Mark Cote's 'Fun House of Your Mind'One of the common criticisms of digital music is that it lacks the artwork and, of course, tangibility found on cassettes, vinyl records and CDs, among other forms of music distribution.  It’s a treat, then, when an artist takes the time to craft a visually appealing album.

That’s exactly what singer/songwriter Mark Cote has done with his new album, entitled Funhouse Of Your Mind.  The disc comes enclosed in a visually appealing case, featuring a design style similar to that found on the artist’s website.  The intriguing design adds to Cote’s concept behind the album, which deals with the various emotions contained within the complex “funhouse” of the mind.

Cote’s concept is introduced in the opening track, “Fun House,” which begins with circus-like horns and continues with a jazzy feel throughout the rest of the song.  Cote takes on the persona of ringmaster of the imaginative “Funhouse of Your Mind,” singing lines like “Come lose yourself inside the maze of mirrors / Guaranteed to keep you guessing every time / The question of which one is you / Depends on your point of view.”  Lines like these, coupled with the carnivalesque music, evoke vivid images of an actual fun house.  But they also suggest a deeper meaning, in this case one about a “crisis of identity,” which Cote sings later in the song.  That manipulation of words and imagery, sung in Cote’s melodic voice, is one of the artist’s strongest qualities.

** LISTEN to “Fun House of Your Mind” by Mark Cote on Earbits Radio! **

While “Fun House” is an introductory song that lays the groundwork for the emotional journey to be explored throughout the rest of the album, its musical style is somewhat misleading.  “Fun House” is horn-based and jazzy, but the rest of the album is more akin to The Beatles during their Sgt. Pepper days— upbeat, poppy, whimsical and entirely catchy.  Second track “Gone Gone Gone” is perhaps the best example of that style, as it features bouncing piano lines and soaring, dreamlike vocals.  Many of the other songs on the album follow that pattern.

Cote’s artwork is featured not only on the album’s case and physical CD, but within the enclosed lyric booklet.  The fact that the booklet includes lyrics is a much-appreciated addition, as many bands have been phasing out that formerly common feature with their albums.  Also, with Cote, understanding the lyrics is an essential part of the listening experience.

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Within Cote’s lyric booklet are drawings by the artist himself, consisting of page-size bright cartoons.  The first one, for instance, features a snowman equipped with an umbrella, melting and crying as the sun smiles at him from above.  Beneath the picture is a quote saying “What is life but one long goodbye?”  The picture would be a thought-provoking cartoon on its own, but it’s included in the booklet as an accompanying visual for fourth track “Snowman In July,” one of the album’s best tracks.  It’s dedicated, meticulous extra steps like that that make Cote such an appealing artist.  He cares about his listeners and takes the time to make his work intriguing on multiple levels.  With Funhouse Of Your Mind, Cote’s work has paid off.

** HEAR an exclusive interview with Mark Cote on Earbits! **

The album was recorded, mixed, and produced by acclaimed producer Michael Frondelli, who managed to successfully capture Cote’s impressive piano skills and vocal ability.  If you have to leave the comfort of your computer screen to purchase one tangible album this year, consider picking up Funhouse Of Your Mind.


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