singer / songwriter / mutli-instrumentalist / producer
a six-song passion play whose shrewd title accrues ironies with each front-row observation of the city’s dream-making industries—how they engulf and distort, turn people into product, lovers into enemies, life into a non-stop command performance.A young Elvis Costello might have penned the stylish, sex-as-combat opener “That’s On You” (“If tears are your weapons, bring the rain”). A survivor Kurt Cobain might have launched the performer’s inquisition “Debutante,” whose laser-guided disses end up implicating the singer (“Ten o’clock it’s time to hit the stage/Now you remember how your bills get paid”). Whether due to time or urban angst, Litman’s perceptions and wit have sharpened to the point that the acerbic, sometimes brutal lyricism on Primetime matches the expected deadly musicianship and sure sense of pop songcraft--all of which are bathed in a noisier electronic ambience (think Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) and immersive sound design that frames a hardboiled noirish observer whose heart, by the final tracks, beats all too painfully for what’s lost and still worth saving.
Litman was born in Minneapolis, playing piano by age six and guitar by ten. Having been reared on grunge and metal, he eventually became hooked on the melody-driven classic rock of the Beatles and Beach Boys as well as the gritty melodic rock of Minneapolis mainstays The Replacements, Soul Asylum, and the Jayhawks. After being tuned into the music of Miles Davis by a guitar teacher, he dropped into the deep end of jazz, eventually earning a degree from Indiana University’s prestigious jazz program. After college, he followed his growing love of classical music to New York City, where he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, earning his master’s degree in classical guitar.
Somewhere on the homestretch to an actual doctorate in classical guitar (yes, they have them), Litman turned to face the awful truth: his true talent wasn't for gnarly Spanish concertos but post-punk American three-minute pop songs. Upon the release of his 2009 debut Postscript, critics clearly agreed, comparing its jolts of gritty, melodic Americana to the likes of Matthew Sweet, Michael Penn, and Rhett Miller. As the multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter worked on his follow up, 2012’s Outside, he carved a place in New York City’s music scene. Litman recorded Outside throughout 2011 in Minneapolis and New York, co-producing it with his old friend, Andy Thompson (Dan Wilson, Jeremy Messersmith), and recording with two early heroes: drummer, Michael Bland (Prince, Soul Asylum) and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (Jellyfish, Beck). While its predecessor spilled out of grief from a brutal break-up, Outside lives in the wiser, uncertain present—grappling with the daily struggles of modern life as an independent artist in a rapidly changing personal and musical landscape.
Litman currently lives and works in New York City as a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He has recently completed work on a new EP, Crowded Hour, which is due for release in 2017.
Anything else -
with Bird Streets in 2016
(photo by Annie McCain Engman)
In addition to his work as a songwriter and recording artist, Jeff is also active as a side-musician, recording engineer, and producer, providing instrumental (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals) and production services to a diverse group of artists and songwriters both on stage and in the studio.
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