MARSDEN – Tune it Out
Marsden will celebrate the release of Tune it Out at the High Noon Saloon on Thursday, November 17th. Also appearing are Help Desk and the Regular Johns (Queens of the Stone Age tribute).
Tune it Out is available here.
Three years in the making, Tune it Out is the second release from multi-instrumentalist and 4 Aspirin Morning member Joe Marsden, who has also gone by J. Marsden and now just Marsden. Additionally, Marsden has joined Nashville-based the Cancellations, a group that originated in Madison. Rooted in 90s alternative rock, Marsden has expanded those elements, bringing an intimacy to reflections on the state of the world. He plays all the instruments and does all the vocals with some help from Lords of the Trident drummer Brett Walter whose contributions are significant. At his core, however, Marsden is a songwriter; there are no super-flashy solos or headbanging riffage, just solid tunes that are thoughtful, well-played and sonically sound.
“End on End” charges out of the gate with a nifty blend of acoustic and electric guitars, a tasty guitar solo and a catchy lyric bemoaning a world bleeding and an endless reality burnout. It sets the stage for the rest of the album which is not a concept album per se but one that has common themes.
In his blog, Marsden mentions how hard he worked on the bass parts and how he felt they were driving the songs. “Doubt” demonstrates what he’s talking about with the bass front and center.
The high energy of the title track is infectious. Released as the second single, it’s the centerpoint of the album lyrically: “My head is spinning around / It’s too damn loud / Turn down the TV / Makes me want to shout / What’s it about now? / This cycle’s getting vicious / I just want to tune it out.” Driving rhythm and a cacophony of guitars make it a standout.
The first single, “Running in the Dark” carries on, putting Marsden’s vocal abilities on display. The rhythm section is extremely tight here with the bass propelling the song forward while Marsden turns in an impressive guitar solo.
A more meditative song, “American Dream” puts all of Marsden’s frustrations front and center: Please wake me up from this American dream / It has become quite the nightmare it seems / To think that we could live like we were all kings and queens / Did freedom really grant such indulgent fantasies?” Marsden delivers a solo in a David Gilmour vein while the ending reflects the mass confusion of the day.
In a similar manner, “In This Zoo” invokes similar sentiments with primarily acoustic guitars and a marching snare. Halfway in it explodes into anger: “Sinking in / Surreal Surrounds / Taking medicine to bludgeon our senses / Won’t cure this anger at all.”
Like many recordings by multi-instrumentalists, things can get a little one-dimensional. All the solos on Tune it Out, by necessity, are guitar solos, for instance. Bringing in a few more contributors could alleviate some of that. But what Marsden has got is a heartfelt approach and plenty of recording acumen. He’s also very good at promoting; something a lot of artists struggle with. With Marsden there is a feeling that there is something epic just around the corner.