April 6, 2011
SEPTATION: World Premiere
San Diego, CA
MTV Licences L&A
Will be featured on "The Hills," "The City," two others.
"One of the best songwriters the U.S. has to offer"
—Wildy's World, March 09
A scholar, educator, studio pianist and performing songwriter, Josh Weinstein has emerged as an important voice in contemporary pop composition.
FOLK & ACOUSTIC MUSIC EXCHANGE — Mike Jurkovic
OCTOBER 2006 — Brooklyn Is Sinking quickly erupts into a piano centered, street wise and dark eyes Steely Dan landscape that is an absolute joy to listen to and get lost in. Lyrical in a harsh yet human Tom Waits way with Randy Newman orchestral textures lurking throughout (Sonny is resplendent), Weinstein leaves the usual crowd of folk-based singer/songwriters miles behind (in Staten Island or Queens perhaps?)
Tough (Scared White Men, A Minor Cool (Palimpsest)), lush (She Like), and soulful (take your pick), Weinstein and his superb accompanists...sound like a hybrid of classic artists, but never, and I do mean never, do they sound derivative or imitative. Even if the songs and music weren't as good as it is, just that would be a major accomplishment.
BEING THERE — Adam Miller
OCTOBER 2006 — An almost filmic picture of New York and its various boroughs (though not limited to that region) is painted throughout [Brooklyn Is Sinking]'s twelve tracks. On "Stones," Weinstein conjures up images of a red light district that the narrator has distanced himself from. Meanwhile, "Scared White Men" sets the scene immediately with the lyric "South Boston, 1987. Young black boy of eleven stops to tie his shoe."
Weinstein's voice and intonation recalls a young Tom Waits. In fact, Brooklyn's opening track - "Stones" - wouldn't sound out of place on Heart of Saturday Night. Later on the album, the influence seems to shift ...to Donald Fagen's work as a solo artist and with Steely Dan. The jazz-influenced arrangements, the interesting chord structures, the songs about New York - it all fits. This is especially true on the album standouts "Is And Should Have Been" and "She Like," with its dazzling horn arrangements.
Few artists still exist that are willing to explore the human condition, and luckily Weinstein is one of them. This is a polished album that retains its soul and collects some excellent songs that will hopefully add to Weinstein's existing success as a singer-songwriter. Bravo.
TOP21.COM — John Shelton Ivany
JANUARY 2007 — Josh Weinstein has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and Vin Scelsa's Idiot's Delight. A superb writer and pianist, he has played on numerous radio stations throughout the country.
And with the release of Brooklyn Is Sinking, Josh leaves little to doubt and speculation as to why he is getting national acclaim.
Reminiscent of Tom Waits and Steely Dan, Weinstein is a powerful singer and a witty songwriter. He has put together a collection of dark, instantly appealing, finely crafted tunes with flowing melodies and soulful vocals. This CD is an intricate tapestry of pop and jazz coupled with the unbridled force of articulate, unblinking humanity.
UPSTAGE MAGAZINE — Andrew Peterson
MAY 2007 — Josh Weinstein is a hard man to pin down. His musical style shifts so suddenly and dramatically, it can be hard to keep up. Take equal parts Steely Dan and the Beatles circa 1967, and throw in a little—let's say—Primus for good measure, and you're starting to get the idea.
Although Weinstein performs on Brooklyn Is Sinking with a full band on most tracks, the focus is squarely on him—vocals and keyboard—and it's an interesting organism that emerges as a result. Consider Norah Jones: essentially, she's a pop artist infused with hints of jazz and blues in large enough doses to keep things interesting. Weinstein may be her mirror image: he sounds like a jazz musician at heart with enough spattering of pop to give his songs some sense of structure. To his credit, the recipe Jones is cooking is about as risky as toast. Brooklyn Is Sinking is a perpetual balancing act in which Weinstein is constantly pushing the boundaries of what pop music can entail without ceasing to be, well, popular...
At the end of the day, Brooklyn Is Sinking is a gutsy and sweeping expedition.
BLOGCRITICS — Larry Sakin
DECEMBER 2006 — About fifteen years ago my wife and were in a Greenwich Village eatery when she let it slip that I was in the music business. The waiter...proceeded to audition for me in front of God and everybody in the restaurant.
Had that waiter been half as talented as Josh Weinstein, I'd have signed him on the spot. Sadly, the gifted among us are few and far between, which is why the warbling waiter of Bleecker St. is probably still slinging hash and Weinstein has produced a richly rewarding album.
Brooklyn Is Sinking is Weinstein's second solo album. On it he takes his patented blues-funk style and creates a magnificent, multi-tiered soundtrack filled with electrifying emotion mixed with imaginative compositions that broaden the boundaries of jazz. Much to Weinstein's credit, he avoids channeling the uber-slick Harry Connick, Jr. and myriad lessers, soulfully presenting imagistic songs that fit together in a story line reminiscent of the great filmmaker Godard.
The band sways lithely through Weinstein's staccato pieces, some of which start with a tremendous bang, scuttle to a whisper during the bridge, and then end with an orchestral flourish that may bring avant-garde composer Steve Reich to mind. Throughout the pieces, Diamond and Zhana Saunders add elegiac backing vocals in support of Weinstein's lush tones.
What separates Brooklyn Is Sinking from Weinstein's first solo effort is his use of sampling, capturing street scenes, media cross-talk, and bar room boasts to give the project a seedy, character-driven feel. It's an experiment that pays off, as Weinstein breathes life into the troubled, possessed spirits that inhabit our "world gone crazy."
As good as the music is, what really shines on this album are Weinstein's lyrics, which at times flow with the hard-boiled excitement of a Mickey Spillane novel, and at other times have the philosophical tone of a poem by Ezra Pound. Weinstein writes from deep within himself, committing blood, grit, and sensitivity to paper, creating a highly original masterwork filled with remarkable warmth and craftsmanship.
I don't know if the singing waiter ever got his big break or not. If he hasn't, he might want to pick up a copy of Brooklyn Is Sinking to learn how to become a sensation. You should pick up a copy of Brooklyn Is Sinking simply because it's sensational.
VIN SCELSA —WFUV
"I really like this cat's vibe. A personal favorite deserving of wider attention. A 'Top Discovery' for 2006."
AMERICANA-UK — David Cowling
Picaresque tales of nights spent in bars
JUNE 2009 — Weinstein provides a kaleidoscopic overview of lives spent in bars with the detailed recreation of moods with punchy narratives; he brings his songs to life in a similar way to Tom Waits, by inhabiting the characters and animating them with personality. For me this set of songs sounds like a gritty low rent version of ‘One from the Heart’ without the romantic redemption at the end, it is the seedy neon of Times Square refracted through dirty puddles.
What he does well is to add in details of the characters worlds, the metronomic swoosh of windscreen wipers and the rush of passing traffic are woven into ‘She Rolls Jaunty’ as the character drives his carcass down the highway the kinetic energy of the song pushed along by the piano that follows the white line as faithfully as any car would.
‘Every New York’ is set in a bar, the smoky jazz of atmosphere fills all corners of the song, the bass takes the lead before the piano enters like a vamp and the organ takes the limelight and the hullabaloo of the fictional audience can be heard along with a derisory smattering of applause. The keyboards are the tinder and fuel for ‘Flames’ a slow-burner of a song that lights up when the backing vocals add an extra draft, the song whomps like a gas leak finding a spark. A woozy chorus of horns and a boozy chorus of voices give ‘Tennessee’ a definite Tom Waits feel as does ‘Little Sue (is only Susan now)’. The resemblance is forgivable, Waits has staked out the territory but it doesn’t mean that others can’t try to muscle in and Weinstein has enough ideas of his own to carve out his own place. He doesn’t concentrate on one scenario or sound; he’s full of light and shade, the hinterland between night and day, the gap between love and heartbreak.
HUBBUB-UK — David Cowling
JUNE 2009 — There is an old joke that goes something like, if a man can play the guitar whilst also playing the harmonica he is a musical genius, if he also plays the drums then he is a one man band. The irony being that the more musical influences and talent an artist has to call upon the less credit they will achieve. Josh Weinstein is not a one man band, but Love and Alcohol is very much all about the man and he deserves all the credit that comes his way due to superb songwriting, bags of musical talent, oh and a harmonica. Not a hint of bloke outside Baker Street Station with a top-hat and symbols between his knees here, more a case of a poet on Speaker’s Corner to the background of, well just about everything, from keyboards to ukulele , from trumpet to trombone, crooned by a voice that sounds like it has gargled a hundred Camel Lights for breakfast. This is the third studio Album from Weinstein and arguably the strongest after Petty Alchemy in 2003 and the 2006 follow-up "Brooklyn Is Sinking". Love and Alcohol is fuelled by too little of the former and too much of the latter according to this journeyman who has taken in Colorado, California, DC and Maine before settling back in his native New York and that comes across in tracks such as "Song a Drunk Man Sings" and "She Don’t Listen". Self deprecation is never far away, lines like “I am lonely by design” are short yet poignant though the deep, dark and gritty lyrics are never over done or over heavy with the edge being taken off somewhat by the superb musical arrangement. Blues, Jazz, rock or all of the above this album is a great listen and if there is a dark and smoke filled bar still remaining anywhere in the world then Love and Alcohol belongs right there.
ACOUSTIC MUSIC.COM — Mark S. Tucker
APRIL 2007 — In a political newsletter I publish on the side, I tend to write with…um, well, a bit of Tourette's Syndrome to my sometimes empurpled prose. I mean, how can anyone have lived through the Baboon Bush years and not lose their mind with fair frequency? Well, Josh Weinstein also tends to call a spade a spade and thus grabs my attention before the laser even hits this disc. When spying song titles like Hangoverture and Fuck is Fuck, how can anyone walk away?!?! Then scan the lyric sheet and find:
"Duke of Earl is a tattoo on a back in a cloroxed corner of the bartended room of the girl with the tip jar tits and ATM smile."
"These are the days when we dance alone / This is the age of compression."
"I get stoned instead of feel / Give it words so it's not real / God and me, we have a deal / I don't tell that He don't exist / And He don't look when I'm like this / See, fuck is fuck and kiss is kiss"
…so, hell, I like it! This is Big Apple stuff, the town where they tell ya what they mean rather than wrap it in SoCal, asskissing, yuppy bullshit. The shock comes, then, when the disc opens with an orchestral / jazz downbeat ushering us into a beatnik snappy Every New York and Weinstein's rostrum delivery atop a slightly demented band tipsy in its chops and posture. This is Billy Joel's nightmare, a seedy from-the-gutter tour of the real world, not some high-society yodel with a pseudo side of faux slumming, Charles Bukowski not Barbara Ehrenreich.
The tired and bitter Everyman is so well represented here that it becomes a hot brand on the cheek and heart rather than Radio City and the Rockettes on Channel 7. Something this immersed in booze and the workaday has to echo Waits, and it does, but G.E. Smith's slide guitar edges David Lindley in as well (Smith is a smarmy TV sonuvabitch but, Christ, what an axehandler!), and I can't help but hear a bit of a pissed-off Dylan who never made it to church, ranting to a bottle of chianti in a sleazy hotel room off 38th Street.
Josh Weinstein doesn't so much sing as mutter, reflect, hurl poetry, and lament. He has a superb rhythm section in Paul Ossola (bass) and John Bollinger—especially Bollinger, who runs a sophisticated hand over his traps—but all concerned turn in highly inflected performances perfectly coloring Weinstein's unusual city landscapes rough with dirt, wind, and cold. When you're done, you won't be sure what you're feeling and thus will listen to it again in order to figure everything out, and then again, and again, and again, and…it's that kind of release.
INDIE UPDATE — InBlaze
JUNE 2009 — Here are a few key items that will attract a significant number of fans to this Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter: Tom Waits, piano, Bukowski, off-center, blues, Love & Alcohol. [To be honest, Weinstein had this listener hooked by mentioning Tom Waits.]
From the first bars of “Every New York” Weinstein shows why listeners make the Waits comparison. This is street-level piano blues that might even stretch the genre a bit. Add the flavor of the thumping and groaning of acoustic bass to the club-crowd sounds and what do you get? You get music that makes some peop
le say “Oh, yeah, I’ve been there.”
“One More Blues” has a different feel, if only because of the guitar. Then there is “Song a Drunk Man Sings.” Featuring some great harmonica and a beat that snaps as it should, this tune will attract music aficionados and professional drinkers alike.
Check Weinstein’s latest on the CD Love & Alcohol. Listen to “She Do Not Listen” and fin
d the piano skills of a teacher and student, a player and sleeper (in the sense of they ain’t hits yet).
List of key points about Josh Weinstein: family of musicians; English major; grad school; real-world writer/editor; quit job to devote time to music. Check him out in Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. If you can’t be there, he will be coming to a city near you.
WILDY'S WORLD—Review of Love & Alcohol
FEBRUARY 2009—Josh Weinstein is a philosopher/poet who happens to play amazing piano (plus whatever else he can get his hands on). The New York City based resident of the world has carved out a sound that's part Tom Waits and part Ron Hawkins with a healthy dose of lyrical content a la Charles Bukowski. With the grit and tragedy of life lived a half-step off the streets running through his songs, Weinstein opens listeners' eyes to a world of dark actions fueled by good intentions. Weinstein will release his third album, Love & Alcohol, in the Spring of 2009 (date not yet available). With Love & Alcohol, Josh Weinstein may fully establish himself in critical circles as one of the most talented songwriters the US has to offer.
Josh Weinstein takes great pleasure in exposing the seedier aspects of life on Love & Alcohol. The result is fourteen songs of less than the best of intentions against the backdrop of some deliciously dirty blues arrangements. Weinstein the songwriter wallows in the imperfections of his protagonists, steeped in love, addiction, desire and loneliness. Weinstein the singer/musician delivers an inspired performance that should gather significant critical acclaim. Every New York captures the street-wise grit of another era in New York City. You can almost imagine Kurt Weill's Mack The Knife (ala Bobby Darin) frequenting the sort of clubs this song would have been played in. One More Blues features some inspired guitar work, and Weinstein absolutely lives the song as a performer. This is the sort of performance that gets considered for awards.
She Rolls Jaunty uses a pair of windshield wipers as the primary percussion in a bit of sonic genius. The piano hook at the center of this is amazingly catchy. The arrangement expands to include strings in a slow building crescendo that falls away at times to reveal just Weinstein and piano. Song A Drunk Man Sings is a bit of levity framed by some viscious harmonica work and a filthy bass line. Tennessee is one of the more memorable tunes on the disc, built on a great piano hook and a "March of the elephants"-style bass line. The workman's chorus is also a nice touch. She Do Not Listen is a "moment" song. Amidst all of the action and controlled chaos from which Weinstein's songs spring, She Do Not Listen is a moment of quiet composure. It's a wonderful song that illuminates a side of Weinstein we had yet to see on Love & Alcohol. Other highlights include F**k Is F**k and Trying To Find The Crime.
Josh Weinstein has found a voice that while not unique in popular music is certainly a refreshing break from the norm. Populating his songs and characters in the same fashion as Randy Newman, Weinstein illuminates the darker side of human nature in tunes full of the beauty and angst of the human spirit. It's a musical streets-eye view of the world that is difficult to capture and even harder to convey in song. Weinstein is a bard in blue, and Love & Alcohol is the set list he plays from. It took a few listens to really get into this one, and now I can't put it down. Make sure that Love & Alcohol is on your to-do list.
Reviewer's Rating: Four and half stars (out of five)
Niet gemakkelijk om de songs van singer-songwriter Josh Weinstein te beschrijven. De New Yorker heeft er een handje van weg om blues, folk en jazz in bizarre melodische schriftuur te laten opgaan. Zijn levensloop of reislust is navenant. Hij groeide op in Poughkeepsie. Het zou een van zijn songtitels kunnen zijn en ook niet misstaan naast een titel als ‘Fuck Is Fuck’. Zijn zwerftochten van New York naar Colorado, CaliforniŽ, Washington, Maine en terug naar New York roepen spontaan het beeld op van de rusteloze Kerouac en Neal Cassady. Ergens leunen zijn songteksten ook aan bij de stedelijke chaos, zoals geregistreerd tijdens zijn passage doorheen Amerika. In al die jaren kwam Weinstein aan de kost als barman, opvoeder, copywriter, jazzpianist, compositieschrijver, enz. Alle ervaringen vonden vroeg of laat wel een plekje in Josh’ songs, die zich situeren in de schemerzone tussen highway blues en skyline jazz waar alles door elkaar loopt. Josh heeft een rijke fantasie en speelt met emoties, kleuren, geuren en klanken. Zowel Paul Auster, Rimbaud, John Fante als Shopenhauer zouden zijn literaire inspiratoren kunnen zijn. Wat zijn muzikale invloeden betreft gok ik op Tom Waits, Duke Ellington, Dr. John. En ‘Little Sue (Is Only Susan Now)’ lijkt zo weggelopen uit een Randy Newman album. Zelf speelt Weinstein al even inventief op de pianotoetsen als Randy. Na ‘Petty Alchemy’ uit 2003 en ‘Brooklyn Is Sinking’ uit 2006 duikt deze ‘Love & Alcohol’ opnieuw in nachtelijke atmosferen, tekenend voor een pianist die vaak in bars en clubs inspiratie vond. Met een grootmoeder celliste en een folky moeder in de sixties kan je verwachten dat de telg ook muzikaal aan de slag gaat. Het meeste wat Josh neerschreef evoceert de sfeer van slapeloze nachtelijke uurtjes, gekaderd in een elektro-akoestische setting waar songs blijkbaar geen begin kennen en als waakdromen in elkaar overgaan. Muzikale medestanders in dit suggestief wereldje zijn bassist Paul Ossola en drummer John Bollinger plus orgelist, cellist, violisten, trompettist en nog vele anderen. Ook de aanvullende klankenimprovisatie uit het rariteitenkabinet maakt wezenlijk deel uit van de sound. De stem met pianospel van Josh is het verwarmend bindmiddel dat je inkapselt of meevoert naar mysterieuze plaatsen. ‘Every New York’ is zijn persoonlijke visie op de metropool en ‘She Rolls Jaunty’ is zo melancholisch als een saloon in New Orleans waar de pianist alleen achterbleef. Weinstein’s muziek is warm en cool tegelijk. ‘Tennessee’ met het gezamenlijk koorrefrein en de trombone zweemt naar satire. Voor de songs van Weinstein blijft het zoeken naar een passende omschrijving. Lyrische popfunk, metafysische bluespunk of benevelde slowjazz komen amper in de buurt. In Weinstein’s complexe brein huizen vele muziekjes, allen even geÔnspireerd en boeiend. (Marcie)