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Money Mark

Money Mark (aka Mark Ramos-Nishita) is perhaps best known for being the unofficial fourth Beastie Boy, and for his work with Beck and the Dust Brothers, but his solo work is nothing to sneeze at--Brand New By Tomorrow is his fourth record, and it showcases Money Mark's sound sense of jazz, soul and funk.

Money Mark is best at matching sound to feeling, and Brand New By Tomorrow is brimming with small brilliances: Wistful harmonica begins "Color of Your Blues," and after Money Mark sings the hook ("life is made up of all that you lose, can't even choose the color of your blues"), all of the instruments drop out, and all you can hear are crickets. The plinking keys on "Everyday I Die a Little" are an almost ironic twist on dive-bar blues ballads (they perk up this song instead of drowning it in weepiness), and the canned bossa-nova synthesizer beat on "Radiate Nothing" makes the song even more snide ("someday I'm gonna find someone to shine with 'cause you radiate nothing"). "Summer Blue" rolls with a fuzzy organ bass line, and Mark's vocals sound as if they're just above a whisper. The horns and shuffling drums on "Eyes That Ring" blend with Moog and make it sound drunk, and the title track, an understated pop lament, has the piano placed low in the mix.

Brand New By Tomorrow, released on Jack Johnson's label, has just the right amount of chill. Stable dynamics and retro-infused instrumentations make it sound like the kind of music Johnson only wishes he could write.

More by Annie Holub

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