Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Matthew Good- Avalanche/ Hospital Music

With Matthew Good's newest solo album, Vancouver, expected later in 2009, I thought I would start doing real reviews with what I thought were his two greatest solo efforts, 2003's Avalanche and 2007's Hospital Music. I will say right now that I was not a fan of White Light Rock And Roll Review.


Somehow Matthew Good started off his solo career with one of the best debut solo albums I have heard. His change in style in his solo efforts compared to the Matthew Good Band is significant, and yet at the same time should not leave Matthew Good Band fans disappointed, which is hard to do. Also one will notice he has a lot more social commentary across this album, but he doesn't use it too much or shove opinions in your face, so it does not bother me. I am also going to make a note on the album cover, which doesn't appear to be much, but I find the picture of him looking confused in an empty room paints a perfect picture for his solo career. Anyways, here goes.

Pledge Of Allegiance- The first thing I notice about this song, which is really just a tease to what is so apparent across the entire CD, is that the production value of this album is off the wall. Every sound used is perfectly selected to fit its specific purpose in the song. Next thing you will notice is that this IS NOT a rock album, it comes close at some points, but through and through it is a departure from his earlier rock albums. Next there is the introduction to several instruments that are not just guitar, drums, bass and the occasional piano, but he does not use them too much, which I find is the failure of a lot of rock artists gone solo. Anyways, this song is the perfect start to the album because it gives a nice overview of the new sound he is striving for. The church bells are damn cool too, I have never been able to fit church bells (although I have tried soo hard) without the decaying verb on it sounding off key, so he has my envy on that one.

Lullaby For The New World Order- This is one of my least favorite tracks on the album, which is extremely strange because when I first bought Avalanche it was one of my favorite. I find that the vocals seem a bit to scattered in the verses to properly lead into the epic-ness that is the chorus. Within the first ten seconds you will notice the down scale strings, and the drum fill leading up to when the drums actually come in does fit very nicely. I love the huge spacey atmosphere in the choruses, and the minutely distorted sounding guitar that starts around 2:25 is a very nice touch.

Weapon- This is the first single off the record that launched Mathew Good's solo career, and it is perfectly selected. The verses bring out a lot that is his new sound, very spacey sounding acoustic guitar and long drawn out vocal lines, but he brings it up a notch to a sound that is a bit more evolved then his bands work, but would find a lot of Matthew Good bands fans happy to see he has not changed too much. Yelling "never turn your back on it" right before the first chorus comes in sounds incredible.

In A World Called Catastrophe- This is the other single off of the album, and the instant full band with distorted guitar is influenced by his earlier work, but as soon as the vocals kick in you can hear he is bringing something new to the table. Also, the bridge between the verse and the chorus's when he says "Remember how we started, since then I'm a waste" with the solo acoustic guitar playing is very well placed. This is a damn good song.

Avalanche- One of my two favorite tracks off of the album, everything about this song is a complete departure from the Matthew Good Band, and its for the better. While this song does take a while to get into it, it is worth the patience. As soon as he starts yelling "Avalanche" with his full band backing him up you just know that the long intro relates and is worth it. The transition between the acoustic guitar and clean electric sound is incredible. The second verse is mostly just samples played in the background of eerie instrumentals, so don't be hoping for a sing along, but it continues the vibe of this song very well. Instead of breaking back into the chorus after, he throws you one of the best bridges his has. The simple repeating of chords on the acoustic guitar in the background and then the way the vocals match up with the electric guitar overtop of that is just unbelievable. When the drums comes back in it forms such a powerful vibe. He then cuts back into the chorus perfectly and rocks the house for the rest of the track, minus the last ten seconds when he repeats "one foot in front of the other", brings the song full circle and closes it perfectly.

21st Century Living- This song seems like it was written specifically for the lyrical content, like he was pissed off and just threw down some electronic sounding instrumentals to fit with what was on his mind. The back up singers are a very nice touch, and then the rock sounding chorus is nice, this song is nothing too special, but entertaining none the less.

While We Were Hunting Rabits- This is my other favourite track off of the album, and the vocals near the end are some of his best. I am a huge fan of the Timpani drum fills. I do find that most of this song is just average, but once it gets quieter at around 3:30 I think he shows some of the best vocals I have heard from him. The high pitched change up compared to the first verse is very powerful, but once he starts repeating "I'm Just A Boat On The Ocean, I'm Just A Ship Lost At Sea" it takes my breath away every single time. Especially when he comes in with the higher pitch louder version, and then the multi tracked version right after that, then the song cuts and he repeats it once more over a solo acoustic guitar. It ends perfectly..... except for the 2 minutes after that of just randomn sounds, I usually don't listen to that.

Bright End Of Nowhere- The song just sounds like it relates to you for some reason, and there is good lyrical content in it. The overdubbed reverbed electric guitar in the verses is very well done. The almost bassey sounding guitar in the chorus matches up with his voice very well, then the piano and string arrangement bringing it back into the verse is done well.

Near Fantastica- The song sounds like he got high and started to miss the Matthew Good Bands later work. The reverse guitar sounds in the verses is really well done, I usually find electronicly reversing guitar sounds usually makes it sound a bit off time, but it fits here. The drum sounds feel like they were picked out by Revrend Run, due to the hip hop sounding kick and snare, but the beat is still a standard rock set up. This song clocks out at 8 minutes, which I find is a bit too long due to I am not a huge fan of this track, deffinitly goes under the short list that is filler on this album.

Song For The Girl- Acoustic guitar verses, you can hear him trying to push his voice too new boundaries, and doing it well. I don't know how he made that synth sound not stupid, but somehow he did. There is not much to say about this song due to its so standard, but its still a very good listen.

Double Life- This is anouther song I find to be a bit of filler, I will listen to it if I have time for a full play through, but if I'm just driving around or something it always gets skipped over. This sounds like its a B-Side from The Audio Of Being.

A Long Way Down- I really like the piano in this one, its nothing too special, it just fits very well. This is a good song to end the album because it has nothing too do with his earlier career, and it seems to be hinting that he plans on consistently changing his style and putting out enjoyable but ever changing record. I was dissappointed by White Light Rock And Roll Review, which was released two years later, but when Hospital Music came out I feel as if he is in a very good place with his solo career.

Hospital Music

Champions Of Nothing- I find this to be one of the best intro songs on any album, certainly my favorite Matthew Good track, solo or otherwise. Clocking out at 9 minutes and 30 seconds it could throw off the occasional listener who just picked up the album because they liked the folk rock stylings of the first single, "born loser". Anyways, this track starts off with some vocal samples and a bit of minimalistic acoustic guitar strumming and a synth for about the first minute and a half, which CAN get kind of boring, but as soon as the vocals kick in it becomes one of my favorite tracks ever, this is deffinitly one that should have the whole thing sat through on several occasions, I find myself liking it more everytime I hear it.

A Single Explosion- You can hear his extreme departure from perfection to honesty in this track. He left the perfectly crafted multi tracked vocal lines and extreme over dubbing to find himself starting off this song with a single acoustic guitar and singing in such a way that it sounds like he wrote this song for no one but himself, mumbling along about his short comings, then half way through a full band comes in too drive this song home. Its a good one too.

Metal Airplanes- Another extremely honest sounding song by a man who seems that he would like people to start focusing more on what he is saying as oppose too the fact that his songs "rock". Just him and an acoustic guitar again, continuing with the general atmosphere of the album.

99% Of Us Are Failure- Starts off as a very down tempo electronic song, but the full band does come in for a nice mix of real and sythesised instruments. Another song, which I think this applies to the whole album, that is almost 100% based off of his vocals and what he is saying. While the instrumentals are still very good, I don't believe thats what you are going to focus on.

Born Losers- We have all heard this song by this point, it was on the radio every ten minutes back in 2007. This is his most accessable song on the album, having it as a catchy folk rock song. First single off of the album and was a good pick, this track is nothing but an easy way to get into this album. Its not my favorite that Hospital Music has to offer, but I do really really like the bridge.

Odette- This song sounds like he wrote the skeleton of it during at the same time as the rest of Hospital Music, but like it was recorded/ tracked during the Avalanche period. This is of course impossible, but it does hold this vibe for me, due to it still sounds like an extremely honest song, but has the extreme multi-tracking that was Avalanche. This is another one of the better tracks on the album, I love the slow sliding/ bending on the "lead" guitar during the intro, good stuff.

Black Helicopter- Another single off of the album, this song deals with Goods more political side lyrically, but the sweet thing about him is he won't shove his view in your face. I find a lot of political songs turn me off due to I just really disagree with the "facts" people are trying to make me conform too, but this is different and thank god because this song is really good. Another folk-ish rock song, it is another easy gateway into enjoying this album, and the chorus just takes me for an audio joy ride every time. I love it.

The Boy Come Home- Another track based off of the acoustic guitar, this one doesnt do that much for me. I mean, its not a badly done song by any means, it just does not really click with me, I do like the bridge though.

The Devils In Your Details- This song sounds like it was written during the same session as "In A World Called Catastrophe", though I am a bigger fan of this one. One of the few tracks based off NOT the acoustic guitar, I must say I do love the lead guitars riff at the start of this song. This song reminds me of the Matthew Good band, and its nice to know that he hasn't left his roots completely.

Moon Over Marin- The IDEA of Matthew Good making an acoustic cover of a Dead Kennedys song does not sound very appealing, but this track is incredible. One thing about the Dead Kennedys is that they were very good lyricists (for the most part anyways) and Matt Good took these lyrics and formed a heart warming ballad around it. For me this is usually the first song I flip to on this album, I would probably suggest this one to a new listener above any other tracks.

The Girl Wedged Under The Front Of A Firebird- This song is only a minute and a half and pissed me off every time. It is a string of samples and then the a really fucking cool intro to a song, but then it just STOPS as oppose too turning into something truely good, which it very easily could have. God damnit it makes me mad.

I'm Not Safer Then A Bank- Really cool sounding song, but is under a minute long and starts and ends way to quickly. This song makes me mad in the same way the previous one does.

I'm A Window- From start to finish this is a damn good song. Its catchy as hell, more rocky and upbeat then the rest of the album and a very good pick up from the last two songs that COULD have been awesome but just decided to suck. Special mention to the bridge and the drum lead ups/ palm muted guitar when leading back into the last chorus. Its fucking awesome.

She's In It For The Money- Deffinitly my least favorite track across the album, it just seems like it was rushed to me, especially when it comes to the vocals. I guess its worth at least one full listen, I mean, I see how other people would love this one. But it just really didn't do anything for me.

Truth Love Will Find You In The End- A Daniel Johnston cover, this 2 minute long closer seems to be the perfect close to an album such as hospital music. This song almost sounds lazy, but its extremely relaxed vibe seems like Matthew Good just picked up a guitar and played this song and that was the end of the recording session for it. One acoustic track. One vocal track, and a very calm and soothing ending to an unbelievable album.

I am freakin excited for Vancouver to come out, might make something on that when it does. Enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment