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   Friday, June 11, 2004  
It's always nice to bring someone in from the cold. Many bands/artists populate the reallyrather hinterland, flattering to deceive with their indie-folk-poppery but falling just short in some respect or other. Philly-to-Brooklyn combo Matt Pond PA has long been one of these - great in theory, distinctly patchy in reality. Until now that is. Cutting straight to it, you really ought to get hold of album no.4, Emblems.
Here is the sound of a band reaching a new high, not doing anything radically different just hitting a terrifically consistent standard of felicitous popsmithing. These songs are all very well behaved. Nothing unexpected happens except that the quality never drops. The last track's a bit spacier than what's gone before but Emblems really has no crap bits. The verses sound just as good as the choruses with choice arrangements and bouyant production selling it all most effectively.
Most of these tunes bounce off a tight springy mesh of acoustic strumming embellished variously by cello, electric guitar and keys, all in just-so proportion. It's a clean 'n' tidy sound, indie but batting some big pop eyelids at the mainstream. Many more folks would enjoy this record than are probably ever likely to hear it but calling in the services of Andy Wallace (Nevermind, Grace, etc) seems like a pretty direct pitch for radio.
Like quite a few North American alt-rock acts of recent times, the MPPA sound has always had a touch of The Cure about it and it bounces straight out at you in the ace opener, KC. The Flaming Lips meets Wilco at their poppermost might sketch out Closest (Look out) while Lily Two, dropping the pace slightly, is another cracking tune with a particularly delicious bridge.
All but one of these tracks have definite endings. reallyrather has said it before but proper endings produce better songs. It happens too often to be mere coincidence. If you've bothered to think about how it ends, chances are you've thought more about how it gets there. The butcher, Grave's disease, Last song are all super-attractive slices of driving acoustic pop with '80s Brit undertones. A touch of slide guitar puts a shine on New Hampshire's reflective picking while the four-square Claire cranks up the amps and follows through with another tidy winner.
Pond's vocals have never sounded better and while the music's certainly been shaped to please, lyrically Emblems remains mildly elliptical and cliche-free. While it hardly breaks new ground Emblems does go around some vaguely familiar blocks in very appealing style indeed. Shearwater, Wilco, The Cure, the Lips, Ivy, New Order, Bright Eyes, etc, of any or all of these and more can dive in with abandon...
Matt Pond PA

Talking of Ivy, while Adam Schlesinger chases Stacey's Mom around the world, Andy & Dominique have hooked up with Gary Maurer of Hem, just releasing This is where we live under the guise of Paco. If you're curious try Lie mp3 | unfiltered records

'From the first bars of the gloriously upbeat and anthemic "I Met A Girl," it's clear the promise hinted at on their 1998 debut indie single "Death Car" has been fulfilled in spades with this pop gem of an album' - Ink19 just the latest to discover Wheat's Per second, per second, every second'...

Something of a collector's item up ahead: Sunday, September 12 at the Mean Fiddler in London...Matthew Sweet!

So, the label blurb reads thus: 'Combines the fragility of Elliott Smith, the humanity of Neutral Milk Hotel, the melodic sensibility of Matthew [it's that man again] Sweet, and the careworn metaphors of The Mendoza Line.' As if this blog didn't have enough music to listen to. It's called Snow Tires and it's new from Unbunny...
Unbunny | Hidden Agenda records

Come on Mr PR man, hit me with some more: 'Bold and understated, bombastic and intimate, tragic and triumphant, it's an 11 track tribute to instability as a virtue..full of uplifting songs of heartbreak, traditional pop from the future, country music from the city, and all other manner of oxymoronic perfection.' Rilo Kiley this time and we just can't wait can we kids...

...and if you can make it they've just been added to the Bright Eyes/Modest Mouse UK tour and will also be doing Glasto!

Bright Eyes' Lifted, or.. rather brilliantly sold over half a million copies, a fact presumably not entirely unconnected with Conor O. being able to set up another new label, Team Love. First out of the gate? Tilly & the Wall...
   posted by SMc at 6:26 AM |