Stand Out Albums has been a showcase for my favorite albums across the vast performers that I love. Covering a little bit of everything from classic rock to country hits, much like Key Movies of My Life, it has been the albums that shaped me. This year, I am taking a slightly different approach by discussing the discographies of my favorite musicians, album by album, in release order.
Today we discuss the most recent full length album from one of my favorite bands. While we still have a couple more releases to go, this is the last actual album that has been released in over ten years. Lets hope we get something even this good with the next release.
Why This Album?
Upon hearing Sex and Candy, I fell in love with the song styling of Marcy Playground. There was something unique and honest about John Wozniak and his band that really hit the right nerve for me at the time. Music had just gone through a bit of a renaissance in the early nineties with Grunge but near the end of the decade, music was all over the place. From the early rise of Emo to the Backstreet Boys and boy bands flooding the airwaves, there wasn’t much in the way for new music for me. Sure there was many of my favorite bands still churning out tunes but I wanted something unique, something special and that is when I discovered Marcy Playground. Marcy Playground had that driving rock sound but with the cool sensibilities of poetic songwriting. Simple riffs, fun fantasy references and clever lyrics made their first album something special, sure everyone knew it for their radio hit Sex and Candy but it was so much more than just that one song.
Even after the initial hype from their hit single, I continued listening to their music. In ’99 they thrilled me with music referencing classic cartoons with Shapeshifter and a few years later (2004) their album MP3 (a clever play on words, get it?) hit us hard with the beautiful song Jesse Went to War but then…nothing. Seriously it was as if the band literally fell off the map. No news, no info, just gone. I mourned a bit, enjoyed what I had, went searching for any other remaining tracks and, finding only a handful via Myspace, (Yeah I know) I acknowledged that one of my favorite bands was indeed gone after only three albums. A sad, but not uncommon, occurrence to be honest, sometimes we are lucky to get one album from a good band these days.
Then, five years later, John Wozniak dropped what could be considered the bands finest work to date. Entitled Leaving Wonderland…In A Fit Of Rage, this album was a welcome addition to the small discography of Marcy Playground. Immediately, I noticed that, in the five years of silence, Marcy Playground had grown up. Gone were the goofy fun songs about cartoons, wizards and Pigeon Farms, we now had a more introspective lineup of songs that still had that certain something that only Marcy Playground could give.
Even though they had changed in the years between, they had become more mature and so had I. This was an album that spoke to me as an adult, and it seemed, in a way, that they had been holding this album back for just the right time in my life. Discussing everything from Volatile relationships (Devil Woman) to a song that sounds like it could have been written by the blues masters of old (Memphis), this was an album that was meant for those who loved the band, not for their quirky oddness, but for their talent that was underneath it all along. It is nearly a perfect album and, I hate to say it, could be a fitting swan song for the band.
There are two tracks that spoke to me the most on this album. The first one is track 11 Thank You. It is one that touches me deeply on a personal level but also feels as if John is thanking us, his fans, for being there, waiting for him to bring us more music.
Next up, Track 8, Good Times. This one has come back to me many times over the years. It is one that I listen to when times are tough or when I have lost someone in my life. It is one that I share with friends who are going through sad or difficult times. It is my reminder that, no matter how hard life gets, just pick up and keep moving on, ’cause that’s the very best thing to do.
This is the acoustic version and is my favorite song of theirs hands down.
Ok, Where do I get it?
It looks like the album is out of print at the moment but you can certainly listen to it on Spotify and it is totally worth it. Here is a link to the album, give it a spin, I think you’ll dig it. You can probably find a used copy on Amazon or at a local music shop somewhere but if not, at least give them a try on Spotify.
I hope one day to get to see these cats live in concert but they rarely make it down into my area these days. Maybe one day I will get to mark this band off my bucket list, one can only hope. If you happen to be lucky enough to see John and the band in concert, thank them for me if you get a chance. Thank them for the great tunes and good times I have had with their music.
Late to the Game 1/11/2022
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Wednesday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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