PRESS FOR AN EAR TO THE EARTH
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: CD OF THE WEEK “This is music to drink to. Not to get drunk to, but to have on while you’re gabbing with your mates, while you’re sitting watching your kids play in the shallows and maybe even while knitting in the lodge. There’s a loose, almost ramshackle element to it, as if you’ve popped around the back to find a pick-up band rattling through some old country/folk/blues numbers for fun. Imagine a less garrulous and noisy Tom Waits (for example the New orleans brass and clarinet in Everything I Need Is Here) a late-night Ryan Adams (the droopy eyed Dreamtime Blues) and a kind of Sydney Willie Nelson (I Don’t Know What’s Become Of Her) and you’ll have a sense of the relaxed but never actually soft atmosphere here.” Bernard Zuel
STACK MAGAZINE: “Opening with a rumbling tuba, Mark Moldre’s second album has you thinking he could be an Aussie version of Tom Waits. But he’s a sweeter singer. Produced by Bluebottle Kiss’s Jamie Hutchings, Moldre delivers vivid vignettes of the lost and lonesome. “You can know where you are and still be lost” he decrees in the downbeat standout, I Don’t Know What’s Become Of Her. He also sings “There are cliches all over the world, because they’re true.” But An Ear To The Earth is filled with delightful detours, switching from blues to roots to jazz. Very tasty indeed.” ★ ★ ★ ★ Jeff Jenkins
POST TO WIRE: “An Ear To The Earth is exactly what you want from an artist – a record that shows they’re stretching themselves, expanding their art and reverentially experimenting with the great art of songwriting.” 8/10 Chris Familton
MESS AND NOISE: “Quixotic and genre defying”
NO DEPRESSION: “Mark Moldre has slowly but surely carved out a wonderful body of work…Moldre has now gone one step further and both refined and expanded his stylistic palette on his new 2013 album An Ear To The Earth, exploring his interests in jazz, blues and folk with a unique and honest take on those most traditional of musical forms”
ALT MEDIA: “Moldre, a gifted lyricist and melody-maker, manages to piece together different styles, both coherently and beautifully.” ★ ★ ★ ★ Katie Davern
DRUM MEDIA: “Stepping way out of his comfort zone, singer-songwriter Mark Moldre delivers an album Nick Cave would be proud of” Michael Smith
INPRESS: “An Ear To The Earth is one of 2013’s tastiest trips, taking the listener on a rollicking, rootsy journey. One minute, it rumbles; the next, it’s gentle and poignant.”
TIME OFF: “His 2010 solo debut The Waiting Room earned serious plaudits, and after a lengthy gestation period his new follow-up, An Ear To The Earth, has already proved a more-than-worthy successor. Possessing a vastly different tone to it’s predecessor, the album’s folk-tinged indie stylings are characterised by watertight songwriting, deft imagery and imaginative arrangements, and it has a far coarser feel overall than his previous fare” Steve Bell
americanaUK “his songs are peppered with junkyard percussion while he inhabits the demimonde that Waits stalks so well….he delivers a wonderful noirish tango in ‘Madeleine’ which reeks of dank dark alleyways while ‘I Don’t Know What Becomes of Her’ hides a coiled up menace beneath a deceptively attractive Texican rhythm with the slow burning guitars hinting at the darkness Moldre is singing about…..recalls another antipodean , CW Stoneking with its mixture of exuberance and old time charm.” Paul Kerr
X-PRESS MAGAZINE: “Any album that starts with a tuba sets the bat pretty high and Moldre’s late night tales for a dark room and a mulled drink hit the mark every time. An Ear To The Earth is a loose yet stylish romp through the lives of the lonesome as Moldre comes across as a younger and less wearied Tom Waits (with an Australian accent).” Chris Havercroft
TIMBER AND STEEL “”If Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Jeff Tweedy were pushed out to sea in a rickety old boat they’d come up with something like this. Mark Moldre’s An Ear to the Earth is a boisterous yet soulful musical journey worth the fare. You’ll be stomping and crying and laughing, and if you’re lucky to catch Moldre live, you’ll be doing all three with a whiskey in hand.” Jessica Cassar
EAR TO THE GROUND (US) “Not since I first heard Pokey Lafarge have I been so impressed with an artist’s ability to capture a bygone era. A bit of the 1930s in sonic form, Mark Moldre‘s old soul transports listeners back to the Great Depression’s saddest of speakeasies. It’s quintessential American and straight from Australia. It’s freshly old. It’s minimalistic and full band. This album of contradictions is just what your sophisticated music palate has been dying to hear.”
MOS EISLEY MUSIC (GERMANY): “Easily among the best releases of its kind….one of the best folk releases this year”
ROOTS HIGHWAY (ITALY) “Some episodes are pretty darn attractive ( the sweet country- rock of Nowhere At All , curvaceous Madeline , a soft O Dreamtime Blues ) for simply not to be relegated to the field of reproduction, rather giving the impression of a folk singer who knows how to translate his music dark places” Fabio Cerbone
PRESS FOR PREVIOUS RELEASES
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD You won’t get a grip on Sydneysider Mark Moldre’s album with casual listening. At first, in a song such as In This Life or The Man You Dreamed I’d Be, he might come across as a less-unhinged Mercury Rev/Flaming Lips, his only-just-hanging-on-there voice and mix of innocence and chemically flavoured playing shining brightly. Then in The Waiting Room and These Birds you get a taste of that dark jauntiness of laughing in the face of death/the ugly world that Mark Everett of the Eels perfected long ago. But wait, in Lifeboat, while that voice is more soothing, the story is tougher, the emotions rawer and they finally tear you up. To complicate matters, Moldre can do almost-straightforward folkish pop, too, in These Things. Pay attention, close attention. Especially to the lyrics. Bernard Zuel
FASTER LOUDER The intimacy of songwriting is a difficult skill to master for the best of musicians. When they do you find yourself pausing, experiencing a physical reaction to the music as it halts your progress and you allow it to wash over you, taking hold of your emotions and ushering them inside the songs. This magical power of music was something I experienced when I sat down to listen to Mark Moldre’s debut solo album The Waiting Room.
Moldre isn’t doing anything revolutionary in terms of structure, content or mood but he does excel in those areas in almost every one of the album’s eleven songs. He is trading at the junction of americana, indie and guitar pop where songs never settle into one genre but instead swing and float between them. The opening track The Buzzing Of Bees is pure Mark Linkous folk and experimentation filtered through Wilco’s fantastical soundscapes. It sets up the mood of the record beautifully and signals that it isn’t going to be a one dimensional singer-songwriter show. As quickly as he sets the first scene Moldre lifts the layers to reveal the single In This Life with its optimistic bounce that feels like late afternoon autumn sun, warding off the coming cold. Melancholy seeps through the song’s upbeat rhythm and posits itself as a clear theme to The Waiting Room. With good comes bad, with bad comes good but life keeps on going.
Moldre possesses a keening, almost straining grain of a voice and on Troubled Genius it is almost pushed to breaking, though interestingly he isn’t singing loudly. It adds that lived-in feeling to his songs, much in the way that Mark Everett of Eels or Tom Waits colour their songs with a select palette of vocal characteristics. Combined with clever and understated pacing of his words there is a sense that much time and effort has gone into the lyrical arrangements throughout the album. The spectre of americana hovers above the music in two forms. Again it is the vocals that use that world weary tone and mood that singers like Wild Oldham and Phosphorescent employ but instrumentally Moldre adds restrained touches of piano, Wurlitzer, harmonica, mellotron and slide guitar that all combine to give the songs a real and organic flavour. They sound lived in, loved and pre-worn. Things aren’t all doom and gloom and Moldre shows how melancholy can be uplifting if crafted the right way. On Ferris Wheel he swerves and turns corners like a woolly Sonic Youth colliding with a power pop group and it is gleefully infectious stuff.
Fans of Australian indie will recognise the influence of Jamie Hutchings (a long time friend of Moldre) on Lifeboat with its soothingly deconstructive bent and a lilting melody and backing choir. It is a gorgeous paean to life as a journey rather than a destination, laid bare with a confidence that enables the space and silence between the notes to breathe volumes. The ghost of Wilco hovers over the final track Smoke, both in Moldre’s imaginative lyrics (smoke starts to rise over skyscraper skies) and the use of percussive noise and texture to disrupt the central elegance of the song. This is no amateur aping of influences though, Moldre invests it with more than enough of his own creativity and personality for it to be his own distinct composition.
Too often musicians who emerge from the ashes of fallen bands and take the solo route become too self obsessed and caught up in their own myth. Moldre has stepped back from that by writing a very personal album that doesn’t exclude the listener. There are sepia-tinged universal themes at work in The Waiting Room that conjure up feelings of nostalgia, loss, love and optimism and Moldre has captured the mood of the human soul with great artistic clarity. Chris Familton
Laden with gorgeous harmonies, vocal hooks and artful arrangements, The Waiting Room liner notes read like the inventory of a music store – twelve string guitars, wurlitzers, mellotrons, optigans, cellos, miscellaneous drums, theremins, harmonicas. And channeled through a proper pair of headphones, every instrument resonates and every vocal carries, heightening the transformative layers of the album. While the single ‘In This Life’ is conceivably an upbeat pop song, its distinctive jangling guitar riff, Flaming Lips-esque vocal, and old-school backing vocals provided by Moldre’s ‘Sailor’s Choir,’ ensure the song quickly eludes any typical, mundane categorisation.
Unfolding in a slow waltz time, ‘This Romantic Day’ crackles and whirs like old film music. Recalling the ethereal, fragile beauty of Sparklehorse’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ ‘This Romantic Day’ is without doubt the album’s breathtaking highlight.‘Smoke,’ the final track before The Waiting Room closes its doors, fills with marching drums and muted organs before fading away like smoke. Encapsulating Moldre’s gift for poetry and the album’s overarching aesthetic, his lyrics are dusted with nostalgia – ‘and the crackle of old records fills the house like burning autumn leaves.’
“The Waiting Room is Moldre’s journey to the past and back again, establishing a musical manifesto of all the things that have saved him along the way. While the innocence and security of childhood have long gone, The Waiting Room embraces the melancholia of passing time and turns it into something wonderful.” Anneliese Milk
DOUBTFUL SOUNDS The immediate vocal association on title track is with Mark Everett from The Eels as Moldre huskily sings about a demise apparently inspired by the Phil Spector trial. The arrangement on the song is undeniably impressive with strings and a hazy, dreamlike quality to the way it grows, shimmers and sways.
‘The Songs That I’d Forgotten’ is an acoustic jaunt with a folk leaning that wouldn’t be out of place alongside Mercury Rev or The Felice Brothers. He has the knack of delivering a patient and infectious vocal melody over his music that provides a settled and well paced mood.
‘Hushabye Mountain’ appeared in the film Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang and it is Moldre doing his best Tom Waits take on the song. It creaks and rolls along like a drunken oompah band and with subtler singing and ghostly whistling it works gloriously; like a sepia-tinged afterthought.
The final track, ‘Milkwood Moon’, contains some wonderfully delicate guitar and piano touches and is the most beautiful moment on the EP. Reminiscent of some of Jamie Hutchings solo work (he has contributed vocals and slide guitar to The Waiting Room), it shows an open and honest approach to recording, allowing the space and air to fill the song as much as the notes being produced. Not a million miles from the more desolate moments of Ryan Adams it is the highlight of the EP.
If Moldre is content to let these songs appear on a precursor EP then the forthcoming album will no doubt be a fine release from this fast maturing songwriter.
THE AUSTRALIAN “Moldre’s root to prominence is to create a deeply romantic, almost surreal musical vision of himself and his travails. ..he skewers us with incisive imagery and snags our hearts with simple but memorable tunes.“ Ian Cuthbertson
REVERB MAGAZINE 4/5 “The Waiting Room represents a perfect introduction to the Mark Moldre oeuvre – lush instrumentation and production coupled with thoughtful, yet understated lyrics that range from heartfelt to the quirky…For a debut album, The Waiting Room, is a surprisingly rich release – the kind you keep coming back to only to find another sonic treat that just wasn’t there before. If The Waiting Room is anything to go by, you get the feeling Mark Moldre won’t be waiting long.” Stephen Bisset
BUCKETFUL OF BRAINS “Mark Moldre has the perfect rich honey pop voice, writes hook laden intelligent, sophisticated, creamy pop songs that shine with quality and depth and is a top notch guitarist to boot”
DRUM MEDIA “I wish I had Mark Moldre’s gift for melodies. He’s got this pop thing completely sussed, and in a more equal world that would put him at the top of a heap that starts with Lennon/McCartney (and Harrison, let’s not diminish the intelligence of his work either) and takes you through Brian Wilson to Elvis Costello and Difford/Tilbrook….” Michael Smith “There’s more to this than the standard singer-songwriter fare” Ross Clelland
ALT MEDIA “…taking reverence in the forlorn and wresting in spare, dark folky arrangements It’s all well-rounded, you can tell he’s taken his time putting this together. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly” Aiden Roberts
SCENE MAGAZINE “Influenced by the words of Kerouac and the musical poetry of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, Moldre takes insight from those around him and combines his own experiences, singing honestly and openly about love and life. For those who appreciate a softer sound when it comes to music, this album is worth checking out.”
WHO THE HELL “That’s right, this is a cover of a song from the aforementioned film, (Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and it is far more Tom Waits than Disney. It’s has a slightly creepy feel about it. In spite of Disney’s intent, Moldre’s bare, carnivalesque atmosphere make’s the titular mountain feel like somewhere I don’t want to visit.” This is weird but also really cool. Especially the whistles at the end.” Matt Hickey
babysue (USA) “The album is, in many ways, a throwback to the sound of singer/songwriters from the 1970s… the songs actually sound something like a more soft and soothing cross between Eels and The Flaming Lips…. Created using traditional instruments, the tracks on this album have a nice classic sound that should appeal to just about anyone….resonant and intelligent” by LMNOP aka dONW7
ROOTS HIGHWAY (Italy) “…lyrics that are placed in the vein of the poetic….In eleven tracks influences are countless., Sea Change by Beck and the Beatles via Wilco and Sparklehorse…But these are notes in the margins of a valuable work, solid and with several gems including The Buzzing Of Bees, and Birds These extraordinary Ferris Wheel, where we seem to hear the Smashing Pumpkins in 1979 when Ryan Adams breaks into a tipsy and electric.” Luca Muchetti
LUNA CAFE (Sweden) “…gorgeously textured….This is a strong debut by a gifted singer” Anna Maria Stjärnell
AUSTRALIAN GUITAR “Mark Moldre, who, aside from playing “guitarsaplenty” also has a go at everything from Theremin to Mellotron, autoharp and thumb-tack piano, making him either a show off or a genius, maybe both”
TSUNAMI MAGAZINE “To create his debut solo album, The Waiting Room, Mark Moldre has combined his skill as a songwriter and his raw emotion. Mark’s determination to reveal his somewhat dark, yet quirky soul is what defines this album, from his melancholy lyrics to his tortured gravelly vocals.” Liam West