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Press

"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

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Jeff Litman

is one of the self-sufficient creative factories operating in post-industrial Brooklyn by the Gowanus Canal. Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, he lives among filmmakers, designers, and other accomplished craftspeople who make art in the slanted light of post-Obama America.

After the crafty power-pop moves of 2015's critically beloved Primetime, Litman's latest release, Crowded Hour comes on like the first glimmers of an immersive club drug —a stylistic direction hinted at by Litman’s spacey, melancholic production of “You Only Live Twice,” his and Andi Rae Healy’s contribution to 2017’s all-star compilation, Songs. Bond Songs: The Music of 007 (Curry Cuts). On Crowded Hour, electro nocturnes of fleeting loves and compromised senses evoke a bluer-than-blue state under siege. Its soundscape is an artisanal blend of early-'80s Peter Gabriel and Prince, with an expansive palette of drum-loops scene-shifting from late-night fog to tapping anticipation, while distortion-wrought drones charge certain moments with the noisy transcendence of wizards from Nils Cline to Robert Fripp. The title is a phrase Litman heard attributed to New York's own Teddy Roosevelt, who so described a heroic (and fictional) charge up San Juan Hill that propelled him into the White House. "I'm not sure it has relevance to the album," Litman says of the phrase. "I just thought it sounded cool." But like some pre-dawn stretches of sleeplessness, his latest songs are indeed crowded. With the ghosts, memories, and illusions that visit adulthood in a time-warping age.

"One Foot Forward" opens with a shimmering invocation of someone who's gone but ever-present. A hushed pause before some action with mortal stakes, the song builds to vocal heroics and explosive drama primed for a coming-of-age film's crucial montage. “Only You" falls into this songwriter's sweet spot of love-song titles masking power-pop self-castigation. Its terse yet baroque composition is something you'd hear on a lost Raspberries single; a short suite for Mellotron and female vocal harmonies breezing straight into a fast-and-dirty guitar solo Elliot Easton might've dropped into 8 bars of an early Cars classic. Litman wrote all songs from 2014-15, during a rocky romantic transition, when he still shared the Earth with David Bowie, Tom Petty, and Prince. Each of these far-flung artists has long been a key strand in Litman's distinct sonic weave, but he uses each one's sound and harmonic language with a virtuoso's fluency and fanboy's discretion. With its note-perfect falsetto and subterranean moisture, "Next Affair" executes that impossible fusion of Prince and Elvis Costello, its surreal come-ons telegraphing cynical acceptance of post-Tinder erotic roundelays, where liaisons end as soon as begun. On "Shiny Diamond,” Litman sets the scene with a series of images, like someone studying snapshots from an old photo album, voicing a passing thought of anyone who's spent the better part of their adulthood in Manhattan, telling a former lover in a photograph, “I will never leave your island / and you'll never grow old."

Crowded Hour was released March 28, 2018 and along with Litman’s previous releases, Postscript (2009), Outside (2012), and Primetime (2015) is available anywhere music is streamed and sold.

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Track Credits & Lyrics

All songs written by Jeff Litman ©2008-2018 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved
 

01 One Foot Forward

Jeff Litman - vocals, guitars, organ, bass, percussion, drum programming  /  Elliot Jacobson - drums  /  Andi Rae Healy - background vocals

Drove toward the sunset
from the east end of town
trying to assemble
all the ghosts that I carry around
alright, it’s been a while since I held my breath and leaped into the night this time, I don’t know what I’m drifting toward but the wind feels right

If you are awake,
say my name or touch my face
hold tight, you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side I might be afraid
that if you leave I just might break
hold tight, put one foot forward or you jump out of line

Hard to decipher
all my intentions as the flitter and sway
when all I hold onto
is the excess that circles the drain
(alright) I’ve gotten good at taking no for an answer long before all this
but you’ve got something
that I don’t want to miss

If you are awake,
say my name or touch my face
hold tight, you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side I might be afraid
that if you leave I just might break
hold tight, put one foot forward or you jump out of line

I’ve been the man who talks to much
and I’ve been the one who can’t speak up sometimes they feel the same
I’ve clung to ties and followed lust
I’ve blown with the wind and been a rock

hid my face and dreamed of fame
(alright) we’re building castles made of sand pretending they won’t fall
watching each wave crash
that much closer to the wall

Written by Jeff Litman ©2018 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved
 

02 THAT'S ON YOU

Jeff Litman - vocals, guitars, keyboards, drum programming  /  Elliot Jacobson - drums  /  Andy Thompson - bass, percussion

That was your last chance, I told you
It’s only taken me all year
You always think I’m trying to scold you
but this is sincere

now get the hell out of here

I stack the cards and you swat them away
intentions as crooked as the lines on your face
so go and tell yourself a story
gather what you need to carry it through
if it ain’t what you planned
then baby, that’s on you

It’s always a stick up or a shakedown
if tears are your weapons, bring the rain
I didn’t ask you your opinion
but I’ll play your games

you said you wanted some pain

I stack the cards and you swat them away
intentions as crooked as the lines on your face
so go and tell yourself a story
gather what you need to carry it through
if it ain’t what you planned
then baby, that’s on you

I stack the cards and you swat them away
intentions as crooked as the lines on your face
so go and tell yourself a story
gather what you need to carry it through
if it ain’t what you planned
then baby, that’s on you

Written by Jeff Litman ©2014 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved

03 WHAT HASN'T HAPPENED YET

Jeff Litman - vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, piano /  Andy Thompson - acoustic guitar, mandolin, organ, percussion  /  Maddy Wyatt - background vocals, flute  /  Ben Syversen: flugelhorn / Nathan Koci - french horn / Kevin Moehringer: trombone

Daylight starts to chase away the night
And I know that we might not have much time.
Let’s jump in the van with nothing much to do and see what we can find.

The sticky summer evening is alive.
The cold suburban silence feels alright.
Disappearing tail lights light our path but we won’t follow them tonight.

When you turn your eyes on me,
there’s nowhere else I wanna be.

And, If we can put it off another day,
baby, you can chase my suffering away.
‘Cause for now, I’m just a hungry silhouette,
not quite ready for what hasn’t happened yet.

We’re leaving the reformers in the church.
And all our closest friends are in the lurch.
We’ve over-stayed our welcome, but to hell with them their piety’s absurd.

When I put my hands upon your face,
our little lives don’t mean a thing.

And, if we can put it off another day,
baby, you can chase my suffering away.
‘Cause for now, I’m just a hungry silhouette,
not quite ready for what hasn’t happened yet.

I know we’re running out of luck.
Won’t be long now before we’re stuck.
We both know what we gotta do.
Will it be me? Maybe you?

When you turn your sleepy eyes on me,
there’s no one else I wanna be.

And, if we can put it off another day,
baby, you can chase my suffering away.
‘Cause for now, I’m just a hungry silhouette,
not quite ready for what hasn’t happened yet.

Written by Jeff Litman ©2018 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved
 

04 RUNAWAY

Jeff Litman - vocals, guitar / Andy Thompson - bass, organ / Michael Bland - drums / Jason Wexler - piano / Shanna Zell - background vocals / Bryan Dunn - background vocals

I wasn't everything you hoped.
A disappointing joke that you can laugh at with your friends.
Maybe I was drunk all night.
It doesn't mean I don't know what is wrong and what is right.

Just think it through.
If something better's coming to you

well, alright.
Maybe I'm a vagabond.
Call me anything you want
as you run away.
I won't fight
if you want to turn around,
throw my love onto the ground.
I can't make you stay.

Was it really all that bad?
You forget every single little smile you ever had.
I wasn't everything to you,
but really how much better do ya think your gonna do?

You make the call.
Is your unhappiness my fault.

Well, alright.
Maybe I'm a vagabond.
Call me anything you want
as you run away.
I won't fight
if you want to turn around,
throw my love onto the ground.
I can't make you stay.

I won't take you for a ride
on the wheel that spins around and round and never lets you off.
I won't fight you tooth and nail.
If you want to go I will not hold you down.
But make up your mind,
'cause I'm not sticking 'round.

Well, alright.
Maybe I'm a vagabond.
Call me anything you want
as you run away.
I won't fight
if you want to turn around,
throw my love onto the ground.
I can't make you stay.
 

Written by Jeff Litman ©2011 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved

 

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05 MAINE

Jeff Litman - vocals, guitar, keyboards / Andy Thompson - drums, percussion, mandolin, violin, background vocals / Eric Struve - bass

In a lazy old new england town
I found myself back in my former life.
But the summer’s heat was not so sweet,
the pilgrims’ hats were not so black and white.
And when the winds of change had blown,
I found myself without a home at night.
All those crazy aspirations,
had to cut their respiration off and die.

No, you can’t go home
when everything’s been blown.
So I’ll just scratch the epitaph,
It’s all gonna be ok.
And I’ll leave that silly pipe dream up in Maine.

Well, I came with nothing else to do,
to keep myself from drifting back to you.
But I know it’s useless to pretend,
to rend my garments just to see it through.
So I guess I’ll just jump off the tracks,
and then there ain’t no turning back to do.
All this ceaseless circling to the past,
this carousel has faded out of use.

And no you can’t go home
when everything’s been blown.
So I’ll just scratch the epitaph,
It’s all gonna be ok.
And, I’ll leave that silly pipe dream up in Maine.

How long, how long
must I hold on?
when it feels so wrong,
gonna take this weight off now and I’ll be gone.

Now some will say, back up in Maine
that I wasn’t cut out for chopping wood.
But, I got no spite, they might be right
I wouldn’t change things even if I could.
Well, the time has passed for looking back,
the paint is dry, there’s nothing I can change.
So I’ll stake my lot on what is not,
the future that is all mine to arrange.

No, you can’t go home
when everything’s been blown.
So I’ll just scratch the epitaph,
It’s all gonna be ok.
And, I’ll leave that silly pipe dream up in Maine.

Written by Jeff Litman ©2008 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved

 

06 Shiny Diamond

Jeff Litman - vocals, guitar

There was a flicker of a candle
there was a suitcase and a knife
there was that camera that I bought you
on that damp, stale, starless night
and you were standing with that sullen look on your eyes
that I’ve seen too many times before
and you waved at me almost motionlessly as your white dress dragged across the floor

and you were just a shiny diamond bought on the black market of hope and I will never leave your island and you’ll never grow old

You whispered something unintelligible then you turned and went up the stairs and you furrowed your face
like you heard something strange

and I knew right then that I’d never dare
it’d take a man braver than me
to tread casually in the blindness of my youth but you pushed all my buttons
like Sam to Delilah
and I knew I couldn’t fight this truth

‘cause you were just a shiny diamond bought on the black market of hope and I will never leave your island
and you’ll never grow old

and if you were standing here before me you would be no less of a ghost
and you’d linger in the air forever
like an old burnt up piece of toast

and you were just a shiny diamond bought on the black market of hope and I will never leave your island and you’ll never grow old

and you were just a shiny diamond bought on the black market of hope and I will never leave your island and you’ll never grow old

and you’ll never grow old

Written by Jeff Litman ©2018 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved
 

07 Next affair

Jeff Litman - vocals, guitars, bass, piano, synthesizers, drum programming  /  Elliot Jacobson - drums  /  Andi Rae Healy - background vocals  /  Amanda Gookin - cello  /  Melissa Tong - violin

There’s something amiss
has it really come to this
everything we thought was permanent was fleeting
the people go by
god knows their heart’s as big as mine
would I be relieved if I could just discern some meaning if I could just move
there’d be nothing to lose

but we fall to the floor
stuck in this crowded hour we don’t know what it’s for we rattle the cages just to make the lions roar
and bolt for the door
in the nick of time
afraid of what we might find

I know that look on your face
as if these years had been a maze
and every path you wandered down has led to nothing you soldier on with your act
but you’re too weary now for that
tired clinging to the high ground you’re always seizing if you could escape
walk away without pain

but we fall to the floor
stuck in this crowded hour we don’t know what it’s for we rattle the cages just to make the lions roar
and bolt for the door
in the nick of time
afraid of what we might find

If we could let go
it’d be different I know
but we clamp it down
before the blood begins to flow if we could just move
we’d have nothing to lose

but we fall to the floor
stuck in this crowded hour we don’t know what it’s for we rattle the cages just to make the lions roar
and bolt for the door
in the nick of time
afraid of what we might find

Written by Jeff Litman ©2018 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved

06 Disappear

Jeff Litman- vocals, guitar

I know that I take you for granted
and I wish I could say that would change
but I want to destroy any semblance of heart that I can see coming my way

Now, please don’t mistake my meaning
there’s part of me wants you to stay
but something inside you is making my mind do backflips in the opposite way

and that don’t make me happy but that don’t make me care and you won’t forgive me
but I’ll dare

Well, I’ll probably just fall back on habit and tell you what you want to hear
drink myself blind just to silence my mind and hope that you just disappear

and hope that you just disappear

Written by Jeff Litman ©2018 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved