Marah is a jangly, soulful, gritty, streetwise roots-rock outfit from Philadelphia with a number of friends in high places, some of them better for business than others. Bruce Springsteen loves 'em -- he's given them a big boost by appearing on their albums and inviting them to open gianormous stadium shows. British author Nick Hornby loves 'em, too -- although he should have thought twice before penning his widely scorned Marah "keepin' it real" cream fest in the New York Times a couple months ago (not that the band isn't deserving of high praise, but Hornby baldly exploited them in the service of his real agenda -- an inane blanket indictment of the past quarter-century of rock music). Regardless, it's all about what the fans think, and they're justifiably thrilled that the group's latest, 20,000 Streets Under the Sky, is a terrific, spunky, banjo-laden return to form after the bloated mess that was 2002's Float Away With the Friday Night Gods. Marah's really a fantastic live act -- go and find out for yourself what all the fuss is about. -- Michael Alan Goldberg


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