Stream Primetime... | (view lyrics/track credits)
Maybe nothing more than a decade spent on NYC’s music scene were enough to produce the swagger and sexy menace running through Jeff Litman’s devastating new EP Primetime. A six-song passion play, its shrewd title accrues ironies with each front-row observation of the city’s dream-making industries—how they engulf and distort, make people product, lovers enemies, life a command performance. Whoever Litman’s presumed songwriting peers once were, as of Primetime they include a young Elvis Costello (see: the stylish, sex-as-combat opener “That’s On You” -- “If tears are your weapons, bring the rain”) and a survivor Kurt Cobain (see: the performer’s inquisition “Debutante,” whose laser-guided disses end up implicating the singer). Whatever it was—time, heartbreak, urban angst—Litman’s perceptions and wit have sharpened to the point that the acerbic, sometimes brutal lyricism on Primetime matches its expected deadly musicianship and sure sense of pop songcraft. The new compositions expand on these, with a noisier electronic ambience (think Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) and immersive sound design that frames a hardboiled noirish observer whose heart, by the last tracks, beats all too audibly and painfully for what’s lost and what may still be 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.
that's on you - official video
"ridiculously addictive" -Ellen Carpenter, Nylon Magazine
"Litman forsook his academic training in classical and jazz for this field, as if he majored in McCartney instead. And with strummy should-be-hits like the sneakily-snarky "Everything You're Not," he'd have earned an "A." -Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover
"rich and ambitious" -Meara Anderson, Nylon Guys Magazine.
"the best slice of jangly American rock since Matthew Sweet's heyday." -Rob Nichols, ROCKforward
"[Litman] exhibits that rare ability to come up with melodies and riffs that only take a single play to unfold and become familiar friends" -Mick Dillingham, Art Into Dust
"Just about every song here is impressive" -Aaron Kupferberg, Powerpopaholic
"crafted tunes, organic instrumentation, thoughtful arrangements…Litman has fashioned an album that has enough flair and verve in it to sway the shallow, casual music fan." -Kevin Matthews, Power of Pop
"a record that should appeal to the masses…Jeff Litman solidifies his reputation as a songwriter focused on melody and thoughtful lyrics." -Bill Sullivan, Now This Rocks
"a distinct pleasure" -Bill Kopp, Musoscribe