Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Modern rock, pop....hell, whatever you want to call it, you'll probably be happy to know that Matthew Sweet has a new album coming out on September 20th. And perhaps, you'll be even happier to know that to these ears at least, the album sounds pretty damn good. Sweet's last album 'Sunshine Lies' didn't quite hit it with me, but I was still interested to hear new music when I heard that it was on the way.
Titled 'Modern Art,' after a few initial listens, I'd call it worth the wait and it's a collection of music that sits quite well sonically with his past work. So if you dig the classic era Sweet stuff, this album seems like it has legs to stand quite nicely with his output to date.
Here's a preview of the title track:
Also, it appears that if you thought his last few releases were too damn loud, they've addressed that and given a special shout out to vinyl lovers as well:
"Modern Art’s inventiveness extends to its final stages: mastering engineer Glenn Schick employed his unique “triple analog” process, whereby the masters for the album were cut to virgin lacquer acetates and meticulously transferred back to digital, resulting in a rich, full-bodied, “vinyl” sound. “It’s not too loud, because we wanted to allow the dynamics to breathe,” Schick explains."
For more Sweet-related fun, you can look forward to a new Sweet-produced album from the Bangles called 'Sweetheart of the Sun,' which will be released on September 13th.....which means that it will be a pretty good month for music fans, especially if you like Matthew Sweet and the Bangles!
Here's the complete press release for the Matthew Sweet album:
On September 20, 2012, Matthew Sweet will release Modern Art (Missing Piece Records), the eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2008’s Sunshine Lies.
Throughout a career that stretches back to the mid-‘80s, Matthew Sweet has never followed trends, though his landmark 1991 album Girlfriend was responsible for starting one: in fact, many critics note that most power pop records made during the ‘90s owe a tremendous debt to Sweet. Two decades after the release of that iconic album, Sweet has once again swung for the fences – and connected – with the boldly experimental, yet deeply personal Modern Art.
Defiantly unorthodox, but often playfully so, Modern Art features 12 new compositions of Sweet’s trademark wistful, yearning pop that recall some of Sweet’s touchstones: the Beatles, Beach Boys and Big Star. “She Walks the Night” is reminiscent of early-period Byrds, while “Ladyfingers” stomps along with the authority of T. Rex. Other standout tracks include the swirling, psychedelic “Oh, Oldendaze!,” the ruggedly assertive “Late Nights With the Power Pop,” the acerbically witty “Evil By Design, Goodbye Nature” and the sweetly soulful “Modern Art.”
For this record, Sweet discarded his normal process of laying down ideas as they came to him and shaping them into songs. Instead, he allowed these spontaneous kernels of music dictate the direction of each piece. “In the past, I’d make deliberate changes of structures and normalize things, but this time, I wanted to make it abstract but still human and natural.” He reflects “That approach gave it a super-personal feel that was really melodic and musical but still different, so I ran with it. And in an odd way, this record feels more like me than anything I’ve done.”
Longtime musical cohort Ric Menck (Velvet Crush) does all the drumming on the album (except for “Ivory Tower,” which is built on a random drum pattern supplied by Sweet’s friend, actor/musician Fred Armisen). Dennis Taylor’s deft and urgent guitar lines serve as a running commentary to Sweet’s introspective singing.
Sweet expounds on the genesis of the album’s title: “I first wrote down the phrase ‘modern art’ as a possible song title, and it struck a chord with me because of its similarity to ‘modern heart’ – like a stare-down between the strange newness of time and the living and feeling-filled but surely doomed heart.”
Modern Art’s inventiveness extends to its final stages: mastering engineer Glenn Schick employed his unique “triple analog” process, whereby the masters for the album were cut to virgin lacquer acetates and meticulously transferred back to digital, resulting in a rich, full-bodied, “vinyl” sound. “It’s not too loud, because we wanted to allow the dynamics to breathe,” Schick explains. Modern Art will be available on all formats (vinyl, CD and digital) on September 20, 2011. The vinyl version of the album will feature an exclusive bonus track, “At the Screen (With the World Flowing In)” as well as a digital album download.more
Written by: Peter Chakerian
Has it really been 25 years since 'Play Deep,' the debut album from British power pop trio, The Outfield? Or 22 years since the last new material that founding members John Spinks (guitars), Tony Lewis (bass) and Alan Jackman (drums) have recorded together—the buoyant 'Voices of Babylon?'
It has. And while I feel old typing that, rarely have I felt so young at once. Why? The group’s brand new effort 'Replay' makes good on all the youthful summertime vibes that earmarked their early work. In fact, it’s the kind of album that makes you feel 1985 again, even when “there’s a clock on the wall… and a mirror reflecting it all” telling you otherwise.
The Outfield took to the airwaves in 1985 with their multiplatinum debut. During the next four summers, the group dominated pop radio and summer concert sheds with a sound so minty fresh, so without airs, and yet so undeniably shrewd, engaging and cotton-candy crafty—not even to mention incredibly American sounding—that MTV audiences couldn’t help but sit up and take notice.
The love affair didn’t last forever, at least with radio followers. But it did for me.
By the time 1989’s 'Voices' arrived, things were steering toward urban contemporary and rap, with sign posts suggesting the alt-revolution was to come. Nonetheless, the group (sans Jackman) soldiered on to ten Billboard chart hits and millions of record sales across the globe.
All that to say, 'Replay' is like Bryan Singer’s reboot of the 'Superman' movie franchise a few years ago: it virtually ignores that anything happened after 'Babylon,' while maintaining a true and defining line to the songcraft and production structure of those first three records. 'Replay' has everything in its right place.
The first single 'California Sun' might as well have been a 'Babylon' b-side. Ditto the sprightly 'Aladdin’s Cave,' 'New York City' and 'Disraeli Years.' Lush vocals abound, with the dual-channel Lewis-Spinks harmonies recalling simpler times, sunnier days and influential classic rock and pop bands at once.
Yes, there are ballads. Natch! It’s The Outfield, after all… but they’re done with a keen eye on the current surroundings and an ear on everything that made (and makes) The Outfield pure magic.
Those poppy brushstrokes, balmy harmonies and chiming guitar lines layer 'Replay'—written, produced, done-and-dusted by Spinks, who owns the masters according to the liners. Dunno what that all means, but if he had to get all overlord to make this record and restore the act’s legacy, it worked.
'Replay' is a time machine designed to suspend disbelief that embraces and rejects time passing. I played this outside in my backyard on a Sunday with a cold Sunkist soda in my hand and my feet in my kids’ wading pool—praise be, of course, to Sir Matt of Wardlaw.
And for a closed-eye moment, I was a skinny (ok, skinnier) 13-year-old at my neighborhood pool waiting for rest period’s end and that night’s softball game and hot dogs on the nearby diamond.
Maybe that means I’ve given up on “what’s next,” but I’d like to think that it means for me what it means for Spinks: that the past was pretty good, the future’s always bright, that you can go home again with the right songs in your heart… and yes, summertime rolls.more