MATT PLESS Perfects “Ashtray” with Re-Recording of ‘Tumbleweed’

JeanetteDMoses-MattPortraits-1

Baltimore, MD Folk-Punk Singer/Songwriter MATT PLESS has returned to his 2013 released masterpiece Tumbleweed with a re-recording of the acoustic 12 track LP. Invoking the lyrical brilliance of BOB DYLAN, the instrumental diversity of THE VIOLENT FEMMES, and the folkish undertones of FLOGGING MOLLY, Tumbleweed is an explosion of dynamic discordance, mixing driving, confrontational punk acoustic jams with gentle, canorous melodies. The opening track for the album, “Ashtray,” is the perfect introduction to this uniquely focused musician’s fusion of rock, Americana, and acoustic folk.

player

“’Ashtray’ came about because I smoked an ashtray-worth of cigarettes in the half hour that it took to write the song…I had been playing music full time for quite a while. I was tired of finding myself performing at shows that were as empty as my pockets and was frustrated at the state of my life, the world, and the indie art community. I had been listening to a lot of obscure music circulating in the punk scene and had stumbled across a song by another artist which included a lyric that said: “If I found God anywhere it would be by the tracks”. From there, inspiration threw me my own variation on the line that would open “Ashtray”: “Someone asked me if I found God, yes, I think we’ve met a couple times. But, I’m not sure if it was Him ’cause I can’t look Her in the eye” – Matt Pless

Cover Art for Tumbleweed

Track List:
1. Ashtray
2. Piggy Bank
3. My Crooked Ways
4. Mad Child’s Lament
5. What You Will
6. The Book of You and I
7. Portland
8. Talkin’ Information Blues
9. The Crayon Song
10. White Picket Fences
11. My Idea of Heaven
12. In the Past Tense

Stream / Download Tumbleweed Online:

SHARE | SPOTIFY | AMAZON | GOOGLE

Guitar string marionette 1

Combining elements of folk, punk, pop and roots rock, Matt Pless can lyrically turn a phrase with the best of them. He has been compared to some of the top songwriters of our time, including John Lennon, Paul Simon, John Prine, and Bob Dylan. Known for his engaging and thought-provoking, witty word labyrinths, Matt’s music spans topics from love and loss to social commentary to ethereal train-of-thought abstractions, and everything in between.

SHARE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

REVIEW: German rock legends The Scorpions release MTV Unplugged in Athens on Bluray, DVD, and CD

When it comes to making immaculately crafted acoustic sets that warrant repeated listens, MTV Unplugged has a nearly unparalleled track record. For a program and recording series that has spanned more than twenty years, and seen such a wide and disparate cast of talents, the show has become a cornerstone for acoustic sets. From Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, to Led Zepplin and Kiss, to LL Cool J and Jay-Z, one thing remains the same, and that is the consistency and standard they hold to the audio quality of all of their recordings.

On the latest release, Scorpions Unplugged In Athens, MTV has stayed true to their format and delivered another high quality performance from a group of musical legends. The release, a CD-DVD combo set, is set below the stars in a gorgeous open-air amphitheatre in Athens in front of a decent sized crowd Scorpions loyalists. The band has come dynamically well equipped and full bodied to this performance, appropriating 6 additional musicians, a full 8-piece string section accompaniment from the group Strings From Heaven, as well as special guest appearances from Morten Harket, Johannes Strate, CATHE, and Dimitra Kokkori. The sound is full and rich, the quality is exceptional, and most of all the music is on point, staying true to the spirit and energy the Scorpions have been conjuring since the early seventies.

All the huge classics are here in spades: “Rock You Like a Hurricane“, “No One Like You“, “Send Me an Angel“, “Still Loving You“, and “Wind of Change“. The instrumental arrangements are dynamic and robust, doing justice to the sound that brought these German rock legends international fame and recognition. Around every corner there are visually as well as audibly interesting details that make watching worth the price of admission. For instance, the finger picking insanity at the beginning of “Speedy’s Coming”, or any of the mid-set solos illustrating the guitar chops and expertise of a lifetime of performing.

As this Unplugged album comes on the heels of the worldwide Scorpions farewell tour, it seems these guys are alive and still kicking. While they’ve had a long touring history and become heavy metal icons, it seems fitting to see a group that have been together for the better part of forty years to step into a subtler arena and do an acoustic set. Although the boys have additionally confirmed after the farewell tour that they will not be breaking up, it seems that they might be ready to step back and take some time to reflect. Overall this is an entertaining set, albeit a bit relaxed and calmed down compared to the Scorpions early catalog. A must have for any die-hard Scorpions fan.

CD review SCORPIONS "MTV Unplugged - live in Athens"

Tracklist:

1. Sting in the tail

2. Can’t live without you

3. Pictured life

4. Speedy’s coming

5. Born to touch your feelings

6. The best is yet to come

7. Dancing with the moonlight

8. In trance

9. When you came into my life

10. Delicate dance

11. Love is the answer

12. Follow your heart

13. Send me an angel

14. Where the river flows

15. Passion rules the game

16. Rock you like a hurricane

17. Hit between the eyes

18. Rock’n’roll band

19. Blackout

20. Still loving you

21. Big city nights

22. Wind of change

23. No one like you

24. When the smoke is going down

25. Where the river flows

Everlast’s “The Life Acoustic”: Lazy and Uneventful

Everlast’s (real name: Erik Schrody) 1998 hit What It’s Like was so wildly popular that plenty of people who DIDN’T know what it was like still learned all the words before they realized that the song’s finger-pointing-but-non-judgmental lyrics were aimed at them. It was a prominent enough track to help him sell almost three million copies of the record, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, but can you name another single from this album? No? Neither can I? Before we get further, I want to remind you of the catchy, seemingly skillful composition of “What It’s Like.”

His most recent solo release, “The Life Acoustic” is, at least in sound, similar to his biggest hit, but starkly different from the myriad collaborations he’s been a part of. It takes his previously released but unknown solo tracks, strips them down, and lets his voice take center stage. Unfortunately, this is an album that feels like it’s trying and failing to be good enough for radio play on a rock station. There may even be a few tracks composed to head intentionally to adult contemporary purgatory. (All I can hear in Broken is Hootie and the Blowfish, but less vocally skilled.)

This is going to be a mostly critical review, so if you’re an Everlast fan, I’d recommend you take pause before continuing. Musically, this album feels stale, derivative and not carefully composed or completely thought through. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a seriously lack of competence that we’re only finally able to fully see in this record. After quite a few careful listens, I do not hear more than four or five chords in most of the songs, all of which begin with Everlast speaking the title of the tune into his microphone. Then the guitar comes in, followed soon after by keyboard or piano. I like simplicity in my music, but these tracks feel lazy to me, formulaic. It’s as if were rearranged and recomposed in a day and recorded in one take 24-hours later.

But worse is that Everlast’s recognizable, gritty, often almost-off-key vocals sound just as careless as the composition. He sings through most of the record. I found myself so distracted by how out of place his voice sounded, that I was sometimes able to forget there were even strings being strummed behind him. I heard pieces without a whole; genres being haphazardly thrown together into one song without consideration of the audience. (My Medicine is a good example of this.)

My last criticism here is that most of what this album conveys lyrically is adulthood, its underlying resentments, its unforgiving nature. The songs that Everlast chose to feature here are all about sort of resigning yourself to loneliness and responsibility, but doing so knowingly. Ultimately, though, I think I prefer him when he’s angry.

“The Life Acoustic” was released on August 27, 2013 on Martyr Inc. Records. It is available on iTunes here.

PromoImage