folk and a few curios ventures thrown in between for good measure, we now approach O’Brien’s spiritual awakening phase...and like the rest of the album it’s not pretty. ‘Possum Ate The Cat Food (another meal)’ (its not enough that the music is bad but the song titles, as well as ‘Stumblebum’ and ‘Tranny Ignored’ leave a lot to be desired and yes that is important) with a Doors style guitar and drum intro that could herald the start of an Indian summer mixed with distorted vocals leave you wondering when the lizard king will make his grand appearance, then leave you wondering if he’s serious, before the slow realisation that he’s nothing but serious seeps in. 'Eyewear’ follows and we move from the late sixties through to the early seventies with more of the same basic lame musicianship. After some more ranting in ‘Torn Sweater’ (“Don't sew up the hole in my torn sweater”) and we finally see some light at the end of a very long tunnel, ending, not before time, with ‘A Bee’s Tale’ which is surprisingly the best song on the album, although its still not great, too little too late and over seven minutes long. In short, there’s no mayhem here, not even a hint of it, no seed is sewn and the whole experience leaves you feeling nothing short of confused, numb and mildly annoyed. Listen at your peril, miss at your leisure. - Huw Jones - Whisperin' and Hollerin' - (UK)
Nice mostly acoustic stuff from this Bay Area dude who wrangled True West’s Russ Tolman to play guitar on one track. I liked this a lot more than the electric material I have heard by him. “Free of Deceit” is my fave here. - Dagger Online review - October 2007
Sean O’Brien comes to us from the Bay Area in California with his first solo project, Too Personal. Prior to this endeavor, he has been a member of bands that span a great distance in musical genres. Little of these previous influences are seen in his debut, except for the appearances from his previous band mates, Polly Klemmer from The Mistaken and Russ Tolman from True West. Miss Klemmer plays piano on a few tracks, while Tolman brings along his acoustic guitar. With this album, O’Brien is trying to take on a personal approach that is stripped down and raw. His voice, with moments hinting at a young Johnny Cash, is the driving force behind each of the fourteen tracks that are backed by little more than an acoustic guitar. With songs like “The Hatred Shop” and “Flag and Rifle,” this is not your average happy-go-lucky pop album. The quality is consistent with what I would expect from a self-recorded album that features, primarily, one man and his acoustic guitar. It is clear but still resonates with that untreated, rough feel that adds to the intimacy of the album. However, I had to turn up the volume a few times as I progressed through each song, and at times the music would overpower the vocals that seemed to be fading away. The style approached by O’Brien can feel a little repetitive and dry at times. With the simplistic music, he asks the listener to focus on the lyrics and let the music float in the background. His words are often few but hinting at greater issues from love to political. However, I feel like his songs lack the clever arrangement and choice of words that have made some of his influences great. Instead his lyrics come across as forced, rather than sinking in slowly to grab the listener. Overall, the closer I get to the end, the more I feel turned off and almost annoyed by both the words and the delivery. I feel as though he bites off more than he can chew and focuses more on making a point rather than good music with a deeper meaning. It is possible to make a statement and put together quality material at the same time. At this point, it feels more like he’s trying too hard and that the album is anything but too personal. - Lisa Town - Left of the Dial - 5/30/05
THE MARIETTAS - 12
Hardly new, having been released back in 1999, The Mariettas’ 12 is at best a tuneful, fuzzed-out LA punk rock album that may have you thinking of X or Glen Danzig. At its worst, it’s merely a foot-tapper. There’s the occasional sex talk, but it’s all in good fun. Besides, these guys seem too nice. But whatever, they’ve got a great song in “Tide of Chaos,” which just about validates the entire record with five and a half minutes of Manfred Hofer guitar bliss – with all his screeching and wailing he practically makes it sing. Sean O’Brien sounds good here, too. Too often he sounds like Mike Patton playing it straight (and flat). On “Crash,” by and far his best vocal performance, he channels Jello Biafra to great effect, and you wish he did it more often. “Sexcon” seems like the album’s overt pop song, but it’s not as good as “Pure Substance,” which rips, to be sure. “The Wheel” is the album’s lone curve-ball, with drummer, Doyle Dean adding some wonderfully goofy high-pitched vocals to a passionate ‘70s rock send-up. Are these guys still around? - Gary Knight - Left of the Dial -7/11/05
L.A. based, The Mariettas have rejected California sunshine pop for something considerably edgier on 12, the band’s 15 track debut. Not that they’ve sacrificed hooks and choruses for the extra bite, indeed 12 is as catchy as anything else you’ll hear all year, but you have to get past some sharp guitars and Sean O’Brien’s asymmetric vocal, which is pitched somewhere between that pompous bastard from Spandau Ballet and Iggy Pop, no less. Quite a combination, and I won't lie to you, one that takes some getting used to, but once you’ve been won over, you’ll discover that 12 is home to some real treats. Lyrically, a strain of dark humour runs throughout songs like Pull An Elvis, Sexcon and Crime Spree (check out the video if you can - a four minute definition of black humour, with extra violence on the side!), so expect the occasional guilty smile to play across your lips. Actually, it’s no surprise that The Mariettas deliver, the quartet of Sean O’Brien, Henry Liu, Manfred Hofer and Doyle Dean, between them, have played in some first rate bands like Baby Lemonade, Nymphs, Leaving Trains, True West, Denim TV and even Arthur Lee’s Love. Impressed? I was! (7)- Rob Forbes - LUKE Magazine - February 2001 -(UK)
Listen closely to the debut album from the Mariettas, and not only will you hear this L.A.-based band's music, but you'll also pick up the unmistakable strains of the band member's previous outfits, which is saying something. Among them, local boys Manfred Hofer and Henry Liu and out-of-town transplants Sean O'Brien and Doyle Dean have played for the likes of the Leaving Trains, the Nymphs, Dead Fairy, Baby Lemonade, Arthur Lee, Love, True West, Denim TV, Cinecyde, and Hippodrome. So on Twelve, joyful melodies balance sometimes distorted guitars; alternately up-tempo and plodding beats confront hot-rod and surf-guitar rumble; punk rock fury dissolves into haunting rhythms; psychedelia dips into lonely troubadour twang; and over it all, O'Brien's jagged, whiskey- and Quaalude-drenched vocals weave a disconcerting spell. It's the aural equivalent of a Spaghetti Western as seen through a peyote haze -- full of bravado and swagger, yet still ambivalent and decidedly bent. Often, there's an easy, rambling quality to it that's deceptive. Low-key rolling rhythms run into strains of blissed-out and jangly pop verging on hysterical frenzy, both of which only slightly veil the album's seedy noir-ish attitude, its ever-present potential for violence. Producer Eric Westfall (Chris Cacavas, Chuck Prophet, Gin Blossoms, Leaving Trains) has helped navigate similar terrain many times before, but never has the landscape been infused with such gleeful nihilism. These songs aren't just comfortable in their despair, they celebrate it. It's not whiny, angst-ridden, or even angry, for that matter. O'Brien's lyrics show a man who accepts chaos and who's willing to reveal -- though unwilling to indulge -- his own dark side. On "Crime Spree," O'Brien sweetly (and repeatedly) orders the listener to "pick up the gun" before finishing his statement with "we will have a lot of fun." The song's obvious sarcasm cushions the truth of the refrain but doesn't obliterate it. "Weaving Down the Street," with its cheerful chorus of "I know where the world will end/I even know the date/I know you're disappointed with my lack of amazing feats/But I won't be complete until I'm found weaving down the street" is odd but not nonsensical; it's free-associating in self-aware melancholia. "Sexcon" pokes fun of those how-to-pick-up-chicks seminars ("I'll give you a hand with your sexual confidence, man/You look like you could use a hand/Repeat after me/I adore thee/Now take off your clothes/Like you planned to") while also making fun of the singer's own lack of desire (repeatedly announcing "I just don't want anything"). It's all quite devastating stuff, made persuasive because it spares no one, not even itself -- and yet the humor that runs throughout keeps the disc enjoyable - Sabrina Kaleta - NEW TIMES - Los Angeles, CA - 2/10/00.
Jet propelled rockers with wailing guitar rub shoulders with thoughtful, brooding slower numbers on 12 by The Mariettas. The one consistent element, the uptight clever lyrics, is the least enjoyable part of an album that in songs like "Tide Of Chaos" and "The Darkest Girl" shows just how good it could all be if they'd just let themselves go a bit. An original and interesting album that's worth hearing. - Clint Thigh - Bucketful of Brains #55 - (UK)
This Los Angeles based band has shared the bill with the likes of Eve 6 and Din Pedals. Their/pop/rock style has sort of a T-Hip flavor to it, incorporating amusing lyrics. Track #11 (Katie Wore the Patches Low) has a catchy melody that will stick in your head. Each of The Mariettas has an extensive musical background and it's reflected in their work. - Carol Tamburo - Big Heavy World
Cred report: B+. The Mariettas feature members of the Nymphs, True West, Baby Lemonade, and the Leaving Trains. Singer Doyle Dean's intentionally strained, high-pitched vocal style stands out above rollicking three-chord progressions and distinctly '80s Jangle Pop-influenced songs. Oh nostalgia.... - Kelly Bauman - Listen.com
vgwendolynd (11/21/02) Awesome first effort from these Cali rockers. Blazing guitar and smart lyrics. Like the Buzzcocks on mescaline. Oh, wait, maybe the Buzzcocks were on mescaline... - Half.com customer
Garageband.com - "Cactus Embrace"
Fucking Brilliant ! Excellent mix, levels perfectly balanced. Very well recorded, fucking hell, great great mix. Arrangement is very very interesting love the break around 2 min. Excellent, this belongs in the top league of Garageband. Excellent hawaii styley guitars in the background. Thank you. Good luck. - The_Purves - Smidstrup, Hvalsø, Denmark
Review 15 - I like the feel of the song, I really like the guitar, I really like the changes in the song, more songs need this. The vocals sound alot like Jim Morrison, which is not a bad thing. The bass great too. All around you are very solid. Everyone is doing somehing different, thats why it sounds so good. You all mesh very well, I can tell you have chem. Great Job...- BreakingFaith - Granite City, Illinois
Steve Ison - Independent Artists Company - Dark, tremeloed open desert spaciousness and intrigue....The sinister heartland of mythic Americana...Listen to that bass! The drama! The amazing tremeloed guitar..This song's a movie all to itself..