You might be new to Steve Marino’s music, but Steve Marino is definitely not new to music. From fronting alt-rock outfit Jacky Boy to performing in groups like Bugg and Angel Du$t, Marino has been making serious noise for the better part of a decade. Though he’s known as a touring member of some of the most rocking bands around, his bag of tricks doesn’t end there, and now with his new album, Too Late To Start Again, Marino is stepping into the spotlight with one of the most catchy and instantly loveable guitar records of the year.
Originally hailing from Florida, Marino moved to Bloomington, Indiana to participate in a small-town music scene that consistently punched above its weight. He’s since relocated to Los Angeles, and Too Late To Start Again reflects his change of scenery. Where 2019’s Fluff was a nostalgic, intimate navigation of love and life in a college town, Too Late To Start Again is sonically sunny and optimistic, with FM-friendly flourishes that retain DIY instincts and lyrical world-weariness.
Despite outwardly being a “solo record,” a spirit of collaboration is deeply embedded throughout Too Late to Start Again. “These are songs I wrote and demoed in my bedroom,” Marino says, “But inviting other people into the studio who I respect and trust keeps me open minded. Loosening my grip over ‘my’ songs has only served me well.” Teaming up with producer Ben Lumsdaine, the pair have crafted a record that marries the pop rock polish of Sheryl Crowe and Third Eye Blind with crate-digger bonafides like Marshall Crenshaw or Smudge. Additionally, the record features playing from Matt Berry (The Berries, Big Bite) and Kora Puckett (Bugg, Narrow Head), who further enliven the songwriting with their deft guitar work.
But don’t get it twisted: Too Late to Start Again is not simple genre-revivalism. This record is a sincere expression of Marino’s lifelong love for this kind of music. “A huge factor in writing these kinds of songs is capturing memories,” he says. “From gifting So Much For the Afterglow to my mom for Mother’s Day to my dad listening to Oasis on his boombox – I want to make sounds that teleport me to when I was a kid.”
Tracks like “Got You In My World Now” and “Tune You Out” are packed with hooks and tailor-made for blasting out of an open car window. Elsewhere, “Leaning Off The Sun” and a tender Teenage Fanclub cover invite moments of sweet introspection. Multi-tracked harmonies and danceable drum patterns are in abundance throughout the record, imbuing the songs with an approachable vibrancy that makes Too Late To Start Again distinct.
While the record reflects a tonal shift in Marino’s musical output, it also operates as a sort of spiritual return to form; a journey inward to a more authentic sense of self. According to Marino, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve reconnected and immersed myself in the music surrounding my youth and have more confidently settled into my identity as a power-pop, alt-rock, whatever you wanna call it, songwriter.” Likewise, the title of the record itself – Too Late to Start Again – further embodies Marino’s candid self-understanding: “I’ve been doing this music thing for a while now,” he reflects, “I used to get frustrated comparing my success with others my age, but being in my 30s now, I realize I’m past the point of starting over. Trying to make a living touring and recording music is the one thing I want to do with my life, period.” The result is an honest testament to a songwriter’s dedication and passion for music, and an incredibly enjoyable rock & roll record that proves Steve Marino still has so much to say.
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