2. Down The Highway
3. Sunday's Best
4. Is That So Wrong
5. Winding Down
6. Near Mrs.
8. The Right Wrong
9. I Just Want You Near
10. What Are You Waiting For
NEVER BEEN BETTER
01. You’ll Never Be Satisfied
02. On Your Level
03. Everybody Else Bailed
04. This Is My Broom
05. The Wayside
06. High To Low
07. Never Refuse The Rescue
08. Tally Up
09. Show ‘Em Your Teeth
10. Backing Down Again
11. The Queen’s Treatment
2, 3, 5, 9
FCC Warning Tracks:
1, 10, 11
Ada Jane is the latest manifestation of the musical efforts of Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Matt Marka. The band also includes Charlie Wilson (drums), David Strahan (lead guitar), Matt Reimers (bass), and various other guests, musical and non-musical, on various nights. Ada Jane delivers a varied sound style, ranging from moody dirges to rollicking rock n' roll.
In the nearly 4 years since the band's inception, Ada Jane has taken its high-energy, jumping and back kicking, Springsteen-on-speed live show on tour in Canada(including an invite to the 2006 Canadian Music Week in Toronto and an invite to the 2009 NxNE festival), The United Kingdom, Ireland, and throughout the Midwest, East coast of the US including an invitation to perform at the 2005 Midwest Music Summit in Indianapolis, IN. Ada Jane has also shared bills with numerous national acts, including Centro-Matic, The Heartless Bastards, Evan Dando, Jolie Holland, and Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy of Soul Asylum, Maritime, Bound Stems, Ha Ha Tonka, and Eagle Seagull.
Ada Jane's sophomore effort, "Again...Again" takes over where the band left off on it's debut album, "Never Been Better." Recorded at Humans Win! with Lance Conrad(of the Alpha Centauri), and with a little help from Chris Koza on keys and Dan Eikmeier on trumpet, Again...Again," is an authentic hunk of Minneapolis music. Embracing their hometown roots on tracks like, "Sunday's Best" and "I Just Want You Near" and expanding them on "Down The Highway" and "Found."
Under his own name, Matt Marka has self-released three albums over the past several years: One Less Ruth (1999), Repeat Pete Repete (2001), and Good-bye Gracious (2003).
BAND:Matt Marka: vocals, guitar
Charlie Wilson: drums, vocals, clarinet
David Strahan: guitar, bass, pedal steel, vocals
Matt Reimers: bass
Dan Eikmeier: trumpet
with special musical guest
Chris Koza: keys on tracks 2, 4, 5, 7
Reviewer: David Cowling
Think of Minneapolis and the 1980’s and you’ll think of Prince, and if you’re of a certain age and predilection, the Replacements, Husker Du and Soul Asylum.
Ada Jane who aren’t the ladies as their name might suggest, are faithful to the Mats and Soul Asylum (leaving the idea of a band built on Prince and Husker Du open – they should of course be called Pink Turns to Purple) and are so convincing in that role they are worthy of the comparison. They have a nice line in scruffy good-time rock. ‘Small’ marries rough guitar tones with harmony vocals, and ‘Go’ starts like it’s 'Hootenanny', guitars ringing, feedback hissing like sidewalk steam vent and then a surprise as a trumpet adds a kind of June Brides feel to the song. The trumpet is also used on ‘Down the Highway’ which is more twang and mariachi than grey rainy England. ‘Sunday’s Best’ takes us east from Minneapolis to Boston where Buffalo Tom tamed Dinosaur’s sharp edges, anyone for a College Rock revival?
There are plenty of Westerberg-like moments, ‘Winding Down’ locates itself firmly in the solo basement with acoustic guitars and hushed vocals, delicate feeling and heartbeat drums, it gradually gains strength enough to free up the electric guitar to snarl before retreating to the comfort blanket of the acoustic. ‘Near Mrs.’ hangs around the same places, only this time there is pedal steel and harmonies for company. If you want the Replacements you want them staggering from bar to party with a broken heart and a full bottle and this is just what ‘I Just Want You Near’ delivers, then they drive it home with ‘What Are You Waiting For’ with vocals tearing at the back of the throat, fingers tearing at the strings, anthems of a sort. Where Ada Jane differ is that they never seem like they might implode at any point, the swagger and bluster is under control.
There is a limit to how far nostalgia and homage will get you, and Ada Jane are pushing up against the limit, their brand of Minneapolis rock does little to push the sound forward, they provide a celebration and a reminder of great moment but add little of their own. If you needed a band to stand in for the Replacements in a film in the way that Yo La Tengo did for the Velvet Underground in 'I Shot Andy Warhol', you know the number to call.
(P.A.W Records, 2009)
We Heart Music
July 27, 2009
One of the benefits of living in a small city is incest. Not literally, but definitely artistically. Minneapolis is swarming with incestuous (creative) relationships. If you’ve spent any number of years amongst the artists and the vagrants you know that referencing Prince and Bob Dylan is so "cherry in the spoon" (read: insert foot in mouth). I suppose this same rule could be applied to any other small-yet-culturally-vibrant U.S. city, but who cares. This is Minneapolis; we’re called the "mini apple" for a reason, and it ain’t our apple pie.
Matt Marka is one of those semi-elusive musicians—the kind whose name strikes a familiar chord even if you’re not quite sure why…you…know…him. Ninety percent of the Minneapolis music scene is covered in this amnesiac fog. You can’t blame the listeners: local artists love to work with other local artists, and so, over the years, the lines blur and "side projects" multiply and keeping current is nearly impossible (unless, of course, you run a music blog, and then, by default, you know everything). Marka’s been an active member of the local scene for at least a solid decade. He’s shared the stage with national acts including Evan Dando, the Heartless Bastards, Soul Asylum, as well as studio collaborations with local faves JoAnna James and Chris Koza, to list a few. Presently, he fronts Ada Jane, a four-piece rock outfit reminiscent of Minnesota rock-fathers Hüsker Du and the Replacements. In 2006 Ada Jane released Never Been Better; nearly three years later, the band has new members, a new album, and, most importantly, new polish.
Again…Again combines all that we love about bona fide Minneapolis rock: sincere lyrics, catchy riffs, potential to disable ears, horns, and enough growl-singing to be convincing without sounding Battle of the Bands. Remember the good days, before musicians went soft and started playing glockenspiels? Ada Jane remembers. Again opens like a persuasive Thomas Hobbes yelling at you: "Every time I cop a stance someone’s waiting behind me pulling down my pants / sealed with a kick in the ass" ("Go"). Life is brutish and short and Marka has no qualms with laying on the ugly truth...Thick. "Near Mrs" is a veritable bummer. "Winding Down" feels like congestive heart failure. Thankfully, for our health, Again ups the tempo when the mood is down (you can’t rock out while crying). One of the stronger tracks, "Down the Highway," starts with a shade of surf-noir, followed by what can only be described as "prowl pace*," then come the horns, eventually reaching sticky, messy, oh Lord climax (2:05), finishing with more horns and cuddling. Don’t ask me for a cigarette after, I’m quitting.
Ada Jane is Matt Marka, David Strahan (guitar), Matt Reimers (bass), and Charlie Wilson (drums). Again…Again is scheduled for August issue. Apparently the band is quite the live act. They’ve been likened to Bruce Springsteen, which is a confusing comparison, as the only Springsteen visual I can mentally summon is this. Bum-hugging jeans? Check. Shirt sleeves rolled to conceal packs of cigarettes (and also to reveal packs of muscle)? Check (check). Strangely hypnotic arms swings? Check. Courteney Cox? Check. I can’t speak of any similarities, so you’ll just have to hold out for the August 21st CD release show at the 400 Bar. It’s worth noting that the 400 Bar hosted the release of Never Been Better, three years ago, almost to the day (Aug. 26, 2006). Minneapolis is good to her musicians, despite the occasional backlash. But that’s neither here nor there. For more information on the band, visit their website or Myspace. Keep posted to www.400bar.com for ticketing information (the show hasn’t been announced yet).
* Vocal cadence that may inspire one to arch the back, arms extended and palms to the floor, while slowly bouncing, as though hungry for any number of things: love, blood, brains, knowledge.
Ada Jane – Again… Again
Again… Again is in many ways a classic Minnesota album molded from the same folk rock pastes from which mainstays Gary Louris and Martin Zeller drew their inspiration. While the music might find comfortable accommodations within any of the many Twin Cities bars and clubs, the real home for this music is found traversing the gently breezed Eastern Plains of Minnesota en route to a camping trip somewhere near Ely. We Minnesotans need at least one album like Again… Again every year, if for nothing else than to remind us how good we have it, both in our country and in our musicians. Matt Marka of Ada Jane has given us something we can call our own in Minnesota, again and again.
"Sunday’s Best" by: Ada JaneWebsite / Myspace / iTunes
Ada Jane –
Tuesday 10 November 2009 15:18 Emily Rippe
What does Minneapolis sound like? Two names, one band: Ada Jane. Commit this to memory because the whole country — including Toledo— is about to find out just how pleasing Minneapolis is to the ears. Lead by singer-songwriter Matt Marka, this up-and-coming five-piece band is a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. The band draws comparisons to groups like Wilco and R.E.M., but it’s their Minneapolis predecessors who’ve really provided the inspiration — see The Replacements and Husker Du. Having just released their second album, Again... Again, Ada Jane found themselves playing on stages across the world with Centro-Matic, The Heartless Bastards and Jolie Holland. The band brings its headlining tour to Mickey Finn’s on Wednesday, November 11. $5/$7. 9 p.m. 602 Lagrange St. www.myspace.com/adajanemusic
Twin Cities Roll Call
Ada Jane CD Release Party
Friday, August 21st
The full band alter ego of longtime scene staple Matt Marka, Ada Jane's carved out a comfortable niche for itself over the years among the stable of roots rockers that call the West Bank's 400 Bar their home base for live performance. The group returns there tonight to headline in support of their just released sophomore album, "Again ... Again," recorded with Lance Conrad of the Alpha Centauri and featuring cameos from local leading lights like Chris Koza. Judging from early spins of singles like the gently rollicking "Sunday's Best," Ada Jane is poised to expand its following greatly as their brand of workman-like rock has never sounded better. (9 p.m., $5, 18+)
Never Been Better
Earnest and (for the most part) talented songwriting from Minneapolis. At its best, it feels good in a melancholy way. - Ben Hunter
Never Been Better
It’s been a while (two decades to be precise) since Minneapolis became the first official buzz city of American indie rock. Hüsker Dü, the Replacements and Soul Asylum all hailed from the frigid city. Now, the likes of the Hold Steady (who have since relocated to New York) and Ada Jane appear poised to make the city a beehive of activity once more. Ada Jane is the new name of singer/songwriter Matt Marka’s eponymous project, which released three previous discs. This one finds the band reproducing the kind of boozy, brawly bar band sound that Soul Asylum were most famous for. Their sound is a raw mish-mash of sweeping lounge jazz (“Everybody Else Bailed”), Blue Rodeo/Wilco-inspired alt-country (“This is My Broom” and “Backing Down Again”) and straightforward rockers (“On Your Level” and High to Low”). Marka’s lyrics are a fitting street level complement to the music. The disc’s greatest shortcoming is its production, which sounds tinny and thin but not in a good way. A little more umph on the bottom end and this could have been a real winner. (P.A.W.) -Stuart Green
Never Been Better
Minneapolis has never been short on punch-drunk, punked-up power-pop, and Ada Jane (formerly know as the Matt Marka Band) is a classic example of just that. Lead singer/guitarist Marka, whose voice ranges from broken-hearted near-whispers to ear splitting howls (sometimes in the same song), manages to keep things interesting all the same.
All in all, a satisfying collection of hard-n-soft pop, rick and romantic razzle-dazzle that should proudly join the ranks of such local stalwarts as mid-period Mats (The Replacements) on the Twin Cities Wall of Rock n Roll Heartbreakers. Good stuff, gnag I’ll be spreadin’ the word. - Tom Hallett
Never Been Better
Ada Jane hail from Minneapolis, Minn., and you don't have to get very far into the band's latest record before that fact smacks you right between the eyes. "On Your Level," the second track on Never Been Better, has the underdog anthem qualities of classic Replacements, Matt Marka singing in a rough-throated howl over guitars that have the wild fury of Bob Stinson but the lo-fi buzz of Hüsker Dü-era Bob Mould. The mellow "This Is My Broom" may reference the Replacements' "Left of the Dial" in its first verse, but the gentle, vaguely country ballad would sound more at home in the Jayhawks' songbook. There's even a tinge of Soul Asylum in the rocker "High to Low," easily the album's highlight.
Yet despite some obvious touchstones, Ada Jane have a sound all their own. After three albums as the Matt Marka Band, the band's first album under its new moniker stretches out in all kinds of directions, yet contains a surprising cohesiveness. There are blistering rockers (the Kings of Leon-ish blues workout "You'll Never Be Satisfied"), yearning ballads (the dark "Everybody Else Bailed," featuring lovely backing vocals by Larissa Anderson), and even bouncy pop ("The Wayside," a song that slaughters Barenaked Ladies at their own game). Yet despite the variety, the songs are tied together by Marka's pleasingly ragged voice and a guitar style that impeccably fills in just the right blanks in every song. Though the tempo slows throughout, Never Been Better never loses a listener's interest, holding a consistent mood and consistently high quality throughout its 11 tracks.
Ada Jane is obviously a labor of love for Marka, and was recorded on the cheap and definitely sounds like it. The lo-fi sound isn't a detriment to the album overall—especially on the guitars, which sound great with a little bit of grime on them—but there are a few times where a little more polish would have pushed already good songs to greatness. The biggest way that the production fails is in the drums. Charlie Wilson is certainly a fine drummer, but with his kit so thin in the mix, some of the rockers (particularly the previously mentioned "On Your Level" and the careening rocker "Tally Up") sound empty without some more muscle behind the percussion.
Still, with uniformly strong songwriting played by a tight power trio, Matt Marka and Ada Jane have crafted a fine first album that's definitely worth seeking out. A- RIYL: Minneapolis rock, circa the late-'80s - Jason Green