Near the end of their song “New Direction,” Nelsen & Farney sing, “So if my style turns you off, please just stop listening.” That’s going to be awfully hard to do given that their latest LP, One For Many Roads, is drenched in mellifluous harmonies and memorable melodies.
Though the song itself is a satirical lashing of the insipid state of mainstream music, the duo, comprised of singer-songwriters Mark Nelsen and Devin Farney, don’t exactly forge an entirely new direction as their music is heavily indebted to past pop masters like Harry Nilsson, Paul Simon, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. But that certainly doesn’t mean they sound like a rehashing of songs already heard, nor do they completely fit in with their contemporary musical peers. They’re taking a sort of Third Way: A route that clearly appreciates classic rock and Americana, but also sees the need to change with the times and incorporate modern elements of the indie rock scene.
This can be heard clearly on the atmospheric “I Breathe,” the pseudo-country twang of “Moonshine” and the bouncy opener “Dear Manny.” It is best expressed, perhaps, on the eponymous closer, with its odd pauses, spoken-word breakdown, and boisterous ending — one full of singalong vocals, burgeoning horns, and a thrillingly bright piano line. If this song doesn’t put a smile on your face, you truly have lost all faith in music. Give it another listen.
This project doesn’t have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can check out Mark Nelsen’s solo band play at the El Rio in December.
Guides, Mark Nelsen (solo), Emily Afton
December 16, 2015
9pm, $5-7 (21+)