REVIEWS

Thanks to all the people that contributed to this fine list of positive review that I've received over the years for my music. You spend a year or so working very hard to find your voice and express yourself so it's always a great experience to know people listen and enjoy the music.

"Head Noise" 2021
3.9/5 - by Jamie Funk / Divide & Conquer Music
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Marcus Kihn is a multi-instrumental, solo artist from Toronto, Canada who recently released Head Noise. There are fourteen songs and Kihn explains: “I like to create albums that I won't get bored of listening to and love too many genres to focus on just one.” If you’ve read my reviews before you’ll probably know I’m not too crazy about albums from artists that jump around too much. Personally, I enjoy an album that tries to find a singular sound for the artist. In this case there was some jumping but nothing too far in left field. The majority of the album is rooted in rock but there are certainly deviations into different areas like funk, electronic and folk. To his credit he’s a good enough musician to pull off what he attempts.

One of the highlights was the first track “Reach” which is a killer track that contains a driving groove, some impressive lead guitar and a number of epic crescendos. The darker and moody “Pretend” is a little more melancholy and subdued but also quite beautiful in a Radiohead type of way.

“If We’re Done” is the most relaxing and calming break up I’ve  possibly heard. It’s on the verge of reggae and is absolutely sing-along worthy. If you want southern rock anthem that is a stomper you need to hear “No Time For You.”

The synth heavy “Endless Night” has more of an ’80s vibe somewhere between New Wave and early U2. As the album progressed there were a number of songs which quickly became my favorites including the funky “Watching You” and “Little Mind.”

​This is definitely an album where people will be attracted to specific songs simply based on what genres they enjoy. As I mentioned earlier Kihn really knows how to write a song and always puts melody first so even the genres which aren’t on top of my list were enjoyable. My suggestion is just to spin this one from beginning to end and go from there. Recommended.

"Head Noise" 2021
5/5
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Head Noise by Marcus Kihn   

Stay Home, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance – these are all the buzz words in these difficult, unprecedented, unusual times. But yet, even in these strange times, creativity has not stood still. One piece of the creativity pie was placed on my plate on January 20, 2021.

Marcus Kihn’s ninth album Head Noise made its debut. For this ninth album he brought the original band together…him. The original line up..him.


Seems like it’s all about “him” but that’s exactly what has brought for the following results.

Track 1 – Reach – This song has a subtle but awesome use of the vocoder effect combined with a haunting guitar solo make this a great start to the album.

Track 2 – Until It Sinks – It is hard to believe that a sad subject can be encased in such a happy song. And when the rhythm section joins in then it makes you feel like it’s time to close a chapter in life and move on.

Track 3 – Days Like Today – This song makes you feel like you’re falling from the sky, drifting ever so slowly, softly, till you land on your home planet (whatever that may be). 

Track 4 – Pretend – This is the song you want to have playing through your earphones when you’re walking on a downtown street thinking about what you’ve lost in the past and wondering what you’ll find the future.    


Track 5 – If We’re Done – Wow. Breaking up never sounded so nice. 

Track 6 – Bring Her Home – A love song that expresses an honest yearning to help a lost love. 

Track 7 – No Time for You – This song is an anthem for those looking to get rid of the “dead wood” in their life. 

Track 8 – Endless Night – This song is reminiscent of the great 1980’s love songs. It reminds you of that hot chick you were dancing beside on the club dance floor – the one you fell in love with instantly – but you know you’ll never see her again – so just enjoy the dance. 

Track 9 – Sandbox – This song makes you feel like you’re flying above New York city and thinking about “her.” She’s somewhere down there. And she’s on your mind. Again.

Track 10 – Watching You – This song has an 80/90’s hip hop beat. It’s the song you want to be listening to when you’re getting dressed for that hot date you’ve been looking forward to for your whole life. A stalkers theme song accented with a lovely synth solo. Cool..the rhythm section showed up too!

Track 11 – Downtime – The best Sundays are lazy Sundays and this is a lazy Sunday song. So leave me alone in my own world…for a little while. 

Track 12 – Little Mind – The rhythm section is back and they brought the finger snappers with them. Let’s dance and be real. 

Track 13 – Racing to the End – This song is an excellent ending the musical journey. Time to say goodbye till the next album. This song is like a toast – “here’s to the hope for the future and the future of love.”
And that guitar soloist snuck in again. He must have a key to the studio.  


Conclusion:

This album brought together Markus’ talents yet again. Being a multi-instrumentalist, producer/writer is quite common these days. Technology allows for that. But technology can never create something that isn’t there. If the love for music isn’t there – if the love for expression isn’t genuine – if the desire to create isn’t real – technology will not hide that. It will come through in the music.

 

What comes through on this album is real. Real good. This album leaves the listener feeling: 

 

  1. Enough of the pigeon holing of artists trying to get them to stick to one genre of music. 
     

  2. Album track listings should be thought through. Not just dumped, like emails into a folder, but contemplated over. It has to make sense to the flow of the album. 

 

Marcus Kihn has accomplished this yet again. 

 

Congratulations Marcus. The album is stylish, fun, and moreover it’s you. That’s what matters. I’ll correct my previous remark. This isn’t just a slice of the musical creativity pie – it is a pie. It has all the natural organic ingredients to be a full on good-for-you thing to devour. Now, please cut me another slice!   - Alex B.
 

"Blind Soul" 2016
4/5
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Thank you Marcus...All I can say is "more of the same"...more great songs with thought provoking, insightful lyrics enshrouded in music that indicates to the listener that you have something to say - not just something to show - which has become the norm with many acts in this dreary time we live in. There are indeed many blind souls who wander through the quagmire of what passes as music these days, but then an album comes along which leads us back to the path of the wonder of music. So thank you for giving us another "road map" Marcus. There are many of us that are looking forward to the next 8 albums. As it was written in Hamlet "to thine own self be true" and you've done it yet again..true to yourself, true to the music. That's what counts." - Alex Balaban.

 "Great album title. Killer music, by the way. My album should be called BS for short." - Gerry Mosby.

"This is a great listen. It's not often you can get me to sit still for 5 minutes let alone 10 songs. These are solid, notable is the baseline on Nickel and Dime. Grooming Regret comes from a dark place and has a hint of Jane's Addiction to it with a better singer. Lush and lovely." - Andrew Lister

"Forward Gaze" 2015
3.9/5
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Last year Marcus Kihn released Lascivious, which we reviewed here at The Equal Ground. The record was beat heavy with a prominent low end. Vocals were sparse as were the guitars. It was a sweet combination of trip-hop, electronic music and even new age. Kihn is back with an album entitled Forward Gaze, which is far removed from Lascivious. In fact if you didn't know it was the same artist you probably wouldn't come close to guessing it was Kihn. Forward Gaze breaks out acoustic and electric guitars, lot of lyrics and songs that have more in common with folk, Americana, funk and pop rather than trip-hop. It’s a bold deviation but Kihn has the tools and talent and pulls it off. 

 

The songs on Forward Gaze are the kind that gets stuck in your head. You might catch yourself humming some melodies without knowing it or having to listen to a song on repeat. The bottom line is Kihn delivers a batch of catchy songs while flirting with multiple genres quite successfully.

 

The album kicks off with “Living More,” which is one of the highlights on the album. Kihn combines accordion, guitar, vocals and bass into a comforting, warm cocoon of sounds. There is certainly some melancholy but also a good amount of solace, which makes for a winning combination. The song sounds like a distant cousin to “Norwegian Wood.” 

 

“She Came Back” is a pop song that has traces of the Beach Boys and surf rock. It’s an upbeat song with stacked vocal harmonies, solid guitar riffs and organ. The third track “Monkey Man” is a sensual, lush yet slightly funky tune while “Run” reaches epic heights that can draw comparisons to Pink Floyd.

 

The album ends with a sparse yet emotionally heavy song entitled “Slow Down.” Kihn strums his guitar lightly while singing lyrics that yearn for change. He sings, “always worried/never happy/what's the point of hanging around.”  Forward Gaze is a good album showcasing another side to Kihn’s talent. I hope Kihn hangs around for a long time and keeps making music as good as this.  

 

by Matt Jensen of The Equal Ground

"Lascivious" 2013
4.1/5
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Let’s start by breaking down the name of musician Marcus Kihn’s latest album; “Lascivious” is an adjective that describes anything evoking overt or offensive sexual desire. Being the musician’s sixth studio release, from the beginning you can feel this album just wanting to make sweet passionate sex with your eardrums.

Kihn is from Canada and has been making music for several decades and he pulls influences from neo-psychedelic idols like Pink Floyd and Massive Attack. He started playing with bands but soon realized he flourished most through creating music as a solo artist. This album exudes this truth, as the music is multi-layered and dynamic yet has an appreciation for simple contemplation, and is perfect background music for solitary relaxation. Each track has a meditative state and slowly draws you into a world of mysterious tranquility.

The album opens up with “Pangea,” which is a slow burning track that slowly turns into a bright fire. The usage of tribal drums and chanting lyrics results in transcendence to some ritual taking place down in the Amazon and I can even imagine being enveloped by the scent of smoke and dense forest.

A more mysterious and perhaps darker track is “Missing Heart,” which has an Indian vibe and reminds me of trip hop bands like Thievery Corporation. The song offers vocals from both a male and a female and together they make this song an emotional and ethereal trip. The effects are all different yet add a cohesive character that is quite hypnotizing. The lyrics “your soul’s delight will surely find you, looking deep within until it kills you,” give a beautiful image of self-discovery but at the same time the darkness of uncovering one’s true meaning of life creates a haunting effect.

The entire album is of high production quality and the usage of effects, vocals and supplemental instruments all blend together to create an ambient like jazz-infused sophisticated lounge album. Even though Kihn is the mastermind behind the album, the addition of talented vocalists, a flutist and an electric violinist give this album the depth and truth of experience that anyone craves in an album. Each song creates a distinct effect on the psyche and perhaps, the musician’s intentions on the listener’s reception is quite Lascivious.

 

by Eva Cantillo of The Equal Ground

"Mental" 2010
5/5
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Don't let the mask fool you. The smooth operator is back! On the aptly tilled "Mental", multi-instrumentalist Marcus Kihn fearlessly leaps across musical genres to craft what is arguably his best album to date. The alternative rocker "Gotta Know" gets things started with some serious volume and a sweet psychedelic bridge.

 

Then it's a full 180 into "Middle", where up beat piano-pop meets some deceptively dark lyrics. Picking up speed is the track "Devoted", (a sure-to-be-favourite of Kihn's CITY album) and one of several new songs that re-invents the eighties with a modern club vibe. The moody "Somebody" is next, a song that is both beautiful end forebodIng, and features one of the album's best vocal performances.

 

Marcus turns the dial back again and channels the Cure and E.L.P. to delivery the spacey Sugar before setting foot on the dark side of the moon with the brilliant "All You Need" (a masterful tribute 'to the greatness of Pink Floyd). The cascading sounds of "Skylight" bring us back to earth but keep looking to the stars on what is easily one of the best 'tracks on the album (and in Kihn's entire catalogue).

 

The acoustic jam "Let You Down", keeps it simple and showcases another side, while the breezy "Ordinarily" flows like a smooth martini, pool-side at a luxury resort. Mental draws to a close with the pondering piano and subtle undercurrents of "On and On", an introspective song that signals the end we the promise of a new beginning...a fitting finale to a another remarkable album.  

 

By Thomas MacIvor

"All Sides Facing Out" 2008
4.5/5
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Every bit as good as CITY, but in an entirely different way. ALL SIDES. explores the softer side of Marcus's musical repertoire and offers some of his best compositions to date. Perhaps one ballad too many can be found here, but in fairness, each one is played well and takes a slightly different approach. The more experimental songs really shine, and also add variety and balance to album as a whole. This is a great selection of songs that stands right up next to his TOGETHER album of greatest hits. ALL SIDES is an album that was a long time in the making but well worth the wait. 

1) Don't Matter; In my opinion the opening track is a shinning example of what Marcus does best. Of the many different styles he plays, it's the smooth and jazzy adult contemporary numbers like this that he renders as well as the very best in the genre. The pairing of Troy Ples's guitar work and the many layers that Marcus puts down behind a strong vocal make this my favourite track on the CD.  I would love to hear a whole CD pairing these two great players. This song stands alongside some of the very best songs Marcus has done: "Everyday", "Driving Away" and "Nextime". Well done!

2) Running To The Light: I remember hearing a rough version of this song many years ago on a cassette tape. I liked it then, and I like it even more now. This new revamped version is played to perfection. I love the Cuban influence and the song writing is great too.

3) Anyway: A nice laid back track, and a good example of the straightforward smooth grooves Marcus does between his more experimental wanderings.  This may not be a single, but it's still a nice track with some good lines in it.

4) Half: This cool song trades ska verses with a hard rocking chorus. It's an experiment that works, and a strong rock track to balance out the many ballads on the CD.  It's very current sounding too – I'm hearing a lot of new songs with ska references on mainstream radio these days, this would certainly fit right in there.

 

5) Away A big sad ballad with a heart-felt vocal that that really rips in places set against a nice acoustic guitar and piano backing. Not one of my favourites on the CD, but still well composed and played.  The echoing electronic beat is layered in the back and the more traditional piano sound replaces the synths to good effect here.

 

6) Things To Do:  Much more powerful than the previous track, and one of my favourites. Not exactly a power ballad, but I suppose you could call it that.  Sweeping and orchestral with some well placed breaks that frame the subtle and introspective lyrics. Marcus reaches a new level of song writing here.  "Things To Do" calls to mind some of the stronger moments on his "GREEN' CD but done even better. 

 

7) Empty:  The darkness creeps in on this track. The twisted and echoing vocal stylings drive the song and the signature guitar sound that can be found on many of Marcus's CDs is in fine form here. 

 

8) Looking Over Here: Mellow and personal. An nice ballad with a full sound that floats along comfortably in the back three of the CD.  I like this one better than "Away".

 

9) Do Today: A nice little feel-good song that reminds me a bit of Jack Johnson.  The lazy harmonica accents the track well.  This is the most stripped down number on the album and would even sound good on a children's  music CD. Not the reason I put on his CD's but for all of Marcus's production skills, this shows yet another side that he can do a simple track just as well. It's a good song for all that it doesn't try to accomplish, and good example of how sometimes less is more.

 

10) Real Time: Once again of the best numbers is saved for last.  The closing track finds Marcus back in a contemplative mood.  The lyrics are among the most powerful on the CD and cut deep but also offer up a glimmer of home in this downcast ending.  The slide guitar sound adds weight to the proceedings and the subtle sample of the schoolyard kids adds a touch of nostalgia to the song, its' likes a reference back to a n easier more carefree time in life.  Great song.  Great CD.

 

by Thomas MacIvor

"City" 2007
5/5
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This is great stuff. Whether you absorb it song by song or as a complete work, this is a well chosen family of songs that compliment each other and take the listener on a dark club crawl that ventures into some unexpected alleyways! With musical styles that bring to mind the music of Depeche Mode, Dead Can Dance, and Supreme Beings Of Leisure, along with own bag of tricks, Marcus has dropped the bomb on CITY!

1) Gone: Great opening track. Sets the tone for the rest of the CD. Sounds best when you're speeding down highway. Good samples too! (Is that Pacino?) 

2) Icarus: Provides a darker mood reminiscent of some of his earlier works (The SlaveBoy CD). Great lyrics with the music to match! The piano exit is a fitting end. Not an upbeat track, but right at home with this mix of songs. 

3) Goodtime: By this third track, the dance/electronic theme of the CD has been firmly established, as has the mix of dark lyrics over danceable beats and hooks. A more upbeat offering than Icarus, but lyrically just as dark. Another strong track. 

4) Natural: One of two older traces on the CD that has found a new home alongside a more congruous group of songs. This one moves along quickly like the opening track. Layered with lots effects and samples, this song also features an additional female vocal that really shines. 

5) Messed Up: 11. would be my pick for the album, single. Catchy, dark, upbeat and well written, this has it all. Definitely a stand-out track and while this is not a concept album, I think this song best encapsulates the albums overall theme both sonically and lyrically. It would sound great on the radio or in a club! 

6) Morbid: A fascinating a. well placed departure. I like this one a lot. Reminiscent of the great songs by the group 'Dead Can Dance',  the music paints a morbid landscape inhabited by menacing lyrics and the somber vocal is a perfect fit. Great stuff 

7) The Whole Thing: Yet another departure, but to a somewhat lesser effect.  This is a funky and loose sounding jam that provides a fun counterpoint to the previous song. The bass lyrics are funny and the way they twist up into a helium pitch at the end is great.  No Marcus CD would be complete without a taste of the funk!

8) My Baby Knows: The second track from a previous release that has found it's moment on this CD. The cheeky lyrics and sexy play between the vocals against a background of horns has been a long time favourite of mine. This song would make another strong single. 

9) Believe: Another upbeat number that fits in with the electronic playlist and ups the ante by adding a rock element to the album with some heavy guitars.  Not a favourite, but by no means a filler. This song helps set up the closing number. 

10) Otherside: Powerful, though-provoking, menacing and explosive.  Marcus has saved the best for last with Otherside.  Contains a well placed sample that still gives chills overtime I hear it and then follows up with a full-forced sonic reply. Easily my favourite song on the album.   

 

By Thomas MacIvor