Bio (from cdbaby.com/cd/markadamssonofbill):
Blending downs and acoustic guitar sounds with ups and big muff overdrive, this debut album is fueled by strong song writing without pretense, and does well to appeal to fans of the early 90’s sound.
Mark Adams (Vocals, Guitars, Bass), Spencer Powers (Drums), James Tristan Redding (Bass on 3, 8, 10, Drums on 2, Piano on 5), Christian Hansen (Drums on 3)
If you were old enough to appreciate music in the early 90’s, NOREPINEPHRINE will sound very familiar. I received this album to review from a friend, Don Adams (editor of many a Full Moon feature and some higher class fare, and director in his own right), who is also Mark Adams’ uncle. He described it as “very grunge,” and Mark himself lists Dinosaur Jr. and Nirvana as influences… well, for anyone who has heard grunge before, I would have to say “duh.” This album is so 1991 it’s amazing. And that’s a good thing.
Nirvana was one of my first “favorite” bands, and NEVERMIND was the first CD I ever bought when I was upgrading from cassettes. Upon first listen to NOREPINEPHRINE, it struck me as an album that Nirvana could have made somewhere in-between BLEACH and NEVERMIND; even Mark’s voice has a bit of Cobain to it. The more I listened to it, I started to realize that it’s not as Nirvana as I first thought, especially with the acoustic/electric juxtapositions that Mr. Adams likes to do quite often throughout this album. Then Dinosaur Jr. came to mind. Funny thing was, I had not seen Mark’s CDBaby page yet (which is where he lists these influences), so to see these two band there in black and white made perfect sense.
NOREPINEPHRINE is most certainly a lo-fi album. It’s not quite the tapes that Cobain made in his house lo-fi, but there is not a ton of sheen or polish on this album for sure. It sounds like a garage band got a little extra money and recorded an album, and while to some that might sound like a bad thing, for this style the grunginess of the recording only accentuates the music. It’s not badly recorded at all, it’s just garage band lo-fi (think earlier White Stripes), and that’s just fine by me. Adams has a tendency to do the quiet-loud-quiet song structure, often starting with an acoustic riff that builds to a heavily overdriven chorus on electric, and then back to acoustic. This dynamic made me think a bit more of early Smashing Pumpkins, who were really more of a shoegaze band but were lumped in with the grunge guys as well. It’s familiar, it comforting, and the music makes me think of high school in a good way.
Lyrically Adams seems to also be taking a page out of Cobain’s book. A lot of his lyrics are dark; some are just plain dark and some dark in a playful way. In “Cutting-Edge Independent Rock Band” (a title that reminds me instantly of “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter”), Adams sings “let’s form with an ad on Craigslist… / must have grown up in the suburbs / to know all the struggles I’ve had / and my influence is: lots of bullshit / pretend that you’ve heard of Black Flag / make sure that you love karaoke / and whining a lot.” Adams’ lyrics are not quite as nuanced as what Cobain was writing back in Nirvana’s heyday, but then again who’s were? There is a reason that he was as influential on a generation as he was. However, Adams’ lyrics are a lot heavier than a majority of what’s on the radio today, easily.
Overall, I really enjoyed NOREPINEPHRINE. It brought back fond memories of a time when I was really getting heavily into music for the first time in my life (I liked music before that, but this is when I grew to LOVE music), and that automatically gave me some warm and fuzzies even though this is a pretty dark album overall. NOREPINEPHRINE would have fit very comfortably on Sub Pop or Geffen in the early 90’s, and for anyone that is listening to those bands this would be a good addition to your collection. “You got old, you feel like me” Adams sings on “Paramedicare,” and yes I got old too, but I do feel like you.
Overall 7.5 / 10
NOREPINEPHRINE for sale: http://markadamssonofbill.bandcamp.com/