HEAR THIS: Mark Russell 'Takes Two', Goes Solo

Where all my girls (and boys) at who were rooting for the likes of the 2008-era American Boy Band (only to have their dreams crushed)? You know, the Holy Trio. NLT. V-Factory. Menudo. Those guys.

If you were all 'bout it back then like I was, you were probably already aware the three toured together via the (Boy) Bandemonium Tour in 2008, packaged by sparkling pop extraordinaire and every fangirl's favorite manager, Johnny Wright (at that time anyway -- now it'd probably be Simon Cowell or Scooter Braun, depending on whether you dig 1D or the Biebz, respectively). You might also recall the three groups also touted around a duo group of equally handsome dudes who -- bonus points -- played guitar in lieu of cheographies in the fledgling group Mark & James. (You can hear their single "Best I Never Had" via this fan-made lyric video here.) The duo was essentially an "opening act", but also acted as MC during the tour. I was introduced to them mostly via the series of hilarious "diary" videos that featured all four groups -- they are still available on YouTube so check them out.

Not totally unlike the three aforementioned, Mark & James (who happened to be BFFs and college roommates, and were promoting their debut album while still in school) also parted ways, but not before also opening up on the road for the likes of OneRepublic, Avril Lavigne, the Jonas Brothers, The Veronicas, Hanson, Robin Thicke & Jon McLaughlin. Member Mark Russell maintained ties with the Wright Entertainment Group and has since gone solo. It was a bit strange to lump them in with such packaged boy bands to begin with, as their music was much more acoustically driven, and its a sound that Mark continues to put forth with his excellent solo works.

Mark Russell, looking a bit like a cross of Ryan Tedder, Chris Richardson & Blake Lewis...and I'm okay with that.
 
2011's One Take earned interest from the folks at iHeartRadio and features one of my favorite cuts by him, his debut single in "Dance", a very OneRepublic-esque jam that had not one, not two, but three music videos.


His most recent release, Take Two, hit shelves last month and is a full 13-track album (that does not include "Dance", it should be noted) that's available for perusal on Spotify. It features more of Mark's soulful pipes and is heavy on the guitar leanings. It's full to capacity to hidden gems -- my favorites being "Love Is War", "City Lights" (both featured also on One Take) and "Close My Eyes". "Eyes", at the very least, deserves a bit more production polishing for a radio treatment -- what a  great winter single it'd be! If you're looking for a fresh new voice in your pop music library -- I suggest you look no further. The album is available for purchase on iTunes.

For more updates on Mark, follow him on Twitter via @IAmMarkRussell.

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