Brother 'Hood

Philly kids Marah mine the sights and sounds of their hometown for a brilliant sophomore effort

Adult alternative radio stations who've already forgotten who the Counting Crows were and are probably fed up waiting for another Wallflowers album should have no trouble embracing Kids' first single, "Point Breeze." The track is also the one drawing the most Springsteen comparisons, most likely fueled by the inclusion of an acoustic version of "Streets of Philadelphia" as the song's B-side.

"I'm a huge fan of Bruce, the way he writes songs, and I'm certainly a big fan of the first couple of records," nods Bielanko. "I see the comparison, but in a song like 'Point Breeze' where people hear Bruce, I was actually attempting to write a Lou Reed song. But it's cool because it's coming from the right place; people who listened to Dion Di Mucci and Phil Spector. And I'm listening to that, too."

"I'm definitely into rock 'n' roll right now," he continues. "I'm really digging these Steve Earle shows, they're inspiring. I'm listening to Bruce, and the Replacements have always been my favorite rock 'n' roll band. Things that are well-written and sincere. If it's real, we're digging it."

Philly's finest: Marah, with singer Dave Bielanko, in hat, apparently trying to capture Rocky Balboa's "Gazzo" period look.
Michael Branscom
Philly's finest: Marah, with singer Dave Bielanko, in hat, apparently trying to capture Rocky Balboa's "Gazzo" period look.

In the same breath, Bielanko offers that Marah may be nearing the dawn of a new period creatively. "The next record's going to have more melody, more rock 'n' roll," he stresses.

Though it seems an admirable goal, such a shift might be a potential cause for worry, that outside influences may smooth Marah's rougher edges, much the way manager/producer Jon Landau did with Springsteen. Like Marah, the Boss' early songs were populated with colorful characters in life-or-death situations. It seemed he chronicled every fleeting detail that sped by in his rearview mirror until reaching the Darkness on the Edge of Town, where the innocence got lost and every character was a loner stuck in dead-end city and a go-nowhere situation.

Bielanko, for his part, won't have any of that kind of talk. "Marah's still speeding around in a van," he says, laughing. "But we're gonna arrive somewhere pretty soon."

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