Decorated (2014)

by Lazarus Moan

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The sophomore effort by this veteran Montreal band delivers exquisitely-crafted and heartfelt alternative pop, with a dash of acoustic psychedelia and a healthy dose of straight-up rock thrown in for good measure.


Lazarus Moan is a 4-piece musical wonder with great songs, peerless musicianship and a noteworthy track record. Founded in the late 90's as Li'l Buck by singer/songwriter Mark Goodwin, keyboard man Bobby Stagg, drummer R.D. Harris, and bassist Stuart Patterson, they set out to play "roots rock" with a twist, while leaving plenty of room for the unexpected. With influences ranging from Gram Parsons through NRBQ and various punk rock and psychedelic filters, they spent their formative years in Montreal cooking up a catalog of material that was as powerful musically as it was dark and evocative lyrically. Within a short period of time they had several recordings under their collective belts as Lil’ Buck ('Sometimes Nothing is a Real Cool Hand' and 'Soon') and busied themselves with numerous local gigs as well as travelling back and forth to southwestern Ontario and Vermont.

In 2000, following the departure of Bob Stagg and vocalist Jenny Gilbert, the band decided to mine an already present vein of alt-rock in their music and invited guitarist Ron Stutz into the fold. With the line-up change and aesthetic shift, they decided that a name change was also in order and became Lazarus Moan. As well as being consummate tunesmiths, the group are also known as one of the best "back up" bands for such talents as Mack Mackenzie (3 O'Clock Train) and the late Ian Stephens.

In addition Goodwin has produced (and the band has provided their playing skills on) recordings by the Blue Seeds, Little Birdie (Orit Shimoni), The Jimmyriggers, and most recently The Diamond Roads.

Lazarus Moan will release ‘Decorated’,their follow up to 2010's 'Sunrise' , in September of 2014

". . .music that evokes the Kinks, the Turtles, Syd Barrett and Al Green, among others." - Bernard Perusse, 'Montreal Gazette'

Full Gazette article here:

MONTREAL — The energetic burst of the horn-driven pop-rock track Watch Me Pretend — which opens Decorated, the second disc by Lazarus Moan — would fit quite nicely beside the evergreen ’60s classic Time Won’t Let Me. That memorable single was by the Outsiders, a name that seems highly appropriate for the Cleveland band that chalked up one big hit. And it could aptly describe, almost five decades later, their kindred spirits in Montreal, who have stood at a safe distance from the city’s cyclical buzz for some time now.

Mark Goodwin, Lazarus Moan’s singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer, clearly has no illusions about a possible comeback for smartly recorded music that evokes the Kinks, the Turtles, Syd Barrett and Al Green, among others.

“World domination is more like downtown domination for us,” Goodwin joked during a recent interview at the Cheval Blanc bar, with drummer R.D. Harris at his side. “Fifty Phil Ochs fans can’t be wrong.”

The reference was to a phrase the late folksinger Ochs put on his 1970 Greatest Hits album — a self-deprecating subtitle parodying Elvis Presley’s 50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.

“We were never part of a scene here,” Harris said bluntly, in a tone that suggested it was never Lazarus Moan’s mission in the first place.

“We have and we haven’t. I think initially, we were,” countered Goodwin. The group had its origins as Li’l Buck, an alt-country band with a following, formed in 1993 by Goodwin and keyboard player Bob Stagg, who brought in Harris and bassist Stuart Patterson. The fledgling band, with vocalist Jenny Gilbert, started rehearsing at Harris’s place and at G Sharp Bar, Barfly’s earlier incarnation. Stagg’s departure, and some unsuccessful attempts to fill the keyboard seat, led to the addition of guitarist Ron Stutz in 1998.

“The sound started to shift,” Goodwin said. “It was becoming more of a rock band, more of a psychedelic band, more pop-rock.” Ultimately, he said, that new direction brought with it a name change.

“Li’l Buck (evoked) that accordions-blazing, cowpunk thing, so the name went a little sour on us. Plus there were too many Li’ls. Some were zydeco people, some were rappers,” Goodwin said.

So Li’l Buck breathed its last in 2000 and Goodwin, Harris, Patterson and Stutz gradually started working on new material. “The songs were getting a bit darker,” Goodwin said. “The lyric content has always been a little bit on the shadowy side, but now, somehow, the music was fitting the lyrical content for us in a way that made sense.”

The more sombre tone was in evidence on Sunrise, the stellar 2008 debut disc by the newly christened Lazarus Moan. The name, from a Goodwin song that was never recorded, is both a metaphor for a hangover and a speculation on the sound that could have been made by the biblical Lazarus — who, Goodwin suggested, might not have been all that thrilled about being raised from the dead.

During the six-year gap between the debut disc and its new successor, the members of Lazarus Moan also fashioned themselves into anglo Montreal’s roots-rocking answer to the Wrecking Crew, the legendary American session musicians who backed up one ’60s hitmaker after another.

While the Lazarus Moan portfolio doesn’t include chart-topping household names, the group members have helped bring sparkle to excellent albums by local artists like the Jimmyriggers, the Diamond Roads and Little Birdie, with Goodwin producing. They also did live backup work for Three O’Clock Train frontman Mack MacKenzie.

Decorated, a punchier, more instantly accessible disc than Sunrise, has sounds and arrangements that seem to come from all over the place. And that makes perfect sense, given the scope of influences that have shaped the band members, some of which aren’t overtly — or even remotely — identifiable in the final sounds.

While it’s not surprising to hear Goodwin and Harris wax rhapsodic about Brian Wilson, NRBQ or the Replacements, for example, it’s less expected to hear them talk about the effect Captain Beefheart or the Cramps had on them. Nor can you see it coming when Harris, who grew up in Pointe Claire, identifies his drumming gods as Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jethro Tull’s Clive Bunker and Ian Paice of Deep Purple.

Lyrically, Goodwin said, the new disc bears some relation to its predecessor, giving the ecological protest song Jack Horner’s Problem as an example. But while he cautioned against putting the lyrics to the superb closer Stars under a microscope, he suggested that great songs can exist without lyrics that hold up on the page, at least in rock n’ roll. “I think the best rock music is this weird combination of lyrics that may mean something and music that definitely means something — but the lyric is given its import by the music, somehow,” he said.

“The fact that traditional rock and pop are a niche thing now is not lost on us, but that’s not how we’re approaching it,” Goodwin said. “We write organically. It’s what comes out. We covered a few musical food groups that were a little surprising on this one.”

The marketplace for those far-reaching songs is an abstraction, Goodwin acknowledged, citing an interview with David Bowie’s longtime producer, Tony Visconti, who complained that the business throws all its money at, perhaps, three “sure thing” artists a year.

“The industry’s really broken, so if you want to play music, you’ve really gotta want to play music,” Goodwin said. “I don’t even know what the industry is — other than Bieber and Beyoncé — anymore.”

Even so, the obvious commercial obstacles haven’t impeded excellent English rock music from being made in Montreal, Goodwin said. “It depends what stone you’re looking under,” he said. “I’ve seen lots of little bands. Some sound great. Others don’t. It’s always the same. But there’s still something about getting up on a stage and making a big noise that makes you happy.”

And performing and recording with this particular lineup is exactly the noise Harris is delighted to be making again. “Lazarus Moan is our sacred spot,” he said.

Lazarus Moan launches Decorated on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur St. E., with Andre Kirchhoff as support act. Admission costs $5, although $10 will also get you a copy of the CD. The disc is also expected be available through CD Baby, iTunes and Bandcamp within a week.


released August 20, 2014

R.D. Harris - Drums, percussion
Mark Goodwin - Vox, guitars, strings
Ron Stutz - Guitars, vox
Stuart Patterson - Bass, contrabass

Horns by Brass Connection: Richard Trépanier, saxes, flute;
Pierre Sickini, trumpet, flugelhorn; André Verreault, trombone.

Lyrics by Mark Goodwin

Recorded and mixed by: Jacques Deveau
Produced by: Mark Goodwin



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Lazarus Moan Montreal, Québec

Lazarus Moan (formerly Li'l Buck) are a longstanding Montreal-based band who specialize in the fine art of song craft and soulful performance. These four men make a loud, proud noise that can shift to nuanced balladry in the blink of an alt-rock eye. Their most recent effort, "Decorated" exemplifies these qualities in perfect balance. Look around, listen to some music. Moan along with Lazmo! :) ... more

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