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Matthew Good – [Album]

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Saturday, 02 July 2011

The last few years have been both good and strange for Matt Good. Since the release of Avalanche in 2003, the singer's manner has seemed to cool off and become more reflective; no longer hissing about “turning shit into solid gold” through clenched teeth, Good has seemed to start looking outward, if only to catalogue the inequities the singer sees within himself and the desperate unhappiness in him has been reflected in his music. It has been a humbling experience both for Good and his audience but, if one looks at Good's career and its movements that way, Lights of Endangered Species is a climactic moment, of sorts. Here, there is resignation and resolution in sight of his lyric sheets, but set against tasteful, balanced and wildly unhappy music which implies that both are unattainable. In effect, Lights of Endangered Species is both smooth and lush and a bumpy ride all at once.

The pall that hangs over Lights of Endangered Species is plainly apparent from the moment “Extraordinary Fades” staggers out beleagueredly to open the record. As the piano which drives the song sounds off, there is no sensation there other than misery; the song's beat collapses with every bar and the singer doesn't seem far behind it as lines like “When I end, carry me through the streets of my youth/And something I was will sing from your mouth of proof.” Nothing about “Extraordinary Fades” welcomes listeners at all; it is only for the singer himself as he gives up the last of all he is – it is self-obsessed, self-pitying and self-indulgent all at once.

The going gets no easier and the clouds only get darker from there as songs like “How It Goes,” “In A Place Of Lesser Men” and “What If I Can't See The Stars Mildred?” play through. In each case, exhibits of the deepest depression are presented with a thick gloss of artifice as one might expect to see at a funeral, and with less than no hope in sight. Most every song here never treads below a dirge but, even when Good does pick up the tempo, the mood of Lights of Endangered Species gets no lighter, it's just another angle to approach depression; for instance, the horn section that accompanies “Zero Orchestra” closely resembles a Creole funeral march in its dainty despondency.

With all of those images in mind, fans are right to start worrying about Matt Good. Granted, the singer has never stood on the most solid emotional ground (even as early as Beautiful Midnight, the singer was teetering – and that was in 1999), but there has typically been more fight in him than there is here. On Lights of Endangered Species, Matthew Good seems to have accepted something into himself and the darkness from whatever it is has overcome him. Here's hoping it's all an act though, and the singer hasn't agreed to walk into the night.

Artist:

www.matthewgood.org/
www.myspace.com/themattgoodband
www.facebook.com/matthewgoodmusic
www.twitter.com/mattgood

Album:

Lights of Endangered Species
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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Matthew Good – [Album]

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Saturday, 17 January 2009

In the last couple of years, as bands like Broken Social Scene, Attack In Black, MSTRKRFT, Tokyo Police Club and Alexisonfire (among a ton of others) have won international attention and bands like The Constantines enjoy renewed interest, it’s almost as if the musical community in Canada simply appeared from nowhere in the minds of people outside the country. Granted, there’s no escaping the achievements and influence of artists like Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, but it’s as if any musical ground made by Canadian musicians in the interim decades never existed prior to the new toasts of the scene. However, the upside to the rest of the world finally catching up is that some of those woefully under-appreciated acts might finally get some notice.

That’s one of the things that makes Matt Good’s double disc live document so exciting, the other is that it functions as a stellar introduction for the unfamiliar. Recorded live at Massey Hall in Toronto on May 29, 2008, the set is actually the culmination of over a decade’s worth of work; presented before a capacity crowd at a historical venue, listeners are offered a one-of-a-kind set in which no hit is missed and each song is treated gently and with an urbane sophistication.

To say that Good knows exactly what he’s doing here and who he’s playing to is a tremendous understatement as he builds his dramatic set. Even as the dark pall of “Champions Of Nothing” rolls out to open the set, it’s easy to deduce the singer’s design here: he’s bidding for an elder statesman’s seat at the Can-rock dinner table with a satisfying and ample course. With the table already set, the singer proceeds to dole out a healthy portion of hits (“Hello Time Bomb,” “Load Me Up,” “99% Of Us Is Failure,” “Apparitions” and more) that bolster and elevate the stature of lesser-known songs (including “I’m A Window,” “Odette” and “A Single Explosion”) that are afforded the same regal treatment. There’s something in the singer’s desperate gasp into the mic here too—he’s deliberately not performing to the height of his ability at all here, but compensates with captivating raw emotion that draws listeners in and convinces them to experience his frayed mindset with each tremor of vocal vibrato and each bracing minor-key crash.

Of course, with such a delivery, it’d be easy to assume that the show is nothing more than an an enactment of a dead end, but it is Matt Good’s gift to make sadness elating that sets up the seething, begrudging performances of the songwriter’s more manic and uptempo material and the contrasting difference is something to behold. It’s a remarkably dramatic method of operation; as the vibes build ever darker and more dour, suddenly a song like “Hello Time Bomb” will strike out and hiss like a warning to beware. For the uninitiated, the effect is thrilling because, when that sudden snarl happens, it’s an exhilarating surprise that one doesn’t see coming. For those familiar with Matt Good, it will be no less of a thrill because Live At Massey Hall illustrates the fact that the singer has more tricks up his sleeve than just raw decibels and cynical wit; he’s able to coax a compelling and propulsive show out of the contrasts laced through his body of work and that revelation is what makes this album a must-hear for fans and could end up breaking him to an entirely new base.

Artist:

www.matthewgood.org

myspace.com/hospitalfacilities

 

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