Music Review: Marcy Playground’s “Leaving Wonderland…in a fit of rage”

Originally posted 2009-07-28 01:39:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  3 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

To be honest, Marcy Playground is a band I had forgotten about, leaving them behind in a hazy collection of other nineties modern rock one hit wonders.

Out of sheer curiosity, I felt the urge to hear this most recent album from the “Sex and Candy” singer — it was originally slated as a John Wozniak solo project — that I came across on the Newbury Comics new release rack.  (It certainly didn’t hurt that the disc came with a free download of their previous album, the aptly titled third release from the band: MP3.)

I didn’t expect much, considering that over a decade had passed since I had heard a song from the band.  I always liked “Sex and Candy,” but even in 1997 I knew it was a fairly straightforward track made notable only by its provocative lyrics and Wozniak’s low, unique vocal tones.

What I got was a solid album comprised predominantly of an artist’s exploration of the roots of his music.  Throughout Leaving Wonderland…in a fit of rage, Wozniak’s songwriting is simple and the band’s arrangements are as standard as they come.

When I use the term “solid,” I mean that Marcy Playground’s fourth release is comprised of generally enjoyable songs placed in an effective order to not only keep the listener’s attention, but also to contribute to a largely common set of themes.

And, yes, beyond all these qualifications that I am making, there exists the realization that a “solid” album may be listened to and even appreciated, but it is nothing special.

As with their late nineties single, one of the greatest strengths of the album is Wozniak’s signature vocals.  Throughout the album, he weaves tales of sorrow, loss, and reconsideration.  Whatever “Wonderland” represents for Marcy Playground’s John Wozniak — a relationship or fame to name just a couple possibilities — the exit from said Wonderland is indeed a violent one, soaked in booze and drugs and, at times, literally marked by flames.

“Blackbird,” the opening track and the first US single, sets the tone for what is a heavily acoustic record, a notable departure from their previous release.  “Irene” and “Memphis” are so acoustic and rootsy that they sound as though they were snatched from a decades old country/folk record.

Meanwhile, the album is spiced up by tracks like “Devil Woman” and “Good Times” — the first Canadian single — which are predominantly acoustic, and yet endowed with a heavy beat and a set of catchy vocals.

Of course, the album is not without its electric touches.  “I Must Have Been Dreaming” is a clean and catchy cut, but “I Burned the Bed” and “Emperor” are drenched in distortion and lie at the heart of this album, both thematically and musically.  “Gin and Money” offers the complete package — opening with a nearly tribal beat, subtle but integral piano, and acoustic fingerpicking before kicking into high gear with a little feedback and a lot of spirited vocals and electric guitar.

Overall, I score this album as a “Maybe Not.”  I’m glad I bought it, and I’ve listened to it almost twenty times already.  I truly enjoy many of the tracks, and Wozniak has crafted the order to ebb and flow at just the right times.

However, what doesn’t hit home with me is the simplicity of the lyrics — referring to himself directly in “Good Times,” taking the bright and instantly-stuck-in-your-head “Star Baby” and crippling it with cheesiness, and feeding into some middle school-worthy rhymes in “Thank You,” to name a few instances.  This is my most significant criticism; even the largely predictable arrangements fit within the larger context of the album.

This is an album about coming to terms with the universal thematic subject matter of love and youth lost, of having to grow up after having lost something to the ravages of time.  If you can look past the simplicity of many of the thoughts being conveyed, then this album is worth a listen.

If not, then it might be time for you to go back to the classics — Dylan, Beatles, etc.  Or at least to last year’s Counting Crows album.

“Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2009-08-03 22:14:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

To see how it’s played in a cover song music video: CLICK HERE!

“Sex & Candy”
Marcy Playground

B                      G                         F#
Hangin’ round, downtown by myself and
I had so much time to sit and think about myself
And then there she was, like double cherry pie;
Yeah, there she was; like disco super-fly…

(Stop; riff)

(no chord)         B   G   A
I smell sex and candy here.
Who’s that loungin’ in my chair?
Who’s that castin’ devious stares in my direction?
A                                  D          A
Mama, this surely is a dream.  Yeah.
B                          G               D          A            B   G   F#
Yeah, mama, this surely is a dream.  Dig it.

Hangin’ round, downtown by myself, and
I’ve had too much caffeine and I was thinkin’ about myself
And then there she was
In platform double suede,
Yeah, there she was
Like disco lemonade…


Yeah, mama, this surely is a dream.  Yeah.
Yeah, mama, this surely is a dream.  Yeah.
B                          G                                 end on D
Yeah, mama, this must be my dream.

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **

“Sex and Candy” (Marcy Playground Cover)

Originally posted 2009-08-04 07:26:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Marcy Playground chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

After both technical difficulties and more than my share of human error for the night, my “Chris Moore Monday” post is here!  Not only am I posting a video tonight for the best acoustic cover song music video blog known to man — and humble, too! — but this is actually the first of a double header that will conclude tomorrow night.  Since Jim is away for one more “Jim Fusco Tuesday,” I didn’t want to see anyone go without new material for even a day more.  So make sure to check back tomorrow for an all-new cover song and music video.

Tonight’s song is one that would have made me blush in 1997, and to be honest, it still does.  Back in late ’97 and early 1998, Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy” was everywhere, particularly if you listened to a modern rock radio station.  (CT locals may remember the alternative station Rock 104’s hey day in the nineties.)  At the time, this song broke the record for most consecutive weeks at number one on the modern rock charts — 15 weeks, to be specific.  Meanwhile, this song catapulted Marcy Playground to one hit wonder status, peaking at a solid number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

To this day, I’m not exactly sure why this song was such a big hit at the time.  Structurally, it’s a very simple song, and the vocals are very straightforward.  I think the song’s success can be attributed to its provocative lyrics and John Wozniak’s distinct vocals.  Fortunately for me, “Woz” as he refers to himself has a vocal range that is well within my own, at least on this song!

There are two reasons I’ve chosen this particular song for tonight’s session.  The first is that it reminds me of a time when I was first becoming interested in music, listening to the radio and just beginning to buy CDs at the overpriced Sam Goody’s store in the mall.

The second reason will be explained in tomorrow night’s session…

You know, another sign that this song was successful is that “Weird” Al included the chorus of “Sex and Candy” in his “Polka Power!” polka medley.  If only I, too, could one day have a song parodied by the man, then I would truly know I had earned success.  But, until then, I’ll just have to enjoy the new “Weird” Al video for his new song, “CNR.”  It’s a style parody of the White Stripes and the video was produced by JibJab, so it’s all the more hilarious.  While I thought the “Skipper Dan” video a couple weeks ago was enjoyable, this one is truly great — it made me laugh out loud a couple times and want to watch it again.

Okay, so that’s it for me for now.  I’ll see you back here, same Laptop Sessions time, same Laptop Sessions channel for an all-new “Chris Moore for Jim Fusco Tuesday” cover song music video.

See you next session!