All Music Guide

www.allmusic.com

 

Todd Stadtman: Only I Can Save You

****

On his second solo album, singer/songwriter Todd Stadtman moves even further from the retro-futurist synth pop of his earlier band, Zikzak, into a timeless electro-acoustic sound beholden to no particular styles or time periods of pop music's past. It's not that Stadtman has created something entirely unique on Only I Can Save You — fans of the Magnetic Fields in particular will find this album comfortably familiar — but Stadtman's previous work has rarely sounded this self-assured. These 12 songs are as effortlessly catchy as those of pure-pop traditionalists like Fountains of Wayne ("I Don't Know Why She's Here" in particular is a small masterpiece), but Stadtman introduces plenty of oddball textures like the manipulated electronic voices that take the lead on "I'm Good" and neat arrangement touches like the horns that crop up occasionally on the appealing Barenaked Ladies-like bubblegum of "Talking Through My Mouth." Endearingly quirky and utterly charming, Only I Can Save You is a delight through and through.

- Stewart Mason


 

Americana UK 07.02.06

www.americana-uk.com

 

Todd Stadtman “Only I Can save You” (Prix Fixe Records 2005)

San Franciscan Stadtman has a way with melody, at times recalling Scritti Polliti’s Green, both in songwriting and vocals but on this album there are precious few examples that are not spoiled by intrusive programmed drum and keyboard sounds. At times he manages to overcome this obstacle, “The Clock in my Heart” is a great song, indebted to post punk poppers such as Orange Juice, and stands out as a highlight. The next song, “String of Pearls” is another winner but weedy keyboard sounds and an annoying drum track would be better off left in the bin. A pity as there is a talent here that could do with a fully-fledged band sweating behind him.

- Paul Kerr


 

Night Times

www.nighttimes.com

 

Todd Stadtman - Only I Can Save You (Prix Fixe)

 

Stadtman possesses a strong grasp of melodic pop hooks. There is an electronic bent that may jar with its programmed rhythms and sounds but the sharp ‘new wave’ (think: Elvis Costello, Squeeze, XTC) songs tend to make Only I Can Save You pretty much relevant (and hip) for the current modern pop scenesters.

- Kevin Mathews


 

The Fevered Brain of RadioMike 01.09.06

www.thefeveredbrainofradiomike.com

TODD STADTMAN is another one of those rare alternative pop purveyors.  Rare because there are so many but so few that do it so well.  And Todd does it really well.  He does it so well we just may have to revisit his music a few times more when we have the time.

 


 

Spendid Ezine 11.15.05
www.splendidezine.com

Todd Stadtman - Only I Can Save You - Prix Fixe
Artists usually don't have a problem finding something to say -- which isn't surprising, as we've all built up reservoirs of suffering and joy from our dealings with lousy parents, bad dates and annoying Burger King employees, to say nothing of beautiful sunsets, spring afternoons and ice cream cones. The problems come when artists attempt to find creative ways to present these ideas; Mom was right when she told you it's not what you say, but how you say it.

Todd Stadtman is a unique case: somewhere along the line, his situation got flip-flopped. His aesthetics are as alluring as can be: sleek, hypermodern clicks and whistles float around in classic Anglophile pop arrangements, buoyed by sticky vocal melodies. It's like Arthur Lee trapped in an IKEA showroom, or The Junior Boys waking up on Ray Davies's village green. As a lyricist, though, Stadtman provides little in the way of substance -- and before you start yapping about how the meaning of pop songs lies more in the music than the words, be aware that stuff like "If you loved me I could take away the pain, take away the shame, give you all the love that you require" is par for the course here.

It would be easier to let Stadtman off the hook if his songcraft wasn't so damn smart. He can give glitches and hiccupping piano a homespun aftertaste, as he does in "Back to Yourself", then turn around and work just as comfortably with polished sonics that would make Donald Fagen blush. To wit, "Something Less Than Tenderness"'s antiseptic drum machine and meticulously precise guitar notes don't even faze its winsome hook. Lacing these Platonic pop ideals with flaccid lyrics seems dishonest and unfair -- hell, it's probably even immoral. Maybe "I'm Good"'s bustling digifunk is footloose enough to make up for Stadtman's literary misgivings, but that's as far as he goes to save his own hide.

- Phillip Buchan


 

Turquoise Days 09.13.05
www.turquoisedays.blogspot.com

 

Todd Stadtman first came to my attention as half of the duo Zikzak who released a CD 'See You There' in 2000, a collection of new romantic pop driven songs, five years before that became fashionable again. Since then he has released two fine Cds under his own name 2002's 'Anxotica' and this years' 'Only I Can Save You'. All these releases combine Stadtman's love of electro-pop with a blend of bookish lyricism placing him firmly in the Edwyn Collins and lloyd Cole camp with a vocals that remind me of Elvis Costello around the time of his 'Imperial Bedroom' album. Todays songs are taken from the two most recent albums, both of which can be purchased both on iTunes and at Stadtman's own website where you'll also find a bunch more downloads. 

 

 


 

Jersey Beat (Issue #77) 08.05

www.jerseybeat.com

 

Speaking of musicians changing direction, I'm of two minds about TODD STADTMAN and his release, Only I Can Save You (Prix Fixe, 3288 21 Street, #92, San Francisco, CA  94110).  I respect his background with post-indie San Francisco bands like B Team, The Naked Into, and Zikzak, but there's a strong "but".  Let me ease you in.  Todd's songs are pleasant and actually well written, and even though his voice is rough, I don't have a problem with that.  What curls my curlicues is the excess of processed sounds that surrounds his music.  It's obvious with less manipulated songs like "The Clock In My Heart" and "The Life She Dreams" that there is obviously some instrumental dexterity, but the squeaking and squawking of electronica just sits on this like a huge boulder.  I try to avoid recordings that use the word "soundscapes" (in this case, to make matters worse, it's preceded by "synthetic").  I made it through the cd, but bloodied.  If you're someone interested in musical manipulation, then run out to get this.  If you wanna hear some real (non-synthetic) music, be forwarned.  Oh, and if you're interested at all, I am not a fan of Moby's work for the same reason.

 

- Robert Barry Francos

 

 


 

Music Shopper 07.27.05

www.musicshopper.info

 

Todd Stadtman: Only I Can Save You - Prix Fixe Records

Our Rating: 20 out of 100
Quite why ‘Back To Yourself’ starts in a garden [as the sound of birdsong on the breeze would imply] is anyone’s guess and the electronic music element in the song feels like a tribute to the Pet Shop Boys. ‘Something Less Then Tenderness’ sounds like a Cliff Richard song and there’s an awful scratching sound underneath each word in the lyrics - an intrusion that, one can only assume, is intended. ‘Jezebel Jones’ is indistinguishable from the first two tracks on this album and the sentiment expressed in this song about betrayal and the reasons behind the loss of a friend feel false in the eardrums of the listener. Stadtman could be singing about milk bottle tops on a cold and frosty morning near Christmas and the listener would be none the wiser, as the background noises are the same track after track. It’s also not the least bit impressive to put a dodgy echo effect on your voice in the middle of a song.

On track 4, Stadtman wants to tell you that he is ‘Mr Green’. Really? Stadtman is taking on the identity of my old maths teacher? Nice work if you can get it. This record drags to such an extent that it causes its knuckles to bleed. The vocals are slow, without variety and devoid of excitement. ‘The Clock in my heart’ offers the listener an all too brief hope that things might get better. For one thing, the guitar has come to rescue us from the music made on people’s laptops by people who can’t play normal instruments. Once again, the low vocals are irritating and Stadtman appears to be following a “cryptic Indie music by numbers” book when it comes to singing in one tone, one key and one mood throughout an entire record. The way Stadtman lengthens his lyrics by simply repeating a few words at infrequent intervals grates on the listener but at least this particular song feels a bit like music inspired by actual talent.

‘String of Pearls’ brings us hurtling back into the world of electronic music made on beige computers in a tiny flat in Islington by a boy who promised his mum he’d be in bed by ten tonight. In other words, it sounds amateurish. There’s an attempt to make it mysterious by giving the song a bargain basement Halloween mask of odd lyrics and a snippet of keyboard playing. But the attempt fails. Indeed, the song fails. The keyboard takes over and for once brief second an instrument is in charge. An instrument. Not a sound. But no, here we go again, back to the computer, back to the synthesiser. Reality is lost and the record details our descent into melancholic ennui.

On the plus side, people are going to love this music. The way the wind is blowing nowadays in British music, the glum-rock tradition will continue for centuries. To be fair, there are some songs on this album which have potential. That is, the potential not to annoy or bore rigid. Stadtman will soon have legions of adoring fans and I’ve no doubt I’ll look rather silly for writing this review. But I was asked for my opinion and my opinion I present to you. If this record is the only thing that can save me, I’d rather drown.

Reviewed by Martin Drury


The Witness Exchange 07.03.05
www.thewittnessexchange.blogspot.com

 

"The Clock In My Heart" mp3 - found on "Only I Can Save You" on Prix Fixe Records - file under: indietronic, pop - refer to: Dntel, Elvis Costello
I found it rather amusing that reviews of his work also referred to Dntel and Costello as similar artists because there is simply no other way to put it.  I chose this track as the one to highlight because it shows Todds ability to bring together sounds and ideas into one space and to have it all come together without sounding contrived or stale (and this isn't due to the fact that it is well produced).  Imagine the sound of a chrome covered spaghetti western dipped in bleach and you might be close. Or not.  Great lyrics, great hook and just a little bit of necessary grit makes for a damn fine download.


 

Indoor Fireworks 06.13.05
www.indoorfireworks.blogspot.com

 

She Was Mine To Lose
We all get emails from up & coming artists/bands. Some good, some atrocious. I'll spare you the whole rigga-ma-role. What I will not spare you though, is the music of Todd Stadtman. Weaving together key elements of Elvis Costello/XTC/Squeeze/Nick Heyward (Haircut 100) & a healthy dose of California pop, Stadtman's music posesses something that is a rarity in modern pop nowadays: instant accessibility & solid songwriting. Think I'm wrong? I'll prove it to you. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Todd Stadtman: The Clock In My Heart

Todd Stadtman: I Don't Know Why She's Here

If you live in the Bay Area, make sure to catch his next show:
 


 

Mystery and Misery 06.07.05

www.mysteryandmisery.com

 

Todd Stadtman
Can’t get the nerve to stop listening to all of those Lloyd Cole, The The, Elvis Costello, and Edwyn Collins albums? Then you must give Todd Stadtman a try. Todd somehow manages to make some sensible, yet catchy, pop music that seems to be a bit hard to come by these days. You can also hear Todd’s exploits in the band Zikzak. 

 


 

The Big Takeover (Issue #56) 06.05

www.bigtakeover.com

Todd Stadtman  "Only I Can Save You"  (Prix Fixe)
San Francisco-based Stadtman was last heard in the lush pop duo ZIkzak, but here he hooks up with soundtrack artist Dan Wool for this quirky, minimalist electro-pop LP. Stadtman avoids the repetition often associated with programmed electronic music, infusing each light-hearted tune with varied arrangements and sonics.  His warm singing evokes other proficient tunesmiths such as Robyn Hitchcock, Edwyn Collins, and Jazz Butcher's Pat Fish, while on the lyrical side, he's always trying to mend some fractured relationship.  The LP gains strength as it progresses, but there are likable gems strewn throughout, whether the jaunty "The Clock in My Heart", the helium-voiced silliness of "I'm Good", or the breezy, horn-flecked standout "Talking Through My Mouth" (just try to get this one out of your head - it's impossible!)

- Mark Suppanz


 

Left Off the Dial 05.09.05

www.leftoffthedial.com

Todd Stadtman:  “Only I Can Save You”  (Prix Fixe Records)
Todd Stadtman’s Only I Can Save You is almost quirky to a fault.  So sterile and synthetic is it that you would swear Garbage was a live band.  Drum loops, keyboards and all sorts of noises dominate his record.  It’s not the most romantic pop album (it’s too off-beat for that), but something tells me that he thinks it is.  Surely you can hear his talent here, but one can sense a limited audience “getting” it.

Then again, it’s hard not to look past just how disengaging this record is.  Take “String of Pearls” for example, a light techno-inspired song with whispered vocals.  Is it a bad song?  No, it’s well-constructed and not exactly unpleasant, but it had me thinking of R.E.M.’s most experimental album, Up, which had similar-sounding songs that were so much warmer, more inviting, even prettier.  Is it Stadtman’s fault that he doesn’t sound like Michael Stipe or that he can’t paint as good an atmosphere as Peter Buck and Mike Mills?  No, and like I said, he’s talented; and perhaps I’m wrong for thinking he should sound prettier.  Bottom line: he’s “capable,” but imagine all those English synth bands from the 80s singing esoteric pop, minus the hooks.  It’s a bit boring.  Yeah, he’s made some good “art,” but man, sometimes I just want some “Tenderness.

- Gary Knight


Neo-zine 05.01.05
www.neo-zine.com 

Todd Stadtman   “Only I Can Save You”  (Prix Fixe Records )
I don’t know very much about pop music. Mr. Stadtman writes some catchy stuff, with a bit of a futuristic feel. Yea, it’s the beep, bleeps, whirrs, humms, bells and whistles that got me through this CD long enough to discover that I wasn’t as opposed to it as I thought that I might be. Yes, it is quite the bubble-gum flavored saccharine drip full of cheap rhymes and ginger pulling of heartstrings. At least there are some interesting sounds in this  unrelentingly pleasant smile inducer. This is sunny day with no problems music.
 


Is This Music? (Issue #15) 04.05
www.vacant.org.uk/isthismusic/ 

Todd Stadtman - Only I Can Save You (Prix Fixe Records)
Todd Stadtman classes his work  as "futurist bubblegum", but it seems that he may have oversimplified and underestimated himself.  Certainly, Todd takes a unique, electronic slant on the traditional pop song, but his Tom Petty-esque vocals and weaving of different layers of sound make it dangerously listenable.  "Jezebel Jones" is a catchy love song with twangy guitars and lots of electronic distortion, and "Back To Yourself" is also a happy, quirky highlight.  There are darker moments, like "I Am Mr. Green", and also a couple of disappointing tracks - "I'm Good" features squeaky, distorted voices over a farting keyboard which never fails to abrade.  However, with the exception of these less impressive moments, "Only I Can Save You" creeps up on you, and before you know it, you're head-bobbing and toe-tapping with a smile on your face.

- SK


Aquarius Records (Selected New Arrivals) 04/30.05
www.aquariusrecords.org 

Stadtman, Todd  Only I Can Save You  (Prix Fixe)
What's that breezy '80s vibe tickling your ears? Might it be Todd Stadtman's debut album Only I Can Save You? Filled with pretty-pretty pop melodies, Stadtman's suitably sensitive boy vocals and a gauzy blend of acoustic and electronic layers'n'loops, at times it's reminiscent of The Style Council (circa "My Everchanging Moods", check out the second song "Something Less Than Tenderness") and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. Or you might even imagine a lower-fi younger brother of David Sylvian (at least in comparison to Sylvian's most recent Blemish album). The songwriting of his more structured songs is seemingly inspired by the smart popsmith likes of XTC's Andy Partridge and Elvis Costello, while the less song-y ones are more along the lines of Dntel or something from the Morr Music label. A nice and sweet how-do-you-do!
 


Under The Volcano (Issue #84) 03.05
www.underthevolcano.net

Todd Stadtman (Prix Fixe Records...)
This dude reminds me of a more flamboyant Bowie, a more feminine Prince, and everyone of that genre of solo artist amplified by 10.  Don't get me wrong, that's a beautiful thing - there's nothing more sexy than a feminine man.  Todd's songs are fancy and upbeat with lots of triggers and simple beats.  He's the perfect equation of a hit song.  I could see him being as popular as the Postal Service, since he fits pretty well into that genre of Californian bubbly, electronic Post Punk. (CD)

- Cain


Popchild.com 01.26.05
www.popchild.com

Todd Stadtman / Only I Can Save You / Prix Fixe Records / 2005
[Translated by Kristen Pursley.  Click here to read the original Spanish version]
Long ago, there existed a series of poets who sang about life and narrated stories about the journeys they made, their dreams, emotions and some legends.
  In the epoch when music circulated freely from mouth to mouth, from generation to generation, with no incentive but whatever pay some king might offer for their services, in the full flowering of the middle ages, these poets called themselves troubadours.  And today, things haven’t changed much; as Marx said, history is circles that repeat infinitely.  This is no less true in the case of music, and, actually, we can recognize on the internet the way that music circulates freely, (although with those words I could get myself into a controversy) especially in the case of those authors of pop who are independent, because they are musicians, not “stars”, those troubadours who narrate to us their fantastic stories.  Todd Stadtman is one of these.  This American is not the typical musician in search of the perfect song, but more a pop storyteller, one of those who combine the delicacy of pop with the hard edge of punk.

Originally from San Francisco, Todd Stadtman has had a career of almost 5 years, beginning with “See You There” released by the Bitter Records label in the year 2000, until now, with the release of his new album “Only I Can Save You”.  An album composed of 12 cuts in which eclectic sounds are mixed, passing from pop to the hardest rock guitar licks, to return to the calm of the crooner and of the solitary author who searches for his path amid the incomprehension of the world that surrounds him, as many have done before, although each has his own particular vision of this.  Among the themes on this record that stand out, we find “I Am Mr. Green”, which narrates in an amusing manner the development of this character, “Come Undone” or “The Life She Dreams” which touch upon the dreamlike and sentimental.  In an ensemble that unites his particular and low-pitched voice with guitar, keyboards, bass and trumpet, which takes the lead in all the work.  These ingredients also appear in Todd’s parallel project, Zikzak, completed by his friend and comrade David Rubinstein, whose guitar playing gathers special power accompanying the voice of Stadtman.  On “Only I Can Save You”, the accompanist is Dan Wool. 

Maybe Todd won’t save the world in which we live, or save us from its constant dangers, as he proclaims directly in the title of this disc.  But at least we can forget for a moment our little daily worries and listen to what a man neither more or less important (than ourselves) has to say about his dreams, loves and desires.

Like all of us.

- Sandra


Salt Lake City Weekly 01.13.05
www.slweekly.com 

TODD STADTMAN Only I Can Save You *
Hmm … which is worse, being gummed to death by a hippopotamus or listening to this CD from beginning to end? Well, one only takes about five minutes to endure. Despite mad digipack cover design, Todd Stadtman’s whiny, shallow yuppie yearnings backed by bright adult-pop music sounds like it was thrown together by a third-grader for a summer camp project, recorded on a Casio and mixed on a boom box. Pick the hippo. (Prix Fire)

- Rebecca Vernon


 

Smother.net 12.27.04

www.smother.net

 

Todd Stadtman - Only I can save you

EDITOR'S PICK

Todd is one of those guys that you'd expect either at Berklee College of Music or the local insane asylum. He'd certainly fit in either with his eclectic style of indie pop. You can hear the influences swirling about in the vein of They Might Be Giants with a certain appreciable nod in the direction of Elvis Costello and his mainstream approachable pop. Cloaked in the bubblegum wrapper of Stadtman's pop is an unique genius that's as eclectic as Japanese culture where this album no doubt would explode from Tokyo's plushest stereos.

- J-Sin


 

Indieville.com 06.29.03

www.indieville.com

 

Zikzak: Anxotica CDR

If anyone knows about a Denmark pop band called Learning From Las Vegas, then they'll probably be pleased to learn that there's another similar group out there.  With a bit more of a British slant, Zikzak relies on infectious, hooky pop melodies to make its point, and, as is also the case with LFLV, it's done well.  Anxotica is the band's second album, and it doubles as the soundtrack for a film of the same name.

 

Principle songwriter Todd Stadtman has a sheer talent for his craft - "A Popular Girl," for example, takes a simple XTC-like song structure and converts it into an adorable pop tune that basks in melody as well as originality.  "Memory Fails Me," meanwhile, is a more bittersweet tune - nice but falling a bit too close to lame soft rock territory.  Throughout the rest of the album, the listener is taken through a slick, laidback melody adventure, but sometimes the softness of the music can become a bit too "lite" for some tastes.  Like why would you have I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! when you can have the real thing with no calories gained?

 

But these are minor complaints, and ones that will hopefully be cleared up for the next release.  And after all, you have to give Zikzak credit for trying to inject a bit of edge into things with a mildly rocking tune like "The Town Is Closed."  In the future, however, the band may want to focus a bit more on the rock style.  But still, Anxotica is perfect for pop fans.

 

81%

 

Matt Shimmer

 


 

Left Off the Dial 06.02.03

www.leftoffthedial.com

 

Zikzak: Anxotica [Mighty Jack]

What ingredients go into a good pop record?  Catchy melodies juxtaposed with lyrics open to casual interpretation is what I generally refer to as popular music, but only after listening to Anxotica by the San Francisco band Zikzak did I see a need to question the necessary parts of a pop recording.  To Zikzak's credit, this is because every song on Anxotica begins with a very catchy melody, and I can think of a lot of artists that could benefit from some of the instrumental song-crafting skills that Zikzak's Todd Stadtman displays on this album.  However, the confusion comes in with Stadtman's lyrics.

 

Certainly, comparisons to Elvis Costello are justified - both artists use exquisitely crafted musical backdrops to showcase their melodic and clear vocals, but after listening to Zikzak I can't help feel as though the content of the lyrics is holding back some of the beauty in the music.  It's hard to fault Zikzak for using the common subject matters of love and relationships, but the in the end, songs like "A Popular Girl" and "She'll Pull Me Through" seem like incomplete portraits of characters and places that the artist is obviously more familiar with than the listener.  Songs like "Expert" and "Slow Fade" fare much better, because in those, the lyrics don't contrast as much with the musical moods evoked by the songs.  The potential of the rocking track "Should I Tell Her You've Gone" is a bit dampered by the verse melodies, but then the chorus kicks in with an intriguing sound that I would have never expected to come from the same song.

 

Some of Anxotica is uneasy listening, because it is hard to connect with the singer's state of mind, but the album keeps surprising with positive twists in the musical arrangements and occasional verses or choruses that are right on target for a solid pop record.  Zikzak is a curious sort of band, and in my opinion, they'd be dangerously good if Stadtman finds some lyrics that connect a bit better with his average listener. 

-Danny Rowe
6/2/03

 


 

All Music Guide

www.allmusic.com

 

Zikzak: See You There

***

On See You There, Zikzak offers its unique style of pop songs. Todd Stadtman is the undeniable vocal leader of the group, leading on vocals on all but one song. David Rubinstein is the instrumental leader, performing all of the guitar and keyboard work. The duo's graceful and classically structured songs might be what Frank Sinatra might have sounded like if he had come of age in the 1990s. The piano and Stadtman's vocals on "Halfway Down" are prime examples of the group's artistry and seamless execution of the songs. As the disc continues, Stadtman's voice becomes even more impressive, composed, and emotional, in the vein of Morrissey. Rubinstein checks in on vocals on "You Choose," singing in his own raw and emotional voice. Stadtman takes back the vocal reins on "Everybody Look Into the Sun," a song of varying tempos. The music becomes more frantic as the disc nears an end, on the mesmerizing "You Say That Love Is Everything," which leads to the serene ballad "My Brilliant Angel"." Stadtman and Rubinstein take out all of their musical ammunition on "Everything There Is to Have," a perfect album closer. See You There was recorded at Grubby Studios in North Carolina, as well as Tsh Studios in Los Angeles. Bitter Records released the album in 1999. — Stephen Cramer

 

 


 

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review · 06.15.01

www.triblive.com

ZIKZAK ZIGZAGS ACROSS TOWN

Zikzak is a band in the same sense as Beck or P.J. Harvey, which is to say that they’re really not. While the Los Angeles-based collective uses guitarists and keyboard players to buff their tunes to a high-pop gloss, Zikzak essentially is a vehicle for the voice and songs of bassist Todd Stadtman. That makes it a simple matter for Stadtman to put his songs across in venues that wouldn’t normally accommodate a full mikes-and-monitors unit.

He’ll do just that at 6 p.m. Saturday, with and acoustic in-store performance at Paul’s Compact Discs, 4526 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. The mini-tour concludes Monday with another acoustic set at Café Au Lait, 1224 E. Carson St., South Side.

Stadtman croons post-modern, Prada-issue pop songs in a voice that recalls a young Bryan Ferry. He’ll be premiering songs from Zikzak’s upcoming release, "Anxotica”, as well as their debut CD, “See You There.”

- William Loeffler


 

Speck Magazine, Issue 7

speckfanzine.0catch.com

ZIKZAK "See You There" (Bitter )

I can't understand Zikzak's stated list of influences. Elvis Costello, Sex Pistols and Frank Sinatra? Whatever they call it it's pure intellectual pop for the bookish crowd. Backpackers take notice. Fine and dandy set of tunes here, if only it stood out and broke ground, they could shine past the competition.

 

 


 

 

aB Magazine · May 2001

www.abmagazine.com

 

ZIKZAK - "I Lose The Tiny Man b/w Anna Li" Bitter

[Translated from the original Spanish]

In San Francisco there lives, hidden from the high lights, a genius of timeless pop who deserves much more praise than he has received.  His name is Todd Stadtman.  He recorded his debut album with Alex Cox's regular composers (a fact that doesn't exactly help one to register in the so-called real world) and he lives in other times; let's  say he makes 80s British pop (The Smiths, They Might Be Giants, The Wedding Present) as if it had just been invented.  And let's say that, despite his anonymity, he sings as passionately as Shane McGowan.  Let's say that he writes his lyrics under the influence... of Elvis Costello.
Let's listen.

Juan Manuel Freire

 


 

Otoño  Cheyenne - Issue #4, Summer 2001

 

ZIKZAK "See You There" (Bitter Records, CD, 1999)

[Translated from the original Spanish by Kristen Pursley]

Personal and self-sufficient group formed by David Rubinstein and Todd Stadtman, who take on, in addition to composition, the arrangements and production, Zikzak presents us with a solid conjunction of themes, full of changes of mood and rhythm, with an instrumentation at times basic and other times delicate and complex (with ample use of keyboards...) and some moving and melodramatic vocals.  And above all some well-rounded  songs.  In effect we find ourselves before a highly eclectic music, with some almost-dissonant, disconcerting, and minimal songs ("Because" or "My Brilliant Angel"), and others with a strong pop content, rhythmic, with careful arrangements and choruses ("You Choose" or "Everything There Is To Have").  The music is at some times grand ("Halfway Down"),  at others energetic ( as in the fantastic and spirited "Anna Li"), and  at others intimate and introspective, as are, by and large, the lyrics.  The arrangements and vocals are imaginative, at times even "experimental" ("Shatterproof").  This is definitely a great pop group, well-developed and unique, which allows us throughout the length of the CD to enjoy well-constructed melodies and harmonies, like a bitter perfume.

 

 


Bliss Aquamarine 05.24.05

www.blissaquamarine.net

ZIKZAK Anna Li 7" (Bitter)
Quite old now, but hopefully still available. Having a much fuller sound than may be expected of a two-piece band, Zikzak play great pop music.
Anna Li is strong powerpop; I Lose The Tiny Man is an effective mix of the more sophisticated side of 80s indiepop and something rather more odd and quirky. There are also two albums available; stay tuned for more on Zikzak later this issue. More info from bitter@zikzak.org
 


 

Splendid E-zine 2.26.01 

www.splendidezine.com

Zikzak / S/T / Bitter (7") 

Zikzak's latest 7" is kind of like a mini-sampler. You'll find that "I Lose the Tiny Man" is a bizarre concoction of the vocal and lyrical eccentricities of They Might Be Giants and the off-kilter musical melodies of The Pogues in their heyday. The duo offers a nod to the pop genius of Elvis Costello on "Anna Li" as the tune develops mature lyrics and enticing guitar lines, growing into a happy, Morrissey-flavored track. This handful of influences gets caught up in a turbulent Brit-Pop whirlwind that lands somewhere in between quirky '80s guitar melodies and boisterous, contemporary-sounding harmonies. The first tune hints at what's to come on the band's upcoming CD, so stay tuned for details.

am 


 

Realmusic - 1.01

www.realmusic.de

 

ZIKZAK - See You There Cd (Bitter) 

Der US-amerikanische Schmachtsänger Todd Stadtman vergleicht sich mit COSTELLO oder gar SINATRA. Ha! So weit kommt's noch! Die langsamen Tracks lassen schnell den Unterschied zwischen Legenden und Epigone erkennen, die schnelleren, rockigeren Tracks überzeugen da eher. Insgesamt aber nicht unbedingt ein Riesen-Popalbum. 

Copyright by KOMM KÜSSEN und Gian-Philip


 

The Big Take-Over - Fall 2000

www.bigtakeover.com

zikzak: see you there (BITTER) 

Zikzak is a San Francisco-based duo that looks (and dresses) more like a pair of Wall Street accountants than rock musicians. DAVID RUBINSTEIN and TODD STADTMAN create lush, full-bodied guitar-pop reminiscent of all those early-80s new romantic groups, enhanced with the crisp, clear production technology of today. (Stadtman) croons in a sometimes overly dramatic warble that alternately resembles that of Edwyn Collins, Gene's Martin Rossiter, and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker. Like many studio bands with no drummer, Zikzak has a tendency to repeat itself, falling into the trap of having too many similar-sounding songs and arrangements. But the flipside is that if you like the first song, you will likely enjoy the entire album, as the music is consistent throughout. If you are a fan of such artists as Aztec Camera, Nick Heyward, or synth/pop bands such as Figures On A Beach, this CD might be right up your alley. 
- Mark Suppanz 

 

 


 

The Power of Pop 9.20.00 

www.powerofpop.com

Zikzak - See You There

Zikzak ­ duo Todd Stadtman (vocals) and David Rubinstein (instrumentation) ­ certainly copped their template from the early 80s Brit-pop bands like Soft Cell, Blancmange, Yazoo et al. A kinder and gentler time perhaps for a new pop frontier. Not that Zikzak play electro-pop, merely substitute Rubinsteinís sterling guitar work for dated synthesizers. Musically, the references point to British singer-songwriters like Elvis Costello, Lloyd Cole and Nick Heyward.

 

Oddly enough one of most arresting moments of See You There comes with the Rubinstein-sung You Choose, a breathtakingly breezy number that suggests Andy (XTC) Partridge or Arthur (Love) Lee on an apprehensive day. 

 

Whilst Stadtmanís mannered croon sounds detached at times, especially on the uptempo songs, it does create an appropriate mood for the delicate ballads like Halfway Down, My Brilliant Angel and Because. 

 

Fans of that new wave sound will find Zikzak a perfect re-creation of that bygone era. (7)

 

 


 

Jockrock 9.01.00 

www.vacant.org.uk/jockrock

Zikzak - See You There (Bitter)

Sometimes it's best to get the cd straight onto the player without looking at the sleeve. Nothing wrong with the cover - an odd photo of a ceramic cat - but on opening the box, you're met with pictures of an accountant and a geography teacher clearly in the studio on their day off. Now, some of my best friends are accountants, but I wouldn't encourage them to make an album. So, the cd's on, and hey, they're actually pretty good! It IS just 2 guys, doing everything themselves including 'programming' i.e. no drummer, but they do a very convincing impression of a promising UK band. 'You Strike Me Down' starts 'See You There' off and it's pure pop, somewhere between the Beatles and Elvis Costello. In fact, many of the tracks here remind the listener of Elvis Costello, though they're unnervingly sung by Edwyn Collins. 'Shatterproof' is a case in point - it's just some bloke singing over a strummy guitar - but somehow, in all the apparent ordinariness, something special emerges.

 

 


 

Ettnollett  - July 2000 

www.dgr.se/

ZIKZAK: See You There (Bitter/import, BR 345-2) 

Orange Juice, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, Elvis Costello, Pale Fountains och Felt är namn som fastnar I min för stunden överbelastade hjärna på amerikanska Zikzak. 

 

Det är solsken ute, träden vajar kala utan löv på sina spöklika armar och Todd Stadtmans Sångstämma ger mig ett par kickar av nostalgi i 80-tal beblandat med vitt vin och svart kavaj. 

 

See You There är en sån där cd-skiva som hittat till ettnollett på ett förunderligt sätt. Jag Blir förvånad varje gång små guldkorn dimper ner i brevinkastet . Jag får en tiltalande och lått pirrande känsla av att det är goda och välmenande popmissionärer där ute i vida världen Som insett att det finns annat "utanför sitt hem". 

Duon Zikzak, med Todd Stadtman och David Rubinstein är veteraner i San Fransiscos alternative musikscen; lätt tunnhåriga gentlemän med vit skjorta, svart slips och en fallenhet För att göra popmelodier som kladdar sig fast. Det ringer en klockaÖ Pet Shop Boys utan syntar, stylister, discotrams och ett scenspel som får Lido i Paris att blekna. 

 

Zikzak är objekt för intervju i nästa nummer av ettnollett. Basta! 


- Nicke Boström 

 

 


 

Splendid 5.18.00

www.splendidezine.com

 

Zikzak 
by Irving

Clever, melodramatic lyrics. Sing-along choruses. Bouncy beats. Smooth vocals. Who could ask for anything more? San Francisco duo Zikzak has crafted a pretty great pop album, along the lines of a more upbeat Elvis Costello or a less electronic Erasure. Well, that might be stretching it, but you get the idea. Go ahead and listen to "You Strike Me Down" and see if you can go more than a minute before you start dancing around in your socks, pretending you're Molly Ringwald. I dare you. "Shatterproof" comes darn close to setting up Zikzak for the "American Morrissey" title. "Everybody Look into the Sun" is a wonderful weird mix of dark, inspirational, beatles-lounge-pop. In addition to a fine chorus, "Anna Li" has some of the best lyrics on the CD. A couple of samples: 

 

She can be a toothless hag or murderess
Cos my heart is as spacious/As hers is glacial 

 

Ha! Good stuff. Not every tune on See You There is totally successful -- "You Choose" suffers a bit from David Rubinstein's peculiar vocal style (Todd Stadtman sings on all other tracks), and "You Say That Love Is Everything" strays dangerously close to the wrong side of the Queen equation. But these are mere quibbles (and besides, the strangeness of Rubinstein's voice has grown on me. Queen hasn't). This is great pop music: lush, weird, pretty and sad. Check it out.

 

 


 

Jetbunny 5.12.00

www.brcentral.com/jetbunny/

 

Zikzak

If Madison Avenue had a research team that went out to document eighties Britpop, I wouldnít be surprised to find that it was Stadtman and Rubinstein. At this point no one remembers Lloyd Cole anymore. Hell, he was one of my favorites and I barely remember him. Apparently these guys do. Some will say that Stadtman sounds like Morrissey. Fuck them. He sounds like Lloyd Cole. Anyway, apart from the crooning style, Zikzak did a even more homework to affect their songwriting style. Stadtman writes songs like some odd hybrid of Martin Gore and Elvis Costello. So, yes, the subject matter his happily depressing. Add to that the fact that Rubinsteinís piano chops sound like Steve Nieveís. One of the most important things theyíve gleaned from yesterday, something that everyone seems to have missed: hooks in the melody, instead of a guitar riff, bass pull-off, or even worse, a three chord anthem, can be very effective in making you remember a song and still LIKE it. 

 

 


 

Altarnative 5.15.00

www.altarnative.com

Zikzak-See you There (Bitter) 
Pop nowadays seems to be a dying breed. But bands like Zikzak (David Rubinstein and Todd Stadtman) are upcoming prospects that may help keep it afloat. See you There is their debut ticket: a melodramatic collection of pop songs that run the gamut 80s Brit pop and 90s-flavored college radio stylings. "Purgatory in Motion" and "Because" are some of the more notable cuts. Worth a listen. - Omar Perez


 

181.4 Degrees from the Norm!  4.12.00

www.181-4.com/

 

Zikzak
See you there
Bitter Records

These days, it seems like "pop music" has become a bad word to anyone but the under-14 set. With all the Backstreets and the Britneys out there it's hard to find a good, mature pop album, but I know I've found one: Zikzak's "See you there".

 

Zikzak shows a delightful range of talent, from hook-laden hits like the slowly-building "Everybody Look into the Sun" and the sardonic, tongue-in-cheek "Anna Li" to the heartfelt, earnest pleading of "You say that Love is Everything". Even more impressive is the fact that Zikzak is a duo: Todd Stadtman sings lead and plays the bass, and David Rubenstein joins him with the guitars, programming and keyboards. Despite this minimal personnel, Zikzak's sound is rich and full. And the songwriting (primarily done by Stadtman) shows intelligence and experience much deeper than that of pop songs we're used to hearing on the radio. The pair list such influences as Elvis Costello (obviously) and the Sex Pistols, but nevertheless have their own unique sound. And they've produced one of the best pure-pop albums I've heard in a long time.

 

My only complaint would be the lack of sufficient liner notes. With music like this it's nice to be able to flip to a song's lyrics, and unfortunately Zikzak provides none in the CD case. However, all of the song lyrics (and some additional information) is provided on the band's website, so all is not lost. This album definitely deserves and rewards extra listening. Little touches like the calliope ending to "You say Love is Everything" to the entire French version of "Everybody Look into the Sun" after the end of "Everything there is to have" make this a great disc to listen to and enjoy over and over again. Few pop albums out now can make that boast, and "See you there" has left them all far behind.

 

181.4 Degrees from the Norm! the Net's freshest music magazine....

 

© Copyright 1999 181.4 DftN! 

 

 


 

Tidal Wave Magazine 4.9.00

 

Zikzak - See You There, (Bitter Records) 

Comprised of David Rubinstein (guitars, keyboards) and Todd Stadtman (vocals, bass guitar) - both veterans of the San Francisco scene - Zikzak is into anthemic, high drama pop. And when they feel like it, they can really lay down some infectious tunes. "You Strike Me Down", the opener on their debut See You There, is a case in point. Stadtman starts the song with a soft croon, slowly working his way into the jangle and burst corners of this should-be hit. Whatís more, this number, like others on the CD, channels some very interesting pop spirits. One canít help but think theyíre hearing a re-working of Men at Work. Occasionally Gene peeks through, adding an over-the-top element. At other times Stadtmanís voice so evokes David Gedgeís that youíd swear they were jonzin for a Wedding Present fix. Their self-avowed heroes include an incongruous lot: Frank Sinatra, The Sex Pistols, and Elvis Costello. However, Zikzak has a pretty consistent sound. Perhaps the only thing they hold in common with the aforementioned is their love of drama-driven tunes with sharp narratives. Zikzak has obviously been at this long enough to gauge how to write consistent songs even while drawing from dissimilar sources. 

 

Bitter-sweet lyrics, brief songs, and verse-chorus-verse are their staples. It works really well, but it would be nice to see them push the envelope a little more. And while there are some fantastic numbers on See You There (along with the intro, those that come to mind are "Halfway Down," "Anna Li", and "Everything there is to have") the guitar, drums, bass driven standard leaves something to be desired. (Wish their quiet piano would come to the fore.) Thereís nothing wrong with this kind of ensemble, but Zikzak have so much song writing potential that they should take it to another level by brining in some more challenging instrumentation. The long-forgotten Judy Bats were as well adept at song-smithing, but their inability to mix it up and break new ground left them wading in through the obscure backwaters of southern college alt-pop. Oh, that Zikzak doesnít suffer a similar fate. 

 

This aside, Zikzakís freshman effort is very encouraging. And itís an infrequent joy to find a band of this stature lurking on the edges of obscurity. Hopefully weíll be seeing more of them in the future. 


- Randall Stephens 

 

 


 

QRD  4.1.00 

 

Zikzak - See You There 1999 Bitter 11 tracks 45 min.

Half moody pop & half modern indie rock (the kind with piano).  I don't really dig the singer's voice, there's a song called 'because' that's pretty good

 

 


 

Shake It Up  3.15.00

www.powerpop.org/shakeitup/

 

Zikzak - See You There

The cool crooning sounds of Zikzak are on full display on the full-length See You There CD. A duo comprised of David Rubinstein and Todd Stadtman, melodic rock is the order here and there are a few notable tracks here. The opening You Strike Me Down is strong as is the acoustic You Choose with its ethereal arrangement. More info can be had at www.zikzag.org .

 

 


 

TAMPA WEEKLY PLANET/JAM - 02.10.00 - 02.23.00

www.weeklyplanet.com

 

Zikzak: See You There (Bitter)
What do Joe Jackson and today's rock radio have in common? The propensity to lay it on thick, that's what I say. But fret not, Mr. Jackson's not heading into the studio with Brendan O'brien anytime soon - thanks to the L.A. duo Zikzak, he doesn't have to. This debut album is dripping with melodrama and hooks, loud-soft-loud dynamic and smokin' guitar, with the occasional trip-hop beat spotlighting Todd Stadtman's and David Rubinstein's love for the Jackson-and-Costello axis of clever pop, and the Bush and Matchbox 20 hybrids, as well. The lyrics fall somewhere in the middle, with clever turns of phrases giving way to alt-rawk vagueness ("It sounded like a fairy tale/ And lived out like a textbook/ With strict elves and tough-love angels/ You better keep the pace abrupt, or/ You might lose me to/ The one about the train conductor"). The vagueness might help the band in their quest for pop domination, though, as repeated listens to the record still don't reveal whether the opener is a paean to Christ or to the narrator's ego. The best moment is the punchy "Everybody Look Into the Sun", on which Stadtman's impassioned delivery swoops over simple acoustics before launching into an anthemic, big-rock chorus. The consistent, ironic battle between pop histrionics and postmodern bitterness can get a bit tedious, though - but not if you like pop radio, I suppose.
- Stefanie Kalem