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Album Review

The 2000 release Around the Year With Joe, Marc's Brother is the rarest of things: a straightforward rock & roll album heavy on melody and devoid of pretension. With pop music becoming increasingly segregated from rock, Joe, Marc's Brother shamelessly bridges the gap with heartfelt ballads, surf rock, and quirky jazz-pop. "Catchy" is the buzzword here, with sunny rockers like "Ready to Change" and "Underwater" that are immediately accessible without sounding simple. "Spinning on an Axis" is one of the feel-good highlights, complete with handclaps and a chorus that dares the listener not to sing along. "Sleep My Friend" begins as a lullaby, but is far too explosive and infectious for anyone to sleep through. The album's masterpiece, though, is the wistful "Hide Away," which features only the voice and acoustic guitar of frontman Joe Pisapia and some faint background vocals. Some of the songs are hindered by awkward lyrics that struggle to fit into their allotted space, notably "Spinning on an Axis" and "A Hate Story," but the strength of their melodies usually carry them through. The vocal harmonies and guitar work remain superior throughout the album, while the capable production of Brad Jones, Robin Eaton, and Roger Moutenot is offbeat enough to reward multiple listens, but never overshadows the music itself.


Formed: 1993

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Joe, Marc's Brother started their musical career in New Jersey, where Joe Pisapia and his brother (you guessed it) Marc grew up playing in various bands and developing a quirky, organic style influenced by the Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, and the Flaming Lips. Along with Steve Ward, the Pisapias recorded The Pennsylvania Sessions in 1993, and although the album wouldn't be made available to the public until 2001, Nashville producer/manager/critic Rick Clark ended up with a copy and convinced the brothers...
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Around the Year With, Joe, Marc's Brother
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