The Village Voice
December 28, 1999
JEW TO THE WORLD! at The Knitting Factory.
Power-pop mensh Sean Altman gives Jews a chance to do something on Christmas Eve
besides go out for Chinese food, hosting an entire minion of Hebraic Downtown
characters. Sure, tough folk-rocker Patti Rothberg is the big name. But I bet
the comic highlight will come when Sean Altman and Voice critic Rob
Tannenbaum reprise their '98 hit single "Hanukah With
Monica" ("a satirical must-hear holiday carol," raves The Jewish
Forward), and the B-side, "(It's Good To Be) A Jew at Christmas."
The New York Times
December 24, 1999
JEW TO THE WORLD! Knitting Factory.
Jewsapalooza, the jovial Semitic alternative to Christmas week, continues with
this night of singer-songwriters kvetching and celebrating. It's organized by
Sean Altman, the wacky former Rockapella main man, so expect lots of clever
jokes along with the post-Hanukah cheer.
Goyim, remember, there's time to stop by before midnight Mass.
The New York Times
June 19, 1999
Your Assignment: Fix New York's Schools
Rudy Crew, the Chancellor of New York City's public schools, occupies one of
the hottest seats there is. Parents, teachers, the Mayor and many others have
had criticisms of the schools, and suggestions of all sorts have been offered --
vouchers, tougher standards, year-round classes, bigger budgets. Here, an
assortment of responses to the question, "What would you do to improve city
schools if you were Rudy Crew?"
SEAN ALTMAN is a Manhattan singer-songwriter and the composer of the
theme song for the PBS
program "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?"
My music schooling at Bronx P.S. 24 appeared serviceable at the time. In
retrospect, though, it seems tragic that I didn't attend my first live concert
(Art Garfunkel at Carnegie Hall) until I was 17. What's music education without
exposure to real musicians? Any overheard schoolyard conversation is evidence
that nothing excites kids more than music. Musicians, even more than athletes,
are the heroes of youth.
Happily, the feeling is mutual; a performer feels no greater joy than when a
youngster smiles, as I know from my experience with Rockapella. I thus propose
"Musicians Back to School," an ongoing series of unpaid school performances by
the huge crop of willing local talent. While admirable piecemeal efforts have
been made in the past, it's time for an all-out music awareness juggernaut.
This is the most eclectic music city in the world; our kids should be the
nation's most well-versed. No student should be able to graduate without having
experienced live, in-school renditions of the 11 Indispensable Post-Renaissance
Compositions: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, "Ode to Joy," "Waltz of the Flowers,"
"Begin the Beguine," "Unforgettable," "Hound Dog," "Crazy," "Respect,"
"Yesterday," "Rapper's Delight" and, emphatically, "Free Bird."
The World's Magazine
March 3-10, 1999
NEW YORK CITY - This past Saturday night, while standing in the gaggle of people
near the stage at Arlene Grocery, I felt great just bopping and listening to
Sean Altman & his Muscular Band. Then I did what I always do when considering
whether or not to learn more about or follow a group of musicians: I scanned the
Whenever you go out to hear live music, especially in Hipper-than-Thou cities
like New York, San Francisco, or London, you expect to find an attentive if
sullen near- motionless crowd. Or you find a sullen, near-motionless band. Or
But everywhere I looked in this crowd I saw people SMILING! I saw people
smiling, swaying, or just bouncing in place --- wishing Arlene Grocery had a
dance floor. THESE PEOPLE FELT GOOD! Because of the music Sean Altman's band
plays, and how well they play it, you can't help but feel good listening to
When I first thought about writing this review, I harkened back to the good
times you're likely to remember when you think about seeing bands like the
Beatles, the Beachboys, Stevie Wonder. Sean Altman's music reminded me of these
groups because of three things:
- A focus on sing-a-long if you like, clear lyricism.
- Excellent vocals --- in fact, this band does lots of sterling a cappella
- Music that's fun, makes you smile, want to clap your hands and shake
Since the band has a mailing list, and the band's latest release, seanDEMOnium was on sale at the show, I decided
to get a copy. That's when I discovered the existence of The Seanosphere, Sean
Altman's Web site. This is the place
to go not only buy Sean Altman's music, but to learn about All Things Sean ---
including up-coming club dates, what other press has had to say about the music,
In fact, this is where I found out more about the second CD I was given, "Hannukah with Monica." Some of you may already have
read about this phenomenon in Rolling Stone, the New York Daily News, or other
national publications. You see "Hannukah with Monica" was produced by a
collaboration been Sean and Details writer Rob Tannebaum. It got air-play
on the Don Imus radio show here in New York, and other national radio programs
in Los Angeles and across the nation. It's a cute little ditty on That Scandal
done in a barber-shop quartet sort of style.
seanDEMOnium, on the other hand is much more
representative of Sean's band. And it's such a deal! How often do you shell out
your hard-earned simeleons for a CD that includes thirty --- that's right ---
thirty solid songs? seanDEMOnium does. I
have eclectic tastes, so my faves on this CD cover a wide range of styles. I
love "Miserable Destiny," a great
rap-influenced tune (quoted on the G21 cover this week.) But this isn't gangsta
rap, its more rap a la Blondie's great "Rapture."
The a cappella work on this album is primo! There are tunes that are clearly do-
wop inspired throughout. But whether a cappella or with instruments, the band's
vocal work stands out. Listening to
seanDEMOnium you can clearly hear the
influences of bands like Manhattan Transfer, Wham, and the effects of living in
a cultural smorgasbord like New York City. The Latin beats are there, as well as
the influence of reggae. But no matter what influence and styles are prevalent
as you bop your way through this catalogue of sounds, it's all a distinct
Readers in the New York area will definitely want to check these performers out.
They will be playing regularly at Arlene Grocery during the next few months, so
drop down and check them out. You can find a full listing of Sean's appearances
(he also plays in an acoustic duo) by following the link to his Web site in this
Now here's the kicker: do not pop this CD out of your player after
the end of the 30th song. Leave it spinning. After about a minute you'll find
Sean's "Easter Egg."
Sean Altman is not just a fun guy, he's also a funny guy. At the end of this CD
is a "conversation" between Sean and the receptionist at a major record label
which is a crack-up! As another listener comments, "That routine alone is worth
the price of the album!" I think you'll agree.
G21 Staff Writer
seanDEMOnium (Big Sean
After eleven years with Rockapella, Sean
Alman broke out of
Carmen Sandiego's world and into the Seanosphere, a place where a cappella is
grand but guitars are
allowed and pop rules.
Actually, Rockapella became one of the most respected acts in the specialized
field of a cappella,
gaining notable awards and an international audience,
but their presence in the states was in too many ways confined by their status
as the house band on
the PBS kids' show, Where In The World Is Carmen
All the while, Altman was looking for an outlet for his original songs and his
which he had been honing since his days with the
seminal new wave outfit, Blind Dates. He found that outlet on his 8-track Tascam
and cranked out
seanDEMOnium, his first solo album, dropping
his association with
Rockapella to pursue his solo ambitions.
The ambition is high, but the talent behind it is impressive, and
seanDEMOnium looks like the start of
something very good and
potentially very big. Mixing one man a cappella mixes that draw inevitable
comparisons to Bobby
McFerrin with guitar driven pop-rock tunes and a variety of clips and vignettes
from day to day life
in the Seanosphere, he offers up an intriguing and entertaining self-portrait.
It may be easier to find this one at www.bigsean.com than anywhere else, and the
site's worth a look
anyway. Wherever you find it, it's *what* you'll
find on seanDEMOnium that counts, and you
can count on some great
pop and a good time.
Seandemonium-bop * Person * Baby Go Bye Bye * Big Sean Music NY * Pretty Baby *
I Quit * Falling Over
You * Marry Me * Married Men * Day's
Early Moan * I Won't Mind * The Pink Pig * Be My Friend * Rebecca * oooh-Angst *
Julie Gone * Perky
Interlude * Hazel Eyes * Sullen Malaise *
Miserable Destiny * My Parent's Son * Electra * Polly Gets * You're Mine * Max &
Sam's Phresh Jew
Thang * Fan * Presto Change-o * I'm Waiting *
Male Pattern Baldness * Are You A Man?
Last updated: December 29, 1999
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