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The Moon is Green
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sold out

A Tomato a Day - The Moon is Green
CD (Omaha, NE)



-moonshine
-silver fox
-winter wind
-halo
-the highest kite
-in a book
-build a town




A Tomato a Day is Brian Poloncic w/
David Downing - Cello
Allen Hug - Synthesizer
Dave Nordin - Bass Guitar

Recorded and Mixed by Alex McManus 11/06
Artwork by Brian Poloncic
Photo by Tony Bonacci
Design by Bryan Day

Reviews:
Back in the early 90's, artist savant Brian Poloncic left all his other bands and started self-releasing cassettes of folk-damaged, noise pop hybrids under the name A Tomato A Day (helps keep the tornado away). New paint, new song constructions with sounds which neither embraced nor recoiled from indie rock and the lo-fi confessional folk sputterings of the day. His music was inside all that but outside it too, junkyard songs put together from spare parts. Songs that said rock and roll and relax. Songs without an audience, songs spilling from the head of an artist chasing his own muse for his own amusement. The music was everywhere, the lyrics were too. This music had plenty of Elvis lust and Dylan absurdity, a troubadour spirit with a punk rock genealogy. I don't know what the band name means but I have a theory the Tomato is a giant red pill somebody has to take every day just to keep the tornado in his head at bay. Drugs to keep you on the ground. The music of Tomato A Day has always inspired me, has always reminded me that it's more important to crash than it is to coast. Thankfully, there's been a new release every year or so to keep me grounded, keep me focused. So, here then is the latest in a long line of under-the-radar songs from an obscure hero of the form. The Moon is Green takes the man and the band in yet another direction. Nothing I say here can explain the journey and you can't possibly know A Tomato A Day by listening to any one tape or cd or record, it's an artistic career that most of us can only dream about. I encourage everyone to find and listen to everything you can get your hands on. Uncompromising, constantly evolving music released to anyone or no one, without echo or acclaim, that's A Tomato A Day. You'll get your basement songs, your bottom of the heart songs, your broken and healed songs, and all better than a dog or car. If you want music that keeps the tornado away but never denies the existence of the tornado, open your mouth and say "ahhh." - Simon Joyner

(Music Emissions) Brian Poloncic, the man behind A Tomato A Day (and one of the founders of the Omaha bands Pickwick and Naturaliste) is a haunted and haunting figure. "The Moon is Green" is a seven song EP that makes you worry about and wonder at its creator. Disjointed and lo-fi, Poloncic's droning, oddly whimsical voice, backed by guitar, devastating cello and understated keys, is the central instrument, giving a confessional, naked feel to the somewhat abstract lyrics. Of the seven songs, "Winter Wind" and "The Highest Kite" stand out as the most poignant and strange. "Halo" and "In A Book" are not far behind. David Downing's cello work is almost as huge a psychic presence as Poloncic himself, a counterpoint that deepens the sense of melancholy dread of the tunes. Yet the tunes are also childlike, in a hermetic, hopeful way. As with those to whom he is often compared, Poloncic has had his struggles with mental illness. Like Daniel Johnston, Skip Spence and Syd Barrett, he has turned that nightmarish battle with uncertain reality into raw, honest, slightly askew melodies and distracted but moving tunes. A Tomato A Day may be an apt monicker for the man. Like the adage, he seems deliberate, present, and hoping each careful move will keep the demons at bay. 4.5/5 - Mike Wood

(Babysue) Comparisons to Daniel Johnston are inevitable here. A Tomato A Day is the recording project created by Brian Poloncic who has been in and out of mental hospitals over the years coping with his schizophrenia. But, strangely enough, Poloncic's music seems to have more in common with the songs of Syd Barrett than Johnston. The songs on The Moon Is Green are appropriately strange and blurry and they come across like odd stream-of-consciousness ramblings. Before writing this review we listened to this disc a half dozen times or more...and we're still somewhat puzzled. This odd little EP features seven tracks including "Moonshine," "Halo," and "Build a Town." Interesting. (Rating: 4+++) - LMNOP

(Ampersand Etectera) Fresh from Public Eyesore comes Brian Poloncic recording as A Tomato A Day (helps keeps the tornado away) with The moon is green (PE106). Poloncic is an Omaha musician who falls into the outsider artist/musician category (Daniel Johnson is a close parallel) - as defined in Wikipedia it is 'music performed either by social outsiders, who have no or few associates in the mainstream music business, or by musicians who choose to live and work in seclusion, often due to compromising behavioral or psychological conditions'. Outsiders are not always outside - Syd Barrett is also cited - and their art (often visual) can be highly sought and collected. Poloncic has been in and out of hospitalis, diagnosed with schizophrenia, andwrote lo-fi music distributed by cassette in the 90s. He moved into more experimental music but has recently moved back to song writing, and this short album (possibly originally intended to be 10" vinyl based on some comments on the web) has emerged. But the music should not be sought because of its source but should stand on its own as music. And here Tomato succeed admirably as it is a gentle, lo-fi, folkish gem. Poloncic plays guitar and percussion, in addition to singing; and is joined by David Downing on cello, Allen Hug synth and Dave Norodin bass to create a smooth engaging sound. The acoustic guitar is to the fore, supported by percussion and Poloncic's voice which is soft, mostly low in the mix and somewhat indistinct, but with an edge that at times reminded me of Neil Young or Roger McGuinn - it is fragile and vulnerable, but not weak or broken. The synth and bass add generally subtle hints, but it is the cello that draws this album to its heights: the warmth and depth of its note are a wonderful addition. Without the cello this would be just another folky guitar album, but the instrument is allowed to stretch through the songs and the timbre suits the softness of Poloncic's approach. In terms of the seven songs, they are lyrical musically with well placed and mixed components - the percussion entering at the right time, finely balanced cello solos. Moonshine is a gentle opener, the pace builds into Silver fox, with more yearning to the voice and some nice little picks that sound almost electronic. Winter wind is bright; Halo has clearer lyrics sung more strongly and a captivating guitar melody. The highest kite is another strong clear vocal, while electric guitar features in In a book with a dense rhythm - and here is the first really clear reference in the lyrics to sanity. Finally, Build a town, that recalled early Cat Stevens, and the voice/guitar/cello play beautifully in parallel. This is not a curio, but a very strong lofi/folk release that is just too short - but well worth spending some time with. Lets hope for a longer one next time. - Jeremy Keens

(Monk Mink Pink Punk) Seven short country-tinged folk-rock that strongly remind me of the best of early, acoustic REM, and also parts of Television Personalities and the Flaming Lips. I assume singer Brian Poloncic plays the guitar and drums, with lush backing from cello, synthesizer (very subtle!) and bass guitar. The singing is moody and dour. I like the songs and arrangements better each time I listen to this. I think many people are trying to make this kind of music sound this emotive and perfect, and few are living up to it. - Josh Ronsen

(Sea of Tranquility) In certain circles, stock once put in good old fashioned sex and drugs has been transferred to mental illness. On one level, the unhealthy interest that critics take in the psychic trauma of Daniel Johnston, Skip Spence, and Roky Erickson is an opportunistic attempt to change the subject by writers who love writing about anything except the music. From another angle, though, the complicated pasts of artists like Brian Wilson provide a compelling alternate reading of their art. Such is the tightrope that Brian Poloncic's The Moon is Green EP crosses. Shortly before the release of his first album under the A Tomato a Day (Keeps the Tornados Away) moniker, Brian was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He would go on, his press materials proudly state, to spend time in mental hospitals in three states, and his statuesque Poseidon bearded stare from the liner notes suggests unspeakably confused loneliness. But what does it sound like? Much like the similarly marketed Daniel Johnston, Poloncic's music is insular lo-fi pop that has taken its inspiration, but not necessarily sound from the indie and punk movements. The lack of production clarity may turn off some listeners new to lo-fi, but the few instruments chosen provide for a rich and deep sound. Most songs are driven by what sounds like a 12-string guitar although many of the 20 minute work's best sections contain the guest cello of David Downing. "In a Book" comes nearest to rocking, in an early 90's Guided by Voices sort of way, with electric guitar throbbing just beneath the surface of Poloncic's intimate vocal. "Silver Fox", is his best song, with power pop hooks implied in a clever structure. Don't get too attracted or too horrified at the backstory. This is pleasant music crafted far away from major labels pressure and conventional categorization, with many points of interest for the adventurous listener. - Robert Short

(Indieville) A Tomato a Day a.k.a. Brian Poloncic's strange and anti-melodic brand of folk rock music makes for a challenging and somewhat eerie experience. Don't expect "tunes" in the traditional sense of the word here; although these seven tracks conform to pop song conventions of instrumentation (guitar/drums/bass/cello/vocals) and duration (average song length = exactly 3:00), Poloncic's singing makes all the difference here. On exemplary tracks "The Highest Kite" and "Silver Fox," his detached, tuneless vocals convert otherwise straightforward instrumentation into the background for unsettling, Jandek caliber anti-pop. To many, the combination might be frustratingly inaccessible, but to more open-minded listeners The Moon Is Green reveals itself to be a desperate, introspective, tortured, and yet strangely lovely EP. - Matt Shimmer

(Cyclic Defrost) In psychology, you’re taught to separate the individual from the illness. Because mental illness is such an all-encompassing malady, it’s important to reiterate that it’s not a personality trait. Think of it like a cold, or a broken leg. Leg’s heal and cold’s get better. Why shouldn’t depression be thought of in the same way? So it’s interesting that someone like Brian Poloncic is celebrated as a musician suffering from schizophrenia, as though it’s not only an irrevocable instrument but a badge of honour. So if I didn’t know that Poloncic had been in mental institutions in three states in America throughout the Nineties, would I judge his music differently? That’s the inherent conundrum with outsider art: personal biases will always inform our opinion of everything in the world, so does the fact that we know something was created by an individual suffering from a mental illness, do we critique it with a different set of rules? Should I review The Moon Is Green differently to, say, albums by Kimya Dawson or Devendra Banhart? The back-story to Poloncic makes for a far more interesting listening experience when you’re worming your way through The Moon Is Green, an EP of songs written by Poloncic released under the moniker A Tomato A Day, a group which includes David Downing on cello, Allen Hug on synthesiser and Dave Nordin on drums. Brooding and troubled, the songs are built around Poloncic’s impressive 12-string guitar playing. The ramshackle lo-fi recording does nothing to aid in the presentation of the numbers, though. Drums play out of time with the guitar, the songs speed up and down and generally nobody really seems to know what they’re doing. Poloncic’s gravel-scratched voice is limited and buried beneath Downing’s swooping cello and Hug’s occasional bursts of incongruous synths. ‘Silver Fox’ becomes a muddied shell of a song by its end, as does garage rocker ‘In A Book’. Perhaps with a guiding hand, The Moon Is Green could have turned out much better. There’s promise in songs like ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Winter Wind’, which houses a strong pop aesthetic. But it’s the fact that you know Poloncic suffers from a mental illness that imbues The Moon Is Green with a certain voyeuristic feeling – you find yourself listening out for the lyrics that communicate his schizophrenia, and sometimes you think you can hear the personal demons haunting the music. Put that aside, and The Moon Is Green becomes an aborted anti-folk EP with more potential than achievement. - Dom Alessio

(Chain DLK) After having heard this cd several times I’ve gone beyond my prejudices concerning Public Eysore producing this folk singer, actually when I received the cd I was like: “hey, they’ve put out experimental materials, psychedelic music and more…but…a folk singer?!”. Hard for me to say if this guy is just some psyched freak or just another heir of Will Oldham or Neil Young, the fact is that the songs are ok and the Oldham comparison could also be quite confusing, since the most of the songs are quite easy listening for being American folk music and coming from the alternative scene. Brian Poloncic’s trembling voice and crystalline acoustic guitar have been enriched with some synthesizer, cello and a bass guitar: really simple, right, but also well arranged. Being an ep you don’t have the time to get bored and as I’ve already said some songs like “moonshine” have some popular hooks where you need them, plus the recording is good which helps for such a release. Forget the most of the other numbers of Public Eyesore’s catalogue sicne this quite different, in the economy of the label’s rooster it could represent what Mike Judge and Old Smoke represented for Revelation back when Shelter, Bold, Burn and Quicksand were still kicking. Usually I don’t get mad for materials like that and I don’t believe it won’t change your life, but I still think this sounds much better than many recordings like that which are over produced, puffed up and sells probably more that mr. Poloncic. A Tomato Day sounds sincere which is enough for me to appreciate a folk oriented work in 2008. - Andrea Ferraris

(Aiding & Abetting) Brian Poloncic shares his institutional history with Roky Erickson. And he writes songs in a similar--if much less deranged-- vein. These pieces often cling to some sense of rationality within a pretty acoustic pop setting. I'm not sure if Poloncic is holding back or he's just overcrafting a bit, but I'd like these songs to have just a bit more oomph. - Jon Worley

(Dead Angel) Band leader Brian Poloncic began making music after a stint in a mental hospital (where he was treated for schizophrenia), but you'd never guess that from listening to this album. While his mental state (as articulated in the poop sheet that came with this disc) may have some bearing on his musical state, it's also misleading, because it suggests that this is going to be the product of a confused mental process, and instead it's merely a straightforward pop record. In fact, it's one of the most accessible albums I've ever heard on the PE label, and while it's possibly a tad eccentric by mainstream pop standards, it's certainly light years removed from the usual free jazz / skronk / improv aesthetic championed by the label lo these many years. Playing guitar, percussion, and singing, Poloncic is ccompanied by a cellist, bassist, and synth player, and the seven tracks on this album incorporate elements of post-rock (odd noises, background sounds, deviations from traditional song structure at times, and so on), but is otherwise squarely in the pop-rock tradition. Given the emphasis on Poloncic's mental state, comparisons to lo-fi pop maven Daniel Johnston are almost certainly inevitable, but Poloncic's songs are far more accomplished and nuanced than anything Johnston's ever done, although the two artists do share a certain tendency toward melancholy themes. There are times where the material resembles the psychedelic near-country style of The Black Heart Procession; there's a folk element that predominates throughout the album, even during the moments that hint obliquely at his noise roots (he also plays in the free-noise ensemble Naturaliste). This should certainly be an eye-opener for those steeped in the PE catalog, and enjoyable listening for anyone who appreciates well-crafted pop songs played with unnatural passion. - RKF

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