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Divorce Magazine
Winter 1998-99 Vol.2, No.4

Songs To Divorce To

Vocalist Sean Altman recounts tales of love, marriage and divorce in doo-wop in his CD entitled seanDEMOnium. It seems too unreal - but what isn't with Altman, former frontman for Rockapella ("Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?"). The journey begins with "Person," then moves through "Falling Over You," "Marry Me," "Married Man," "Julie Gone," and then moves into "Miserable Destiny," a cynical groove - Bobby McFerrin with an edge. We just wonder how harsh Altman's split was when considering the last track: "Are You a Man?" SeanDEMOnium is available by calling (800) 711-3627 or via the internet at
Sound Views
Subterranean Music & Culture
Issue #51

seanDEMOnium is the first signal of intelligent life from the newly-discovered Planet Sean - an hour-plus debut disk that showcases the pent-up ambitions, romantic musings and good luck/hard luck life of Bronx native Sean Altman. He tirelessly plays the downtown club scene, living up to his reputation as the "Condiment King," punctuating his effervescent gigs with lo-fi treats for the audience: Milky Way miniatures, microwave shrimp rolls, and, of course, the holy trinity of condiments - ketchup, mustard and relish. For his record, he disarmingly depicts himself as a pigeon, but if any winged creature were to accurately portray Sean Altman, it would be a mockingbird, since it is hard to imagine any sound as being beyond his capability. The nineteen compositions on Seandemonium comprise a no-holds-barred compendium of some of pop music's most potent influences, including The Kinks, Todd Rundgren, The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Squeeze, The Persuasions, Crowded House, George Michael, King Missile, Boyz II Men, The Knack, and, lest we forget, The Fab Four.

Indeed, there is much that Seandemonium has in common with The White Album - both have thirty tracks, some of which are odd, amusical little nuggets that clock in well under a minute, and both use vocals in revolutionary ways (for example, McCartney's voice providing bass on "I Will").

Blessed with a genuinely great voice, Altman puts his god-given gift through the wringer, using his chops melodically, harmonically and percussively. He know how, because for eleven years, Altman sang, wrote and arranged for the group he had co-founded, fronted and guided to international success: Rockapella. Since their start in 1986, the vocal-only combo released nine records, won awards, and made numerous television appearances, including a regular gig on the PBS-TV daily show, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, for which Altman wrote the theme song. Life and career seemed to be in happy harmony, yet, in January 1997, Altman quit Rockapella to pursue his new destiny as a singer/songwriter.

Mark Keating
Mutant Renegade
(the online version)
September, 1998

Sean Altman - seanDEMOnium - CD

Sean has been best known in the past for being the founder of Rockapella of the Carmen Sandiego TV show. Now he's solo and this is a disk of his home demos. Some of the songs are totally acapella, where he does instrumentation using his voice. There are a few hilarious phone calls to major record labels asking if can come down and sign a record contract. His songs are fun, humorous and a far cry from his preteen songs from the Carmen Sandiego days.

If you're familiar with Moxy Fruvous you'll know what to expect except that several of his songs are reminiscent of the 50's crooners. Try something different and infectious, try Big Sean. {Grog}
New York Press
New York's Free Weekly Newspaper
September 2-8, 1998

Live Dates

Sean Altman
Arlene Grocery
September 20

To celebrate obtaining my driver's license in the summer of 1979, I made my first solo drive to the local mall to purchase what would be my last Queen album, Live Killers. Hardly a momentous occasion, but notable For one reason: I wanted to hear how they handled "Bohemian Rhapsody," especially that pseudo-operatic middle section. The liner notes stated that rather than attempt to sing such a complex passage, the band opted to play a record--in typical uncompromising Queen fashion"--and leave the stage in darkness, reentering for the blazing big-rock finale.

Let's just say I felt typically compomised. And I couldn't believe what Freddle's overbite did to his vocals.

Fast-forward to the summer of 1998. On the recommendauon of a friend, I pick up seanDEMOnium by Sean Altman, a former member of the a cappella group Rockapella. The album blows me away. Many of the songs are in fact performed a cappella, with Altman imitating drums, bass and even a wah-wah guitar on "Pretty Baby." Sometimes he comes off like Squeeze as a barbershop quartet, but overall, a very good pop album.

Live? In typically uncompromising fashion, he simply fleshed out the album's vocals with two guitars, bass and drums. No shame in that. Songs still sounded great, as he has structured them more on solid pop riffs than studio tricks. While I've grown used to defining a lead singer as having "character" in his or her voice, this is often a nice way of saying the person knows how to write a song, but sings like shit. In terms of vocal talent, Altman is light years ahead of most singers I tend to see in small clubs. And, boy, does he know it. It's no accident that his head is the largest graphic on his album cover. At times I felt like I was at an Up with People rally as Altman and the rest of his band seem so damn happy. I'm talking L. Ron Hubbard happy. This guy is the anti- Kurt Cobain. At one point, he played the Loew's Theaters theme song. A new song, "Unhappy Anniversary," has to be the most depressing he's ever written, and even that was delivered with the hint of a smile. I'd say something silly like he's too well-adjusted for his own good, but what the hell is that supposed to mean?

My only major complaint is that he leaned too hard on his old Rockapella material -- literally half of a one-hour show. Former Rockapella bandmate Elliott Kerman jumped onstage for a few of these numbers, and Altman clearly enjoyed him being there. Aside from "Zombie Jamboree," I know nothing about Rockapella as most of their albums are expensive Japanese imports. Nor was I a big fan of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, the PBS kids' show on which the band appered for years. But I can say that nearly every song on his new album is as good as, and often better than, the old songs he chose to play.

Insecurity? A hallmark of great pop music, and I'd bet Altman thrives on it. I had the eerie feeling that I was one of the few people in the good-sized audience who didn't know him personally. Even his mother was there. I noticed her clapping especially hard for his encore, wherein he gave the audience quite a scare by mimicking Billy Joel's "A Matter of Trust" count-off, but spared us by cutting into Rockapella's "Dick About Me." Until a few weeks ago, I didn't know dick about Sean Altman. Now I can't escape this mental image of me throttling him in a headlock. seanDEMOnium is available through his website,

William S. Repsher
Yeah Yeah Yeah
A Rock & Roll Magazine
Issue #12 - August 1998

Sean Altman seanDEMOnium

I haven't been paying close enough attention, but I do know that Sean has been bouncing around a cool circle of NYC popsters lately. This album is not so easily identifiable. Imagine a futuristic cool pop doo-wop a cappella hybrid. Well..sorta. There are some other instruments besides the voice but it's pretty sparse. Nevertheless there's a rich full sound to be found on these home recordings. He's got a real fine pop voice and a way with a song. Pick hit: "Married Man." Contact:
August, 1998

Sean Altman was born a human head attached to the body of a pigeon, which has to have its disadvantages. Ha ha! Seriously, that's how Altman is portrayed on the cover of his new CD, seanDEMOnium. Some may remember Altman from his bout of fame on the PBS TV series, Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, but I never saw that show. Altman clearly wishes to rock the Casbah in the guise of an old-fashioned romantic. I'm in love already. The really amazing thing about Altman is how he uses his unique and somewhat freakish vocal skills to emulate drums, guitars, and various musical sounds using only his mouth and related body parts - he's a human beat box! Plus, his silky voice thrills me more than a hot fudge sundae, making my heart skip a beat when I hear him croon love songs like "Marry Me" and "Falling Over You." This record also knows how to rock. There are 30 separate tracks, ranging from humorous sound bites (check out Sean's conversation with a receptionist at Elektra Records) to songs of love, cynicism, and happy stuff like that. seanDEMOnium is available through Altman's web site: Log on now! Log on now!

Gail Worley
Live Music Review
July, 1998

Sean Altman "seanDEMOnium"

Altman is best known for his work with Rockapella. Solo, he has unleashed what might be the finest album of acappella music ever produced. Challenging most pop music forms, Altman and his omni-vocals (although liner notes indicate guest vocal spots) attack from every conceivable direction. The juxtaposition of short bursts of sound ("Seandemonium Bop," "Baby Go Bye Bye") with longer pop and soul influenced tracks ("Hazel Eyes" and "Falling Over You") creates a pacing more akin to a Top 40 morning radio show than your typical CD of music. This yields predictability that'll have you constantly scanning the 30-track disc for favorite fragments.
The Messenger
Raleigh, North Carolina
July 1, 1998

New Music Twist on Power Pop

Every once in a while, when pop music seems to get a little stale and predictable, someone comes out of nowhere to rescue us from radio tedium by adding a spark of enthusiasm.

10CC did it in the 70s. Eric Carmen comes to mind. Todd Rundgren did it. Even the vapid 80s gave us a fresh jolt with the likes of The Bangles, the GoGos and Bananarama.

Sean Altman did it! "Who?" you say. The guy who used to front a band called Rockapella. The talented singer/songwriter has been lighting up New York clubs with his ironical, yet freshly conceived pop-rock genius. His solo album, seanDEMOnium on the little Big Sean label is making thousands upon thousands enjoy local concerts and FM radio again.

And at the rate Altman is going, he'll be a true star soon -- although he'll never take himself too seriously -- he's got too much irony and wit in his music (and his personality).

His music is filled with arresting hooks and pure pop with layers of vocal stacks piled neatly in the studio. All this is wildly offset by his unconventional breaks from traditional music and his lyrical use of irony -- sometimes satire. All this has made seanDEMOnium one of my favorite independent label records -- I confess, my very favorite -- to make it into stores this side of the millennium!

Of course, Sean's music is not simple innocuous pop, nor is it maudlin. He has an uncanny knack for blending his contemporary style to doo-wop 50s style a cappella.

Uncluttering techno-pop and synthesizer heavy music of the day, his art of simplification may be more progressive, ironically, than bands who turn basics into sophisticated musical forms. He could have made success so much easier if he just stuck to the Top 40 script. But no way -- not Sean.

He's the consummate professional. In the industry, the term is a musician's musician. As critics praise Altman for his intriguing musical sound and paying homage to roots, the public seems to be appreciating his wit and genius more quickly than even Sean may have expected.

Don't quite know what it sounds like from this rave review? Sorry, you'll just have to buy this album and hear for yourself. And by the time he flees the confines of New York, he'll be heading toward your town.

Until then, don't wait till stardom sets in next year. Buy this record -- it is certainly better than what is lurking around your stereo system right now!

It's better than what's been playing on mine since Nick Lowe re- invented power pop. Didn't mean to give away my age. It's just that it may be that long ago since someone as imaginative as Lowe has emerged. And in case you can't find it in stores, call (800) 711-3627 or check out the website at

Also ask about his new 30-minute video, "Planet Sean."

Yes, power pop will stand! Although it has never sounded quite like this before. Some may wonder whether this is all fact, fiction, illusion or The Beatles reunited in disguise! I can't ascertain which is which.

However, I can attest to the brilliance of one individual, who is making music fun and enjoyable again.

Long live pop. Thank you Sean Altman. Gotta go, it's been almost three hours since I've heard this new record called seanDEMOnium. You see, music was getting boring until this guy Sean Altman came along. Let me tell you about him...

Tony Mastrianni, syndicated writer
The Collector's Record and Compact Disc Marketplace
Volume 24 No. 15 Issue 469

July 17, 1998

Sean Altman
Big Sean (BSM1- 2)

This may well be one of the quirkiest albums we'll hear this year... and one of the most unique. Altman, founder and former member of the a cappella group Rockapella and composer of the theme music for the kids' classic Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, has opted for a solo route that takes him into some familiar and not-so-familiar territory. For the most part, Altman stays in the a cappella mode: In fact, actual instruments don't even make an appearance until at least a third of the way through the proceedings.

ln the interim, Altman comes off as a strange mutation of Bobby McFerrin and Matthew Sweet, a pure popster who's not only adept at stacking vocal harmonies, but also at using his voice to emulate the sounds of drums, bass and other assorted instruments. It sounds kind of weird and wacky at first, but it also works amazingly well.

0f course, a cappella as applied to rock 'n' roll is nothing new; the doowop groups of the '50s perfected that singing style to the point where instrumental accompaniment was sometimes superfluous. The Beach Boys, guided by the arranging genius of Brian Wilson, took those harmonies even further, making it an integral element in their pet sounds while elevating that vocal interplay to a new art form. Rap has made a vocal/rhythm combination all the rage, captivating some, confounding others.

And while Altman pays homage to these and other predecessors, he also attempts to redefine a cappella for the '90s, by reclaiming a style and sound that's been usurped by synths, sampling and all kinds of studio shenanigans. How successful he'll be with this back-to-the-basics approach remains to be seen, but he deserves credit for trying.

In the meantime, Altman plots his course with several immediate reference points, from the Beach Boys ("Person") to the Persuasions ("Falling Over You") to the Four Seasons ("I Won't Mind") with hints of the Beatles, Todd Rundgren and other power pop icons scattered in between. Building on his billowing harmonies -- which, like the other odd effects, are all produced by Altman himself -- he creates an effect that works so well that by the time he summons actual accompaniment on "Marry Me," it's scarcely needed.

Perhaps Altman reckoned that he'd be compromising his commercial potential not to use some traditional instruments, at least for part of the proceedings. But it also may be that Altman's ambitions are too much to contain on only one album.

As a case in point, he opts for a variety of guises here, from the sensitive singer/songwriter ("My Parents' Son") to Kinks clone ("You're Mine") to show tune buffoon ("Fan," a Grease-soundalike). On top of all that he maintains an eclectic... and eccentric... edge by throwing in lots of comedy and commentary between the tracks, including a phony phone call to Elektra Records that rivals the nutty nonsense of the Jerky Boys.

Fortunately, while there are a lot of styles to soak in, Sean weaves them together well. And that makes seanDEMOnium both entertaining and engaging.

Lee Zimmerman
Terry Marshall's Daily Insider
Number One in Music News Since 1981
July 6, 1998

"Had I known this would happen, I would have gone with my second name choice - 'Sirhan,'" said the mother of singer Sean Altman when she heard her son had been confused with a convicted murderer in Alaska. New York's Sean Altman is the former leader of Rockapella of "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" TV fame. Alaska's Sean Altman is now doing 110 years for a drive-by killing and two robberies. Singer Altman, who has just released his debut album "Seandemonium," is playing New York shows this month including the Intel Music Festival. "I've had my brushes with the law." he admits. "...A couple of paternity suits and a too-wide u-turn, but I draw the line at gun play."
July 1, 1998

Oh My God, It's seanDEMOnium!!!

(Big Sean Music, 1997)

"seanDEMOnium, Bop!", exclaims our hero as he begins unveiling his magnificent aural painting. Sean Altman, the former leader of the New York band Rockapella and performer on and writer of the theme to the PBS children's show "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?," launches his solo career with a wonderful melange of upbeat streetcorner a capella, instrument-accompanied poignant romantic ballads and rockers, and manifestations of male insecurites that many of us would love to express if only we had the necessary verbal facility.

Altman wears his influences -- like Sam Cooke, The Persuasions, The Beatles and XTC -- on his sleeve, but make no mistake about it: this is a work of effortless originality. It is no surprise that the a cappella numbers on seanDEMOnium are brilliant, given that his former group released nine albums!

Despite the fact that Altman does all the vocals on this album, he's able to create an authentic group sound. Songs like "Person," "Baby Go Bye Bye," "Married Man" and "Be My Friend" are instantly infectious; although they harken back to the days of urban streetcorner splendour, they exhibit uniquely funky arrangements that fit well into the contemporary ethos. Two other a cappella tracks particularly stand out: "Miserable Destiny" is filled with "sheyboms" and a rambling monologue in which Altman quotes several 1970s AM radio song titles, and "Julie Gone" is so catchy that if Altman could clone himself and perform it on a sidewalk, you'd be so transfixed that you'd never get to where you were going!

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of seanDEMOnium is Altman's versatility. The snappy funk is greatly diminished on the instrument -accompanied tracks, both in the writing and vocals. Altman displays a lovely tenor that will make you think of a slightly lower-registered Henry Gross or Lou Christie, which serves him well on the angst-ridden "Rebecca," "Hazel Eyes," and "Presto Change-o." He can also rock out a bit. Check out the muscular Jackson Five-ish "Falling Over You" and the cathartic "Are You A Man?". The most memorable track is the extremely romantic "Marry Me." Warning: please arm yourself with plenty of Kleenex.

Don't worry about shedding some tears, though -- they will dry up when you hear the hilarious interjections between tracks. For example, you'll hear Altman ask a very confused receptionist for a record contract!

With seanDEMOnium, Altman has accomplished the rare feat of combining urban and suburban sensibilities, all within a dizzying musical encasement. Simply wonderful!

David Bash
Stereo Review
July 1998

Frontman from Rockapella ("Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?") goes solo and, natch, delights with vocal gymnastics, but he also serves up some fine ballads and pop songs with instruments. Fun.
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