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Marah - If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry - Yep Roc Records

Since their 1998 debut "Let's Cut The Crap And Hook Up Later On Tonight", the Philly-based band Marah have won fans across the world with their eclectic, rootsy rock & roll. Fronted by the Bielanko Brothers - singer/songwriter/guitarist/banjoist Dave and guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player Serge, they also count as their fans author Nick Hornby, Bruce Springsteen (who played guitar and sang on their 2002 release Float Away With the Friday Night Gods) and Steve Earle (who signed the band to his label and released the band's 2000 release Kids In Philly).

Marah's two new releases for this year are a studio album of rock and roll; If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry and a studio album of Xmas songs - A Christmas Kind Of Town. You wouldn't expect Marah to make a Christmas album given their rough-around-the-edges approach to rock & roll, but the album shows a softer and tender side to the band that they often show on their ballads and love songs that makes A Christmas Kind Of Town such a wonderful suprise. They combine some Christmas classics with some originals and as an album it is a fun and joyous collection of tunes.

Their non-Xmas album is a return to form for the band after being sidetracked by the glossy production of their last record. If You Didn't Laugh is a classic rock record in the best sense. Recorded live in their studio, it's a stripped down and immediate sounding record that dons all the great instrumentation of their early releases. Musical highlights include "City Of Dreams," "The Demon Of White Sadness," and "The Apartment." It doesn't matter that they still wear their influences of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Phil Spector on their sleeves because they synthesize their influences into a unique original sound...long live rock and long live Marah!

Written by Bruce Warren

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