Pleased to Create and Release His New Album
With a Little Help From His Friend Stew
Los Angeles, CA (10/24/03) - On March 2, 2004, Nomenclature Records is pleased to release At Apogee, the debut album by multi-faceted music-artist Mr. Smolin. Beloved by Los Angeles music-going audiences, radio listeners, readers, and literature students alike, Mr. Smolin has teamed up with modern pop genius Stew—whose band The Negro Problem has been attracting accolades for nearly a decade—to bring forth a song cycle that manages to be swanky and serious at the same time, a sterling journey from the outer limits to the innermost Self, via melodies that infiltrate the brain and lyrics that want your attention. With Stew bringing his golden touch to the project as Producer and Muse, At Apogee has a lushness and a depth that makes it unlike just about any other release in pop music today.
Mr. Smolin is the performance moniker of Los Angeles songwriter Barry Smolin, aka Shmo. Best known publicly as the host and producer of the psychedelic radio show “The Music Never Stops” on KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California, Smolin has been writing songs for 25 years in a variety of genres, finally settling on a piano-based offbeat sound that reflects influences ranging from Stephen Foster and Hoagy Carmichael to poet-composers like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to pop eccentrics like Gilbert O'Sullivan and David Werner as well as theatre composers like Jerome Kern and Stephen Sondheim, among many others. Smolin's aesthetic, though, retains its own forward-thinking originality, with one foot in the avant-garde and one in Tin Pan Alley, stressing strong, memorable melodies and challenging, poetic lyrics. Smolin aspires to create artful music that is equally at home in nightclubs, on legitimate theatre stages, and wafting through the dankest bohemian loft-spaces.
His debut album At Apogee boasts performances and other contributions by some of L.A.’s finest musical talents. Stew not only produced the record, but also sings harmonies and plays some bass, some guitar, and emulates a horse. Stew’s Negro Problem cohort Heidi Rodewald chimes in vocally as well. Also on hand are former Negro Problem drummer Josh Baldwin, horn virtuoso Probyn Gregory (of Brian Wilson’s band and The Wondermints), the surf-noir band Double Naught Spy Car (Paul Lacques, Marc Doten, Marcus Watkins, and Joe Berardi), television writer Seth Kurland (“Mad About You”, “Friends”, “8 Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter”) who makes several hallucinatory vocal appearances and longtime Smolin musical collaborator singer/guitarist Harvey Canter of the local psychedelic rock group Ruby Flux.
With its earth-from-a-distance perspective and Kierkegaardian vibe, its spacey dirges and epic extravaganzas, At Apogee resists being labeled: “What impresses me most is how little it sounds like anything else,” writes Village Voice critic Richard Gehr, who describes At Apogee as “Psychedelic Cabaret Music.” Other critics have also responded positively to Smolin’s rookie effort. Wired magazine’s Steve Silberman praises At Apogee for its “great melodies, gorgeous lush arrangements, hooky tunes you can't get out of your head, and very appealing warm psychedelicized production punctuated with super-hip horns and touches by Stew.” Silberman goes on to call At Apogee, “A marvelous, weird, brilliant album.” And Shaun Dale of Cosmik Debris describes the work of Mr. Smolin as “melodically complex but invariably accessible, with enough hooks to outfit a fishing fleet, tap-your-toe beats and singalong choruses aplenty.”