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Marxy – Kyushu Nostalgia

Beekeeper Records, 2004

Brand new.  Fifty cents.  Giant cat playing the piano.  Either this record was going to be an epically excellent find or a trap for bargain CD hunters.  Man, I’ve fallen into too many traps in my searches so I was really hoping this was going to be a good one.  Since it was wrapped I had nothing to go on aside from the cover and the back cover.  Would you know that the back cover had, ah, two cats playing the piano?  No track listing, no band information … just cats.  Well, when only two quarters stand between me and my curiosity you know what’s going to win out.

Marxy is actually a nickname/moniker for W. David Marx, who is an American musician and writer that happens to reside in Japan.  I have to say, that’s quite a background!  Instead of dragging the rough and tumble American rock Marx opts to infuse all sorts of pop elements into his music.  He also doesn’t wish to stop at straight pop tunes and is prone to be a bit random in his attention.  This can prove to either be a nice, casual listening experience or a head shaking one.

The songs on the record are primarily sung by Marx, but “Make It Through Today” utilizes the light vocals of Miho Takashima.  This only adds some true Japanese cred to the album even if her voice isn’t particularly strong.  It doesn’t have to be with some of these lightweight tracks, since Marx is definitely going for as soft as possible on hugworthy pop songs like “Let’s Be On Our Way” and “Ashika Love”.  Honestly, with his keyboards and precious composition choices, I would be astounded if Marx hasn’t considered trying out the children’s TV show music circuit over there in Japan.

To highlight the randomness of this pop experience, the third track (written in Japanese … but let’s just title it “Game Over”) is a short bit involving an 8-bit gaming experience that doesn’t end well for the player.  That’s it.  Then there’s the ‘oooooh’ outtake track that doesn’t make it to thirty seconds and “Be In Eleven-Eight, Man”, which is pure nonsense.  Although these have to be better than those skits on hip hop records, they’re not much more than filler.

Check out all the rest of the stuff by W. David Marx on his website, which has his discography as well as a few tunes to listen to.

As cute as Marxy’s music is, I can’t help but feel that this is an incomplete album.  It probably has a lot to do with those short ditties and interludes, because even though there are twelve listed tracks only five of them last past two minutes.  It’s almost as if Marxy couldn’t stand to merely create something that could be listed as an EP, so extra bits were thrown in to technically extend the record into a full album.  Oh please.

I do like the music and approach of Marx’s effort, though, and those Japanese artists (even if they’re from America) always intrigue me with what they’re thinking of next.  Marx has released a few more records past this one but nothing since 2008, but if one goes by the three year rule there is still hope he may have something else in store.  Yes, I’m making up the three year rule, but I have to say that it’s a good point of reference to determine if there’s more to come or the artist is done.  C’mon Marxy, break out some more cats.

Addendum:  I will say that Marxy’s “Cat vs. Mouse” from their most recent release is actually quite good, so go check it out if you want a more electronic pop experience.

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