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Eugene Weekly : Music : 2.3.11

 

Two Bills Make One WOW of a Week

Marcy Playground, Jackie Greene hit town

by andy valentine

The 90s was a time of sifting for a lot of people ã sifting through some utterly rancid shit in order to dig up a good record, that is. Looking back at the decade, its sometimes fun to polish off the gems that almost drowned in the sea of boy bands, girl groups and Limp Bizkits. Marcy Playground is one of those gems ã although their single "Sex and Candy” was nearly dragged into the underworld of quintessential •90s pop ã and so it was something of a shock to hear that the band is dropping in this week to play WOW Hall.

Breakin out of the 90s ã •90s style ã Marcy Playground swings into WOW Hall Tuesday
Jackie Greene

The average response to this news is probably: "Wait, what? Theyre still around?” And this is more than justified. But what really needs to be asked is: "What the fuck happened to Marcy Playground?” The answer is more intriguing than you might think.

Marcy Playgrounds eponymous LP was released in 1997, and garnered significant attention and mainstream success. The album is post-grunge meets 90s pop, folk and rock to create a solid ã and remarkably original ã effect. Acoustic guitars, often layered, push to the foreground of many tracks, while John Wozniaks vocals ring out beneath it all in a calm, dull drone. Other tracks, such as "Sherry Fraser” and "One More Suicide,” find Wozniak up front, singing his heart out. With the album now past the platinum mark, and "Sex and Candy” remembered for its 15-week streak at number one, its hard to imagine that every other album the band recorded skipped the charts, and the minds, of everyone. But alas, this is exactly what happened; in fact, the band hasnt had a song chart since 1999s "Its Saturday,” which only reached 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.

Since then, the band has released two albums, MP3 and Leaving WonderlandÄ In a Fit of Rage ã which most people shrug at, seeing as they havent even thought about Marcy Playground in almost a decade. Its easy to see why 2004s MP3 didnt really make it: granted, the album is solid, but its just soÄ 90s. By 2004, most mainstream music had moved away from that cutesy ditty pop rock, but for some reason John Wozniak decided it was time to start writing just that. As for the 09 release Leaving Wonderland, its more of the same. The production is better, and the songwriting remains solid, but its far removed from the target sound of the new millennium.

Heres to hoping the wondrous sounds of Marcy Playgrounds first LP will grace their setlist Tuesday.

But before that, on Feb. 3, Jackie Greene arrives at the WOW. Rootsy, wholesome and eclectic ã Greenes music easily earns these adjectives. The California singer-songwriter decided to get serious in 2004 when he made a makeshift studio in his garage, where he recorded and burned his music. And over time, he gathered enough money to release his debut, Rusty Nails, entirely by his lonesome. If thats not thrifty, I dont know what is.

Since then, Greene has shot into the limelight, touring with all kinds of crazy people ã B.B. King, Phil Lesh, Taj Mahal, among others ã and playing major festivals like Bonaroo and Outside Lands. His most recent release, Till The Light Comes, shows just how far hes come as a songwriter and composer. Its a collection of fun, soulful anthems crafted mindfully in the traditions of folk, Americana and the blues. Watching Greene live is proof enough that he truly feels what he sings. On stage, eyes closed, he pulls you into his world ã a world of pure fun and relaxation.

Jackie Greene & Lauren Shera play 8 pm, Thursday, Feb. 3 at WOW Hall; $15 adv. $18 door; Marcy Playground, Acidic & Dirty Wink play 8 pm, Tuesday, Feb. 8, at WOW Hall; $12 adv. $14 door.