For the past few years, Matthew Sweet has been celebrating his classic ‘90s release Girlfriend with a series of full album performances. The shows which initially came about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album’s release proved that Girlfriend remains one of the more well-crafted releases from the decade. It holds up well, which as you probably know, is not something that always is the case when you’re listening back to albums past.
It’s fun to look back, but now Sweet is beginning to take steps towards writing and recording his next album which is slated to be released in early 2015. He’s using Kickstarter to fund the project and fans will have access to a number of incentives if they pledge, including things like the opportunity to own a piece of Sweet’s own custom 3-D printed art. He’ll make the demos for the album available as one of the additional incentives and there are lots of other options, including the chance to have Matthew either write a song for you and/or record and produce a song for you.
One Sweet fan has already pledged 10 grand to secure a “live house party” with Matthew and his band -- so as you might be able to tell, he’s having some fun with the campaign.
In his notes about the project, he says “I'm going to write all new songs and make demos for the album, focusing on a strong clear delivery, energetic and heartfelt from rock to melancholy and back again.”
Presently, he’s on the road with his longtime roadmates Ric Menck, Paul Chastain and Dennis Taylor for a series of summer dates being billed as the “Matthew Sweet Rock Show.” The shows which started earlier this month and are scheduled to wrap up in early August, will feature a wide selection of material from across Sweet’s career, including cuts from fan favorite albums like Girlfriend, 100% Fun and Altered Beast, all of the way up through his latest album Modern Art, which was released in 2011.
We caught up with Matthew at home in Omaha for a brief conversation to talk about the upcoming album, the current tour which will bring him to the Beachland Ballroom on July 23rd, and unexpectedly, J.J. Abrams.
It’s exciting to hear about this new album and the Kickstarter campaign.
I planned to do a Kickstarter for a while and just hadn’t done it yet, but I finally got one off the ground and my idea with it is that I would try to maybe go back to the past and approach it more like I would have long ago. You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve made demos for things, because I can record at home, I’ll just be writing while I’m recording still. I thought this time it might be cool to write all of the songs first, make demos of them and then take what goes on the album out of those demos. I thought it would be an interesting thing to make those demos available as well. I want it to be a whole project where I write it all, I demo it all, I record it all and then it goes to the fans. So I don’t know, I guess for my own guidance, I put those rules in place.
From your perspective, what do you accomplish for yourself by going back to doing it that way.
I don’t know, it’s just very song-oriented, where songs can fly on their own without being dressed up any certain way. I think it’s a good way to know what [kind of] material a song is, but it’s also just fresh for me to go back and approach it that way where it doesn’t have to be a record yet.
That makes a lot of sense and I think as we’ve heard from some of your demos in the past, certainly there are songs that have changed from where they started as demos compared to how they ended up on the album versions. I guess if you’re just recording straight to the final versions for the album, maybe that evolution doesn’t happen in the same way.
I think that’s probably true. But my main focus is just thinking about the songs, I guess. In terms of how they transform, they kind of do that on their own. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that I plan, like “Let’s make it from the demo and let’s change it to this.” It just kind of naturally happens.
On the flip side of things, you’ve now done three volumes of covers with Susanna Hoffs. How much do you find the experience of making those albums really feeding back into your own new music when you get down to making albums?
You know, I don’t know. I don’t know how much I exactly do. It’s something that’s an interesting exercise, because I listen to those old records and kind of think, “What’s everybody playing on it?” and stuff, but I’ve never felt exactly how that transfers over, other than I do tons of engineering and playing on those records. [Laughs] It’s probably good for me, chops-wise. But that’s a hard question for me to answer. I don’t know exactly how, but it can’t be bad hearing lots of great songs.
For sure. I read an interview that you did last year where you said that you don’t listen to new music when you’re writing. Beyond that, are you drawn to musical discovery at all as it relates to new music? Does that stuff still interest you?
Honestly, not a lot. If things get to me, it’s usually through other people or through reading about them. It’s kind of not just when I’m writing music. I would say that since I became a recording artist many years ago, listening to other music has been different for me. I think way, way back, if I listened to other stuff, it made me feel so bad about how terrible I was, that I just had to be in my own world without it. [Laughs]
Now, I think it’s just more that I enjoy silence when I’m not working on music. So I will tend to not really play a lot of music in the car or anything. But I do go through periods where I will. I’ll get into it just for inspiration and it is fun to hear cool records. It’s weird, it’s almost like that part of me kind of separate, like the part of me that enjoys music and can be a fan is a little bit outside of the guy who writes songs for some reason. [Laughs] I don’t know if that makes sense.
It does! When you listen to those records that you’ve done with Susanna, it’s clear that those records come from a place where both of you guys are definitely fans. So hearing you talk about that is interesting, because it doesn’t seem like it bothers you to have that ability to be a music fan taken away.
It would bother me if I didn’t make music a lot, I think. I would probably play a lot more music and be drawn to it more. I mean, I don’t want to sound like I’m not interested or don’t care. I mean, I hear things that are cool or whatever and I have a general idea of stuff. It’s also just such a different time with the internet, there’s just so much more than there used to be. [Laughs]
There’s a lot to explore and I think that because of the time that it is, this sort of post-music business era for most artists, I think it’s probably a really fertile time for great music and art. I think that it will just take longer to catalog and categorize everything that’s happening now, because there’s just so much of it. It’s harder for people probably to break through, but I bet there are a lot of interesting things.
You’re right, with the internet, there’s an overload of stuff. It’s quite a contrast to growing up years back, where you would buy an album as a kid and spend a month or more listening to that album. I think that time is long gone at this point.
Yeah, now the attention span is very limited. People just don’t have as much focus because there’s so much else available to them and going on. If you’re young now, it’s probably hard to really understand how much we didn’t know about anything before the internet, in terms of the way it made music more mysterious and made the experience of escaping with an album -- that’s how you got into your own world and away from other people and your parents and stuff.
Or it’s the way that you bonded with your friends in listening to things together. It was a really cool thing then and there’s an amazing amount of stuff that got created and made during all of those years, but still compared to now, I think things are easier to discern before the internet.
The current Kickstarter that you’re doing for your new album is pretty cool. One part of it is the opportunity to own some of your 3-D printed art. I think that many folks are aware at this point that you’ve done some pottery stuff in recent years. How did you get into the 3-D printing stuff?
My old friend Lloyd Cole decided he wanted to make a record in Los Angeles and have Fred Maher play drums on it and myself play bass. He was longtime friends with J.J. Abrams who created Lost and he has this company called Bad Robot and he directs the new Star Trek movies and he’s doing that Star Wars movie they’re filming right now where Harrison Ford broke his ankle or whatever! He has his production company office in Santa Monica and there he has a recording studio and they also have an in-house art department and stuff.
It’s not the greater place where they do all of the stuff for the movies, but it’s more like his own little space. In their art department there, they had a great big 3-D printer and they were showing me how they printed phasers for the Star Trek movies and they could change what size they were and everything and then the art department would paint them. I had brought some pottery in to give to a couple of people and when I met J.J. and we were talking about 3-D printing, I started wondering if I could somehow 3-D print prototypes for my pottery. Ultimately, I wanted to try to make bronze casted items, so he set me up with a guy who worked there who helped me learn about the 3-D printing and learn a little bit about how I would create things in software.
I got a MakerBot printer and eventually they came out with a little scanner and I started scanning pieces of my pottery. Originally, I didn’t think of the actual printed pieces as being the art, but I started taking some and painting them with metallic paints that will rust or get patinas when you spray various things on them. I started thinking “These are really cool on their own,” so I decided those could be a less-expensive reward on the Kickstarter. But you know, it’s just me getting my hobbies into things and trying to explore some other mediums besides just pottery, although I do plan to keep making pottery as well.
Let’s talk about your current tour. You are someone who often seems to hit the road with a new album to promote, but this time is a little bit different. What was it that got you back out on the road for this current run of tour dates?
Well, you know, I’ve been touring a lot the last few years, which has been really good. We played the whole Girlfriend album a lot in 2011 and 2012. I think in 2013, we might have played our last couple of all-Girlfriend shows. So we’re just kind of working our way out of that and we had the tour planned for this summer as a “Let’s go out and do a tour” kind of thing and it happened to coincide with the Kickstarter.
It took me so long -- I really would have run the Kickstarter earlier this year if I’d had it a little more together. But it took me until now, so it just sort of weirdly coincided with the tour, because I’ll be able to go out and talk about it to people I know are fans. It’s going really well. I think we’re almost three-quarters of the way to the goal, so I am hopeful that it will fund, but we still have to get more people to come on and donate. It’s pretty amazing, it’s only 230 people who have raised three-quarter’s worth of the money. So it’s pretty cool that when you band together, how you can raise the funds to do these sort of things with not that huge a group of people.
Absolutely. Going back to what you were saying about the Girlfriend dates, that show was probably one of my favorite full-album shows that I’ve seen various folks do.
Oh, that’s awesome!
That album has held up really well, it would seem. Did it feel that way to you when you went out and did those shows?
Yeah, for sure! You know, people have asked me a lot over the years, “Do you get so sick of playing ‘Girlfriend’” or whatever. I never really felt that way about it. It was a very personal effort for me when I made it and it feels that way to me still and I guess I didn’t know what to expect it would be like going through the whole album. It was such a trip back in time, but it really just felt normal to me and people just enjoyed it so much. It was fun to see them relive it as well. I love playing those songs and so it’s kind of cool that we still are a little bit Girlfriend-heavy, because we have a couple of extra songs that we didn’t used to play that we really like playing from it. So I’m still working my way out of only doing Girlfriend.
I think it’s fun for folks for a lot of reasons. For me, I missed seeing the original Girlfriend tour, so it was great to have a second shot.
Yeah, sure! Those shows are so fun also, because everybody there really knows it. So it’s like a real experience.
I want to ask one more question about Girlfriend and that is, what was the reaction like when you handed in the Altered Beast album on the heels of that one?
You know, handing it in, it was okay. I was very near the label where I recorded it and they were pretty involved in that they got to come a lot and hear everything a lot. It was a difficult situation, because I really didn’t want to make Girlfriend II that was just the same. I wanted to kind of explore and try some other things and I think also the experience of having Girlfriend be really successful caused a sort of split in my personality that I didn’t understand how to make whole at the time of Altered Beast. [Laughs] So I really felt like it was two people. There was sort of this weird, evil, sarcastic edgy person and then there was the more normal, heartfelt, loving person. For some reason, I just felt them separating at that time.
So I think of Altered Beast as being a little bit crazy. I think when it came out, there was a general feeling, a sort-of “Not as good as Girlfriend” feeling, but the fans that I’ve met over the years and now, I think they really like Altered Beast. Looking back, I’m glad I made a record that was really free-form of how I was feeling at the time rather than trying to carefully create something that “worked.” So I have really good feelings about it. I’m sure it became a gold record at some point. I don’t have a gold record for that, but it sold over 400 thousand records at the time, so it was still pretty successful and luckily, I guess label-wise, I made 100% Fun next and that did well as well, better than Altered Beast. So even though it’s sandwiched between those really successful records, it did pretty well for the record that it is.
In a time when both the music industry and the artists themselves are struggling to figure out a new financial model that works, the full album performance seems to be the latest carrot being dangled in front of today's music fan. On a large scale, the idea has been overwhelmingly successful, because who wouldn't want to see Bruce Springsteen play through an entire album? Often, it's the chance to see something that you've never seen – such as Rush performing the rarely played 'The Camera Eye' as part of their run through the classic 'Moving Pictures' album.
I've seen the good and bad sides of this concept – on the good side, it's a joyful reunion for both the band/artist and their fans, a chance to revisit a mutually loved piece of work that holds special meaning for all involved. But the other side of it is that when it doesn't work, you can feel the awkwardness on stage as they attempt to track through an entire album that they really have no interest in revisiting, shuffling through the entire running order somewhat listlessly before reaching the end and saying “there's the album, now let's play some other stuff.”
When it came to the idea of Matthew Sweet performing the entire 'Girlfriend' album, I knew that there was no way that the idea could possibly fall short – and I'll admit that it was the optimist in me thinking that. Although I had seen a show from Sweet in 2008 on the 'Sunshine Lies' tour that was a bit sub-par, I just had a good feeling about this 'Girlfriend' thing, because the source material he was working from had been so magic and as a result in my mind, the mojo would be too good for this not to work out.
From the cosmic feedback that emanated from the amps at the opening of 'Divine Intervention,' it was clear that it was indeed going to be quite a “divine” night of music at the Kent Stage. Both on record and in the live setting, Sweet has always had a great band of players behind him and on this evening, it was mostly the usual suspects with longtime drummer Ric Menck – himself a veteran of the original 'Girlfriend' album sessions and Menck's fellow Velvet Crush member Paul Chastain on bass and vocals, with Dennis Taylor filling out the lineup on guitars and additional backing vocals.
This lineup of players paired with Sweet proved to be tactically the perfect unit to tear through every inch of the 'Girlfriend' album with fully charged amounts of enthusiasm that properly rendered each cut as remembered with not a single second of that feeling like it was tossed off as album filler.
Statistically, 'Girlfriend' might be front-loaded with 'Divine,' the syrupy 'I've Been Waiting' and of course, the unforgettable title track, but it's the rest of the songs that remind you exactly how good of an album 'Girlfriend' was and in 20 years, it hasn't lost a single bit of its charm. After playing those first three, Sweet quipped “thank you, goodnight!” and said “now, we're getting to the deep tracks.”
All of these years later, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's learned a little bit more about life and with those additions, comes a better understanding of exactly what Matthew Sweet was getting at with the songs on 'Girlfriend.' You gain a stronger appreciation for the mental numbness that he captured so perfectly with 'You Don't Love Me' (which really came through as he performed this one live) and the resignation that lies behind the words as he sings “what a beautiful moment/ the truth comes out at last/ once your heart would own me forever/then this passed/and what a beautiful moment/as my head comes apart/drunk and in a manner of saying, wasted.”
Another moment from 'I Wanted To Tell You,' just the thought that “I wanted to tell you....what I couldn't say.” Romance, as we know now, can reduce even the most articulate person to nothing at the moment when they need that string of words the most.
Summarizing the album, Sweet told Rolling Stone at the time that it was released, “It's funny how the album ended up showing everything I needed to feel. Everything I needed as an antidote is there.” I think that says a lot about why Girlfriend' still works so well as an album today – it covers the entire range of emotions and mental confusion that we've all experienced. The divorce that inspired Sweet's third album, which ultimately would provide his breakthrough moment, gave him some of the most potent material he'd ever release.
The current crop of 'Girlfriend' shows is a very necessary chance for fans to revisit a true classic album and although Sweet chuckled when an audience member suggested that perhaps he should release a live album from these shows, one can hope that these performances are being documented in some form. Sweet and his band paid perfect tribute to the spirit of 'Girlfriend' and it would be a shame to not bottle the moment.
There are about two weeks of dates left on the current tour and if you've got a copy of this album sitting in your collection, don't you dare skip out on this show. Alternatively, if you're looking to discover a great album you might have missed, your moment of discovery awaits.
Matthew has a new album out called 'Modern Art' (from which he played only the current single, 'She Walks The Night' during Thursday's performance) which you can check out here.
He's been doing quite a few interviews about the new release and the 'Girlfriend' shows - read a recent chat with Matthew done by Scott of 3 Minute Record for KDHX and also, Mike Ragogna's interview with Sweet at The Huffington Post.
After the show was over, I spent some good time revisiting the 'Girlfriend' album and the companion 'Goodfriend' promotional disc that features alternate acoustic and electric versions of many of the 'Girlfriend' album tracks. You can get both discs via the Legacy Edition of 'Girlfriend' that was released a couple of years ago and at the very least, if you already have the album but haven't heard the second disc of 'Goodfriend' tracks, you really need to - it's such an excellent companion to the album.
Dig for example, this alternate take on 'Girlfriend.'
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.
I read with amusement yesterday the tale of bloggers that are hanging it up because the visions of fame, book deals and company cars never came around. I thought it was interesting on a couple of levels - 1) the fact that somebody actually took the time to track down enough of these people to craft a story (that's either fine journalism at work or a slow day in the newsroom) and 2) we're supposed to feel sorry for these guys as we read their tales of woe? Depending on your point of view, they either had reasonable expectations that didn't come through or alternatively, they were looking to get too much out of it. Sure, there are book deals and similar things that can happen out of a blog or even a Twitter account if you're one of those guys that can be really funny in 140 characters or less.
So where does that leave the rest of us who are interested in just having a new way to interact with people that happens to bring with it the possibility of a few perks? I guess that leaves us right here on sites like this one, which I've always looked at as a way to digitize the normal music geek conversations that I have with my friends (some of whom might never want to hear me talk about music ever again). Every cool thing that happens to come my way on top of that (like a Lemmy screening, for example) is merely a nice bonus. So if you're looking to get into blogging, I guess some good advice would be to manage your expectations appropriately so that you don't end up as a featured player in a unintentionally funny story like the one linked above.
It's just some food for thought, not that you asked me. Now that we've got that out of the way, here' s a few things that have brought excitement to my not-so-inner musical geek recently:
Damnwells on vinyl
As The Damnwells prepare to release their new album No One Listens To The Band Anymore (which is my early candidate for greatest album title of the year) in March, they've announced that the album will be available on vinyl in several flavors and you'll also be able to get the previous Damnwells album One Last Century on vinyl as well. Both are priced modestly at $20 each and are available now for pre-order via Clifton Motel (also a cool name!). The vinyl will be released day and date with the regular edition of the new Damnwells disc, which will be available on March 15th.
Smithereens vs. Don Dixon = new Smithereens album!
Smithereens front man Pat DiNizio delivered the exciting news that the band have finished recording their new album with producer Don Dixon. This represents a reunion for the band and Dixon, who previously produced the Smithereens albums Especially for You and Green Thoughts way back when and it will be the first proper Smithereens studio release of new original material since God Save The Smithereens in 1999 (since then, there have been solo albums, tribute albums and a live album). Dixon is currently mixing the 13 track album which will be released on April 15th on E1/Koch Records. For vinyl fans, I understand that there's a good chance you'll be able to buy this one on black wax. I had the opportunity to preview "Sorry," one of the tracks from the new album when the 'Reens gave it an official first airing at DiNizio's birthday show this past October in New Jersey. (You can watch Youtube footage of the song here.) A classic Smithereens rocker, "Sorry" finds the band turning up the amps once again and from what I'm hearing, there will be plenty of rock and roll for everyone's enjoyment on this new album. Bring it on!
(And could this image posted on DiNizio's Facebook page be the new album cover?)
The Gathering Field, live in concert and live on disc in your living room!
I've been a fan of Pittsburgh-based rockers The Gathering Field for quite a few years now and although the band has been mostly dormant in recent years, they have played a few reunion shows in Pittsburgh. The band's 2007 show at Station Square left me speechless, wrapping up with a signature cover of Matthew Sweet's "Divine Intervention" and a few choice catalog cuts that were about the only remaining songs that I was hoping that they'd play on the night. A short time later, I made contact with Dave Brown, longtime producer and guitarist for the band and asked him if they had any live shows professionally recorded in the vaults and at the time, all he had were some audience recordings that they had made through the years, which I guess would fall into the category of "professional bootleg." I was disappointed to hear that, because the Station Square gig proved that they hadn't lost a step and made me think that their live show really needed to be documented officially for the masses.
Good news comes to those who wait and in a recent email blast to fans, front man Bill Deasy revealed that the band's November reunion show was recorded and will be released this spring as a double CD live album (and presumably, available as a digital download like the rest of their catalog). I missed the show due to a schedule conflict, but Deasy reports that the full 20 song set will be released and that it "really seems to capture the spirit of that time and that band and that whole GF experience, which is to say, I think you're really going to like it." Fair enough. The band's 1996 release Lost in America is a true piece of treasure for those who were lucky enough to hear it and if you haven't had the chance, there's still time.
I'm glad that magazines like Tape Op find a way to continue to exist in these choppy waters for both publications and journalists. The ultimate resource for producers, recording geeks and gear hounds, the latest issue is especially cool, featuring R.E.M. producer Scott Litt, interviewed by Chris Stamey of the dB's and also an interview with legendary producer Reinhold Mack, both of which are must-read geek out material for music fans of all ages. You can acquire the new issue here and sign up for a free (!!!) subscription here as well.
I'll leave you with a concert remembrance from my pal Adam, who spends some time looking back at his DLR (that's David Lee Roth....did I really need to tell you that??) concert experience at the Richfield Coliseum in 1986. I haven't seen DLR solo, but I came close to seeing him in the mid-90s when he played a show at the Cleveland Agora on the Your Filthy Little Mouth tour.
Enjoy, y'all - we'll talk soon!
White or not, there is a deficiency of women artists on the rock boat. I'm not looking for the next Lilith Fair on water, as I'm only half gay and then I would complain about penises, but seriously, how awesome would THAT cruise be? Moving on, I think the boat could use a little more estrogen. Ahem, of legal drinking age.
All that not intended to be said out loud, the women included in this year's TRBX music festival were nothing short of amazing.
The Bridges were instantly one of my faves upon listening to TRBX sample CD. Matt informed me they opened up for the one-and-only Susanna Hoffs and the Bangles. The Bridges are an (almost) all-female band comprised of siblings and one cousin -- Brittany Painter -- who writes most of the lyrics and leads the group with an amazing set of vocal chords. Siblings Natalie Byrd, Stacey Byrd, Isaaca Byrd and Jeremy Byrd all collaborate on music, AND The Bridges are produced by THE one-and-only Matthew Sweet.
I would compare their music to a cross of Girl in a Coma female rocker angst, with softening influences of Fleetwood Mac. Their TRBX show in the Candlelight Lounge was a definite DO NOT MISS. Unfortunately for my boyfriend, he DID miss it (we separated for this show) -- and upon seeing the acoustic artist collaboration on the last night of the cruise between The Bridges and Sister Hazel, did he realize his error. The performance was chilling.
During that Candlelight concert, I sat with an older couple (who I SWEAR had to be their parents or something... I didn't pursue). Throughout the show, they both asked my opinions on each song, on the band itself -- what I liked, didn't like -- what other kind of music I enjoyed or would compare the girls to. It's not often someone asks your opinion at shows, and I gave it -- The Bridges are fantastic. I need not hesitate to gush on their music and lyrics. And thanks for the cranberry & vodka! Cheers!
TRBX performance (obvs, recording is not great):
Did I mention they are also HOT!? Err, and too young.
"Pieces" is a hit. I also love their songs "Runaway" and "All the Words."
These girls have talent out the wazoo. And Ken Block approves.
The second and last female-centric act (yes, there is a chick in Gaelic Storm too, who will be featured in a different post) was Chelsea Williams.
Surprisingly, this chick makes her living performing on the STREETS of Los Angeles. Therefore, there is not a whole lot of background info. Take an opportunity to listen to some of her music on her Web site. Upon entry of The Rock Boat, she was playing acoustic for us in the atrium. Her set includes a perfect selection of covers (Salt n Pepa!!!) and original songs, comparable to the great voices of Brandi Carlile and KT Tungstall (two of my favorite female artists).
I heard rumors on the boat as to her breaking out in song at random opportunities -- and there is evidence! I love this Elevator Party video a fan posted on YouTube:
By the way, it was Mardi Gras Night - crazy, random shit like this happened all over the boat at any time.
But you can gather a bit more of her talent in this video:
Right? I may or may not have chased her around the boat like a dog in heat. Or was that my boyfriend? Hey, her fault for wearing short jean skirts and cowboy boots. RAWR.
This post is a combined rock and roll effort brought to you by the fine folks at Addicted to Vinyl and captain's dead.
Our man Gregor recently posted the first volume of a two volume set of Matthew Sweet demos from the Altered Beast album. I got in touch with Gregor and let him know that I had the second volume, and he suggested that I should post it here.
I'll admit that Altered Beast wasn't quite the followup that I was looking for/expecting post-Girlfriend. In fact, when the album came out in 1993, seventeen year old me told Altered Beast to go file itself in my CD collection, filed under "S" for sh*t!
Much later, I heard this song called "Devil With The Green Eyes," and asked myself where had this Matthew Sweet song come from, and how did I miss it? My twenty-something self told me that seventeen year old me had questionable musical taste, and was in need of new friends. Twenty-something me sent older me hunting in my CD collection to properly rediscover Altered Beast, and also gave me instructions to revisit In Reverse and Blue Sky On Mars.
I was officially a full-on Matthew Sweet freak, and what do you do when you have all of the Matthew Sweet albums a Matthew Sweet freak can possibly own? You start buying bootlegs. And that's how I wound up with Superdeformed - two silver-pressed bootleg CDs with better artwork than some major label releases.
Superdeformed collects 29 tracks worth of demos recorded by Sweet for Altered Beast. The demos merely scratch the surface of the many demos that Sweet recorded for his albums in the 90s from Girlfriend to 100% Fun. "Prolific" doesn't even begin to describe the amount of recording that Sweet was up to in the 90s.
Volume 2 is posted here for your enjoyment via the links below.
Matthew Sweet - Superdeformed volume two
Purchase Altered Beast from Amazon - CD or MP3
What It Is: A weekly mix tape posted on Mondays, created by the fans of Addicted to Vinyl, posted for all to enjoy!
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Addicted to Vinyl
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We've got some great submissions coming in so far, and I think I'll probably feature the first reader mix here next Monday. I made four more mixes this past week (I think I'm kinda sucked in here..) and thought that I'd share another one of mine here, before we dig into some reader stuff next week. For this particular mix, I made a playlist with particular cuts that caught my ear as they came up on my Ipod. Once I had a good playlist worth of tunes, I re-sequenced the running order slightly, and had myself a new mix.
Halfway To The Distant Sun (download)
1. Matthew Sweet - "Time Machine" - Last year's Sunshine Lies wasn't quite the album I was hoping for from Matthew Sweet, although it was good to finally see him live when he came around to the Beachland. I'm looking forward to the release of Under The Covers vol. 2 on July 21st, and I also had the chance to snag a cool vinyl EP set from the first Sweet/Hoffs disc, during a recent visit to Music Saves.
2. Fountains of Wayne - "Baby, I've Changed" - If you haven't said these words, chances are that you've thought 'em. The Fountains of Wayne compilation Out of State Plates is one of the greatest odds and sods compilations that you'll ever come across, and is essential stuff for the FOW fan. While you're at it, you'd do well to add their recent live DVD release to your collection as well!
3. Crowded House - "Distant Sun" - The Crowded House double live Farewell To The World CD set the alarm clock that woke up my long dormant love for Crowded House. I ended up re-buying the entire catalog of releases that I was lacking, during my recent Ann Arbor trip a couple of weeks back. "Distant Sun" is a song that oddly enough, comes off of the one Crowded House album that I kept through the years, Together Alone. I'm not sure how I missed it all of these years, but I heard it on Farewell, and it really struck a chord. I love the innocence of the lyrics, which can be appreciated by anyone that has spent any amount of time trying to figure out love.
Tell me all the things you would change
I don't pretend to know what you want
when you come around and spin my top
time and again, time and again
No fire where I lit my spark
I am not afraid of the dark
Where your words devour my heart
and put me to shame, put me to shame
I missed seeing Crowded House during their reunion tour in support of Time On Earth, and I'm excited to see that they are at work on a follow-up album. For anyone that is looking to find out what Crowded House is all about, you won't find a more perfect primer than Farewell To The World, which is everything that you need to know about Crowded House on two discs.
4. Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers - "Circus On The Moon" - From the Noisemakers Summer 2007 compilation that was distributed as a free download via BruceHornsby.Com a couple of years ago. I've been wishing for a Cleveland Noisemakers date for quite a few years now, and perhaps with a new album on the horizon from Bruce and the Noisemakers, we'll get it. The original studio version of this song can be had on Halcyon Days, which is in my opinion, a very underrated Bruce disc.
5. Blue Rodeo - "Blue House" - From the Blue Road acoustic live CD/DVD release. As a fan of the Jim Cuddy side of Blue Rodeo, sometimes the Greg Keelor sung numbers take a little while longer to work their way into my music lovin' heart. "Blue House" is a good example of one of those Blue Rodeo tunes that I didn't quite get, until I got the chance to see it a few times on stage as the band toured behind Small Miracles. Blue Road didn't look very compelling to me when I first saw the track listing, but after hearing it, I fell in love and the streak continues. The "streak" would be the complete catalog of Blue Rodeo releases - I've yet to meet one that I didn't like.
6. Survivor - "The One That Really Matters" - The story of my love for the Eye Of The Tiger album is best saved for another day, and another blog post. For now, I'll tell you how I first heard "The One That Really Matters." We were living in New Mexico, and I was browsing through the stacks of vinyl at the local flea market, when I came across a white label promo 45 of "The One That Really Matters." I liked the song title, and it was a song that I hadn't heard by a band that I knew that I liked. This particular 25 cent purchase opened the door to my eventual love for the Eye Of The Tiger album. I know it looks like I just told the story that I said I wasn't going to tell, but really, there is a whole 'nother story yet to be told.
7. Rick Springfield - "Alyson" - Don't laugh at me. Don't judge me. I've actually had a Springfield post brewing, and haven't had a chance to knock it out. I've always thought that this is one of the underrated songs in the Springfield catalog. And on a side note, I recently discovered that if you Twitter "just a little sexual tension, under the guise of love," a lyric from "Alyson," you too can lose followers. This one comes from the Living In Oz album.
8. Tom Petty - "One More Day, One More Night" - From the Echo disc, which is not one of my favorite discs from Petty. Sometimes those are the albums that have buried gems, and that was the case with "One More Day, One More Night" when it popped up on my Ipod.
9. Doobie Brothers - "South City Midnight Lady" - I was in a Borders a few years ago looking to pick up a Doobie Brothers greatest hits disc, to get a copy of "The Doctor." I grabbed Greatest Hits, and behind Greatest Hits was Doobie's Choice, a great companion to Greatest Hits, featuring a disc's worth of the necessary album tracks, as selected by the Doobies. I saw "Another Park, Another Sunday," which a co-worker at the radio station had introduced me to some time back, and knew that I had to take Doobie's Choice home with my Greatest Hits purchase. Doobie's Choice is one of my favorite albums to pull out when I'm in the mood to hear something good. And God knows, I've got plenty of choices to choose from in that category.
10. Sammy Hagar - "Halfway to Memphis" - This one caught my ear for the first time on Not 4 Sale, an album that came and went quickly when the label that put it out went belly-up shortly after release. Hagar gave this one a second life and reached a few more ears when he included it on Livin' It Up.
11. Bruce Springsteen - "Gypsy Biker" - I wasn't blown away with Springsteen's Magic release, but he sold me on it, as he so often does, when I saw several dates on the Magic tour. "Gypsy Biker" was a definite highlight of the Magic tunes featured in the setlist throughout the tour.
12. Eels - "Sweet Lil' Thing" - My love for E and the Eels has been briefly documented in various places on this site. blinking lights and other revelations was the great Eels album that I had been waiting to hear, after a couple of non-stellar efforts. Definitely looking forward to hearing the new album Hombre Lobo in June.
13. Liz Phair - "Rock Me" - Cleveland songwriter Nicholas Megalis and I were nerding out talking about everything from Kate Bush to The Kills to Liz Phair. He expressed his love for Exile (not bad, considering he's barely 20,) and I asked him if he had heard the later period stuff from Liz, which I enjoy as well. He had, and was a fan, and from there we talked about 10 to 20 more bands and singer/songwriters before we called an end to the nerd session. A few days later, this one came up on my Ipod, from the self-titled Liz Phair release.
14. Jenny Owen Youngs - "Secrets" - I'll end this mix with a new cut from what will be in my top 5 favorite albums of the year, without a doubt. Transmitter Failure is the brand new album from Jenny Owen Youngs, and it is just as fantastic as the initial single "Led To The Sea" indicated that it could be. Transmitter Failure will be available in stores on May 26th, and it is begging for your ears to give it a listen. I can't wait to see Jenny live here in Cleveland, hopefully soon! "Secrets" is the perfect song for anyone that's ever found themselves trapped in a relationship wracked with constant jealousy. Pre-order the new album here.
Here is a video for "Clean Break," another tune that you'll find on Transmitter Failure:
Enjoy the mix, and have a great week!