Categories
Music Education

An Introduction to Country: Three Artists to Get Started With

As you all may or may not know, I co-host a country, bluegrass, and folk show from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. While I’ve always been a folk guy, not so long ago I barely listened to either country or bluegrass.

The reason for this is that my introduction to country was through my parents, who mostly listened to commercial or stadium country: Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, etc. I think for many in my generation, this is unfortunately what we know country music to be.

Authenticity is what defines country music and these artists just do not come off as authentic through their music. However, a couple of years ago, I was introduced to Tyler Childers’ 2017 album “Purgatory”. It shocked me how authentic this record was, despite its popularity.

Since listening to that record, country has become one of my favorite genres. I have become a fan of so many excellent, true-to-their-core country artists that I want to share with those of you who might be interested in the genre but don’t know where to start.

These artists are all modern country artists (all started releasing music in 2010s) and they are also are quite popular. However, I think that these artists all show that great country music is still being made and provide a variety of different sounds within the genre.

Tyler Childers

Tyler Childers is a guitar player, singer and fiddler from Kentucky. Starting his career in 2011, Childers had his breakthrough release in 2017 with “Purgatory”, which was produced by Sturgill Simpson, another artist on this list.

I would recommend starting out with “Purgatory” if you want somewhere to get starter with Tyler Childers. After that, his first album, “Bottles and Bibles” is also good, but you could truly listen to anything by him after you check out “Purgatory”.

Colter Wall

Colter Wall known for his gruff, deep vocals and his guitar playing. From Saskatchewan, Canada, Wall released his first EP in 2015 after he left college. He has released five studio albums since then, the last one being released in 2020.

All of Colter Wall’s work is so solid, I don’t think there’s a stand-out album to listen to first. I’d check out his discography in the order which he released in, so you can see how his sound has developed over time.

Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson is a guitar player and singer from Kentucky. Starting his solo career in 2013, he released “High Top Mountain”, which is my favorite record by him. He has released seven albums since starting his solo career. His last album, “The Ballad of Dood & Juanita”, is a story album and another one of my favorites.

If you want a story about a gunfighter, then you should check out his latest album. However, if you just want some good country music, I’d start at the beginning of his discography. Simpson is another artist that you cannot go wrong with, all his music is consistently great.

Categories
Classic Album Review

Classic Album Review: “Geogaddi” by Boards of Canada (But Backwards)

In 2002, Boards of Canada became a part of the G.O.A.T conversation for electronic artists. Their work in the tail-end of the 90’s left them with loads of widespread critical acclaim. They already made one of the greatest electronic music albums there is. They didn’t have to do it again, but they chose to anyways.

You can read a hundred reviews for “Geogaddi”, but this is a track by track review for the entire album in reverse. The reversed instrumentation, as well as the numerous hidden messages littered throughout the album suggest that the album was meant to be heard in reverse, so I intend to hear it this way.

THE END

The thick waves on “Corsair” start the album by grazing the coastline of your mind, inviting you to wade into the foamy folds of dark nostalgia presented on this album. It’s an incredible opening track, walling you off from the outside world, leaving nothing but you and whatever you used to be.

What’s incredible is that the tracks on here unfold in similar ways to their straightforward counterparts. Throughout each song, sounds are added in a symmetrical pyramid rather than a slope. Many songs contain unique portions at the beginning and end with a common element connecting them, making them cohesive even when reversed.

The transition from “You Could Feel The Sky” to “Diving Station” is almost seamless, as the sudden sound of the rubber band stretching leaves behind faint industrial oscillations. A feeling of being stuck takes over, suppressed by forces mechanical or otherwise. There is a light somewhere up there, but you know you’ll never be able to reach it.

The serine bells on “Over The Horizon Radar” are another excellent highlight. It sounds exactly like closing your eyes in a garden, feeling the wind pass over your skin, and letting the last of the days sunlight touch you as the sun lowers behind the trees.

This track fades into a repeated message: “We love you all,” a message made unsettling by television static and vocal distortion before being followed up with a far more uncanny message: “If you go down in the woods today, you’d better not go alone.”

Danger looms over this album. Everyone has felt scared before, and Boards of Canada knows this.

“Alpha and Omega” opens with an incredible synth and static combination, slowly introducing flute patterns, while a bubbly beat rages on in the foreground. The static subsides, and is replaced by a sea of of synth harmonies.

The wind, flutes, and whispers of “Opening The Mouth,” suggest the presence of something otherworldly- something that wants you to know it’s watching, but means no harm. Maybe its just your imagination.

Each “mini” track woven into Geogaddi is a microcosm for the overall feeling that the album explores. Each one a new angle examining the intersection of innocence and evil, of curiosity and regret, of youth and what it leaves behind. Everything you need to know about Geogaddi is right there on the cover: the pure happiness of a child becoming kaleidoscopically refracted and tinged until it’s something cold, sterile, and geometric.

“In The Annex” is a good example of this. It doesn’t need to be played forward for this to be conveyed either. It’s all in the music. It’s terrifying.

The main weakness of “Geogaddi” as a reversed album is the percussive elements. Every drum melts into a squashy squibble, losing entrancement along the way. The drums should be grimy and grainy. This is noticeable on tracks like “Dawn Chorus”, “Alpha And Omega,” and especially “Julie And Candy,” which has one of the strongest openings of any reversed track until the drums enter the mix.

There are also vocal sections that don’t work well backwards, like the “Energy Warning” segment that becomes unintelligible garble. It doesn’t help that it’s followed up by the most vocal intensive track on the album, “1969.”

In one case though, the backwards drums and vocals did make for an interesting addition. The track “Sunshine Recorder” has a slightly off-kilter rhythm when played forward, but backwards it’s even more bizarre. When this comes together with “ecalp lufituaeb A,” you can stand on the sky and watch the cars pass by on the road above you. Walking along the clouds brings you to “Dandelion,” a beautiful piece on the synth.

You were meant to hear “Dandelion” backwards.

The penultimate track “Music Is Math” slowly unfurls and furls its bright electric coat before concluding with “Ready Let’s Go,” a track that functions far better as a starting track than an ending track. We’re left with a single snuffed out buzz.

THE BEGINNING

Is it as good as “Geogaddi” forwards? No. There’s a reason they didn’t release it this way. Does it still convey the same abstract feelings as “Geogaddi” forwards? Absolutely, and how many albums can claim the same?

Categories
Miscellaneous

Holiday Season: Locally Owned Stores

As the holiday season quickly approaches, for many it’s time to start thinking about gathering gifts and presents for friends and loved ones.

As a little background, I grew up in Cary, NC and my parents have been living in Cary since the early nineties.

The Triangle Area has gone through a ton of changes in the last few decades. This includes an increased population, more housing developments, tech industries entering the area and more stores.

The rise of online shopping has also severely increased.

These developments have in many ways overshadowed and threatened the existence of locally owned small businesses throughout the area.

If you are looking for some great locally owned stores, I have highlighted some of my favorites in the Raliegh and Cary area. Hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Unlikely Professionals / Edge of Urge

Location: 212 E Franklin St, Raleigh, NC 27604 

If you are looking for gifts that are unique, modern and well made– this duo is perfect when shopping for that person you are unsure what they would like. These stores truly have something for everyone.

This family-owned business has a wide collection of clothing, jewelry, beauty products and oddities. In Unlikely Professionals they also make a collection of handmade leather goods.

They are located right across the street from one another, and their collections complement each other beautifully.

Not to mention, the stores are absolutely stunning. Great decor and friendly staff make the shopping experience that much more enjoyable.

They also have a great online store where you can look at their products in the comfort of your own home.

So & So Books

Location: 719 N Person St, Raleigh, NC 27604

Located right next to the Unlikely Professionals, this lovely little bookstore is a great place for some peaceful reading and shopping.

Airy and open, this store is a breath of fresh air in the shopping experience.

Although it has a relatively small collection of books in-store it has a great range of genres including fantasy, cookbooks, children’s books and poetry.

City Garden Design

Location: 117 W Chatham St, Cary, NC 27511

Nestled in the heart of downtown Cary this plant shop has a great assortment of greenery, pots and accessories for indoor house plants.

I have yet to find a plant shop that is as beautiful and diverse as this one. They have a great selection of plants, from airplants to succulents to large leafy plants.

The other element I love about this shop is that all the plants are very healthy.

A brief disclaimer, I do not have the biggest green thumb. However, I have brought many different types of plants from this shop and all of them have been healthy, happy and have survived for years.

Sometimes you can buy plants that are unknowing already dying and have been mistreated, but that is not the case at this shop.

The shop is run by a mother and son duo– the son has a degree in Horitculture from the University of Georgia. It is clear upon entering this store that the owners deeply care about growing great plants and sharing their passion.

Cary Gallery of Artists

Location: 200 S Academy St, Cary, NC 27511

Also located in downtown Cary, this gallery space is a great opportunity to admire and purchase locally made art and crafts.

Every time I go here, I have been greeted by the sweetest staff. It is a pleasant experience to look at the galleries even if you are not looking to purchase.

They support and showcase dozens of local artists; this shop is yet another unique experience.

Science Safari

Location: 1255 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary, NC 27511 

Last but certainly not least, has been one of my favorite shops as a kid. This toy story and science education center has been in Cary for decades.

Defined by their friendly staff, science classes and unique toys, this shop is great for finding gifts for the younger relatives and siblings.

They also have live animals in store, including an iguana, chinchilla, turtles, frogs and fish. This shop is extremely unique.

They also offer free giftwrapping and offer personalized shopping closer to the holiday season.

Categories
Weekly Charts

Chainsaw Charts 11/22

#ArtistRecordLabel
1FELETHDivine BlightRob Mules
2OBITUARY“The Wrong Time” [Single]Relapse
3ABBEY, THE“A Thousand Dead Witches” [Single]Season Of Mist
4SHOW ME THE BODYTrouble The WaterLoma Vista/Concord
5LAMB OF GODOmensEpic
6ALIENATOR“Blood Red Blood” [Single]Self-Released
7STORMRULERSacred Rites & Black MagickNapalm
8CABAL“Exsaguination” [Single]Nuclear Blast
9SUNAMI“2022 Promotional Tape” [Single]DAZE
10BOUNDARIESBurying Brightness3DOT

Chainsaw Adds

#ArtistRecordLabel
1LORNA SHOREPain RemainsCentury Media
2SCATTERED STORMIn This Dying Sun [EP]Blood Blast
Categories
Weekly Charts

Underground Charts 11/22

#ArtistRecordLabel
1PERRY MAYSUNPainting Naked [EP]Self-Released
2THE BLACKHEARTSHorn of the LambSelf-Released
3CITIES AVIVWorking title for the album secret waterD.O.T.
4TOMMY RICHMANAlligatorBoom
5AKAI SOLOSpirit RoamingBackwoodz
6ERNESTO BIRMINGHAMAt a Catalyst [EP]Self-Released
7SEFUHow to CryGAZO
8SAEKYIAngels dont call meTwo Faced
9BILLY WOODSChurchBackwoodz Studioz
10SHY HIGHHOGWASH [EP]MUSH

Underground Adds

#ArtistRecordLabel
1CITIES AVIVWorking title for the album secret waterD.O.T.
2THE BLACKHEARTSHorn of the LambSelf-Released
3SEFUHow to CryGAZO
4SHY HIGHHOGWASH [EP]MUSH
Categories
Weekly Charts

Top Charts 11/22

#ArtistRecordLabel
1KNIFEPLAYAnimal DrowningTopshelf
2ALEX GGod Save The AnimalsDomino
3ANZ“Inna Circle” [Single]Ninja Tune
4CADENCE WEAPONParallel WorldMNRK
5CARRTOONSHOMEGROWNWichita
6CONWAY THE MACHINEGod Don’t Make MistakesShady/Interscope
7DIFFERENT JANERoomsSelf-Released
8DIFFERENT JANE“Let’s Get A Drink” (Clean Radio Edit) [Single]Self-Released
9IDK“Taco” [Single]Warner
10JEAN DAWSONCHAOS NOWHandwritten
11JIMMY EDGARLIQUIDS HEAVENInnovative Leisure
12JPEGMAFIAOffline! [EP]Peggy
13KHI INFINITE“Missed Calls” [Single]Artist Partner Group
14LANCEDAYUNGIN“Slide” [Single]Trap Illustrated
15LIDI.“Recklessly” [Single]Westwood
16LUCY DACUSSpotify Singles [EP]Matador
17MAC IRVExcuse My FrenchPilot Life Entertainment
18MAMALARKYPocket FantasyFire Talk
19PARANNOUL AND ASIAN GLOWParaglow [EP]Poclands
20PRETTY SICKMakes Me Sick Makes Me SmileDirty Hit
21SKULLCRUSHERQuiet The RoomSecretly Canadian/Secretly Group
22SOFIE ROYERHarlequinStones Throw
23STELLA DONNELLYFloodSecretly Canadian/Secretly Group
24SURF CURSEMagic HourAtlantic
25BLACK ANGELS, THEWilderness Of MirrorsPartisan
26TRACY LAMONTTracy Lamont – EPPHC
27VEGYNDon’t Follow Me Because I’m Lost TooPLZ Make It Ruins
28VINCE STAPLESRamona Park Broke My HeartBlacksmith/Motown
29PARK HYE JIN“Y DONT U” feat. Clams Casino & Take A Daytrip [Single]Ninja Tune
30070 SHAKEYou Can’t Kill MeG.O.O.D./Def Jam

Daytime Adds

#ArtistRecordLabel
1LUCY DACUSSpotify Singles [EP]Matador
2STELLA DONNELLYFloodSecretly Canadian/Secretly Group
3DIFFERENT JANERoomsSelf-Released
4PALMNicks And GrazesSaddle Creek
5DE LUXDo You Need A Release?Innovative Leisure
6ALICIA CLARAVelveteen [EP]Hot Tramp
Categories
Concert Review

Chai and Hippo Campus at the Ritz

By: Leksie Fetrow

Hippos on campus? The probability is low, but never zero. Though it may not have been directly here on NC State’s campus, Hippo Campus and CHAI performed nearby at The Ritz, a venue I have become increasingly familiar with during my time here in Raleigh, on Friday, Oct. 21.

I was fortunate enough to receive a photo pass to this show, and ended up with photos (both digital and film) that I am very excited to share from both artists’ sets, and want to give a huge thanks to the awesome staff at The Ritz for this.

Hippo Campus is an indie rock band from St. Paul, Minnesota, comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Jake Luppen, bassist Zach Sutton, lead guitarist Nathan Stocker, drummer Whistler Allen, and trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson.

CHAI, composed of members Yuuki, Yuna, and twin sisters Mana and Kana, opened the show up with nothing short of an incredible performance, coming on stage in crochet cat balaclavas for their song “No More Cake”. The members of the group alternated between choreography, live mixing, and playing various instruments throughout the show, bringing an astounding amount of energy to the venue.

The Japanese electro-pop group’s stage presence was so entrancing I very nearly forgot I was there for photographs for a moment. Their set was primarily made up of songs off of their latest album, “WINK”, including “ACTION”, which is one of my favorite songs by the group! I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of their set, and believe if you get a chance you should check them out. CHAI has a very unique style of music, and I felt that their opening of the show set up a nice contrast for Hippo Campus to follow up to.

I will admit prior to continuing about headliners Hippo Campus that I have not personally listened to their new album, so I was unsure of what to expect from their portion of the show. Another photographer there had also told me that in previous years, their sets were near impossible to shoot due to the low lighting, so I was also admittedly a little worried at first from a photography standpoint.

However, I was very pleasantly surprised by their high contrast lighting and the well executed set design. Considering that I also have not listened to them since high school, I found their newer songs much more mature in the afterglow of their prior soft boy-centric indie era. Despite this, they gave a wonderfully pleasant performance and a part of my 15 year-old self was certainly satisfied with seeing them live. 

Their live vocals were impressive, sounding virtually the same as their recordings (Jake Luppen has indeed been eating CDs for breakfast!!), and the incorporation of brass instruments was a touch that I always love to see in live shows. As this show was rescheduled from a previous date as a part of their tour promoting their newest album, “LP3”, their setlist was primarily made up of these new releases, such as “2 Young 2 Die” and “Semipro.”

Though I spent a vast majority of the show running around The Ritz like a chicken with my head cut off to find angles and swap out rolls of film, I had an absolutely awesome time at this show, and it was definitely fun to take a step back and observe the flow of the crowd and the band from an exterior perspective as a photographer.

Photo taken by Leksie Fetrow.

And once again, I just want to give a major shout out to the wonderful staff of The Ritz for providing this opportunity to shoot some sick pics for WKNC (we love y’all, sorry for nearly missing my cue to leave the front of barricade I got a little too invested in the flix).

Categories
Blog Concert Review

Origami Angel, Pool Kids & Insignificant Other Concert Review

Tuesday, Nov.15 these Origami Angel, Pool Kids and Insignificant Other performed at The Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC.

To briefly summarize: these three performances had drastically different personalities that evoked drastically different audience responses. It had some very high and very low moments.

I’ll be taking a dive into my experience at this show, focusing on the first impressions of each band, their overall stage presence and the quality of their music.

If you are interested in learning more about each band and their discography, WKNC also posted a concert preview blog. You can find the concert preview on our blog.

Insignificant Other

Insignificant Other performance, taken by author

Insignificant Other was a sufficient start to this concert but had some awkward moments that took away from their performance.

Unfortunately, this band felt a little disconnected live. Although this does not directly impact the sound of their music, each of the band member had very different energy during their performance.

To give some context, their van broke down a few days prior to this performance, which threatened their continuation of the tour and required many costly repairs and setbacks. The band was obviously in a poor mood.

However, this issue was brought up in their performance multiple times. One of the members going as far as saying, “please show us some love at the merch table, I don’t want to beg, but we are broke.”

It is extremely unfortunate that they had such a big issue mid-tour, but they allowed this issue to impact their performance greatly. It would have been more beneficial for them to bring it up once, then put on a killer performance despite the circumstances.

Personally, it’s not your comments that will move me to buy your merch– it’s the music.

The van was brought up so many times that I hardly remember what their performance was like– their complaints were at the forefront of my mind.

I want to acknowledge how difficult it must be to be an opener. The audience is not warmed up yet and the energy is low.

However, the best opening performances I have seen have been the bands that are unapologetically high energy and excited to share their music (bands like Similar Kind and Nordista Freeze).

Insignificant Other took a different route, begging for the audience to dance and overall coming off as insecure. I was hoping to see more confidence from them.

I hope in the rest of their tour they are able to cast aside their worries and put on a great show. They certainly have the skill and the discography to do so.

Pool Kids

Pool Kid’s Performance, taken by author

Pool Kids were my favorite performance of the night. They did a phenomenal job, and their performance brought a newfound admiration to their music.

I could clearly see how much this band loved working together. They glowed on the stage and had a contagious confidence to them. There were so many moments when the members would share the biggest smile with each other.

The friendship and talent on the stage was a joy to watch.

Beyond their great chemistry, they make some outstanding music. I was unfamiliar with some of their newest songs, but despite not listening to them prior, they won me over on first listen.

They provided some great moments for moshing and dancing, but also had some great moments of stillness. Overall, just a tremendously talented and well-rounded performance.

Origami Angel

Origami Angel performance, taken by author

I had some pretty high expectations from headliner, Origami Angel; and their performance was nothing short of outstanding. This emo-rock performance has so much skill packed within the two members.

This tour has been their first headlining tour, yet they had such a mature and refined sound. Their performance alluded to a band that had been on many, many headlining tours.

The Audience

Why where they not my favorite performance of the night? The audience.

Unfortunately, their fan base in this concert dampened my experience greatly. It could be due to the fact that they are a relatively new band, emerging in 2017 or it could be their angsty lyrics or pop culture references– their audience was extremely immature.

I have mentioned this in previous blog posts, but the audience is always the worst part of any performance. This audience was by far the worst I have ever experienced.

The moshing and crowd surfing was completely unhinged. Multiple people near me had gotten injured and unwilling individuals would get sucked into the chaos.

Certain individuals abused the chaos. There were two people in particular that jumped on stage and crowd surfed 8-10 times each. These individuals greatly took away from the performance by jumping on stage so frequently.

All to say, there were some poor audience members, and their behavior directly impacted the performers.

It was clear lead singer and guitarist, Ryland Heagy, got increasingly upset throughout the performance due to the shear amount of heckling and chaos on the stage. Not just in the crowd– on the stage.

It was really unfortunate to have such outstanding musicians get upstaged by such inconsiderate audience members.

I cannot stress it enough– Ryland Heagy and drummer Pat Doherty are outstanding live. I am looking forward to the opportunity to see Origami Angel again, hopefully with a more considerate audience.

Categories
Concert Review

Second Annual Psychic Hotline Block Party brought local & national artists together at Cat’s Cradle 

On Saturday, October 15, I saw Lambchop, an alternative country band on Merge Records, at the Psychic Hotline Block Party at the Cat’s Cradle and it was one of my favorite live performances I have seen in the last year. The lineup was stacked with local legends like Truth Club, Indigo De Souza who played a DJ set, Loamlands, and many national artists like Hand Habits, Bartees Strange, AROOJ AFTAB, and more.

This was the second Psychic Hotline Block Party, named after and organized by the record label created and operated by Durham’s very own Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso. It was an all-day event at the Cat’s cradle with performances inside the main room, backroom, and outside on the lawn and there was a pop-up shop inside the Arts Center. 

Lambchop closed out the Block Party in the backroom of the Cat’s Cradle. The last time I saw Lambchop, and the first time, was at Merge 30, a festival at the Cat’s Cradle celebrating the legendary North Carolina record label, Merge Record’s 30th Birthday. There the band performed as what seemed like a 20-piece to me, but there may have been seven or eight people on stage (this was in 2019 so my memory of it isn’t super clear). 

The band has a very unique sound that is unlike any other. They are able to combine opposite music styles of chamber pop, alt-country, Americana, and slowcore to create surreal sounds that filled the room. Lambchop is made up of rotating members, centered around frontman Kurt Wagner.

Their performance at Psychic Hotline was special as Wagner and Andrew Broder performed as a duo. Lambchop has never had a “core” lineup in the band, it consists of a large and ever-evolving collective of musicians including Matthew McCaughn, William Tyler, and James McNew. 

Wagner stood center stage surrounded by darkness, with Broder on the piano to his left. The duo performed many songs from their latest album, “The Bible,” which was released on September 30, 2022, on Merge Records. Before this performance, I had not listened to the album yet, but the minute the performance started I was immediately entranced by Wagner. 

The duo opened their set with “His Song is Sung,” the opening track on the new record.​​ The song was heartbreaking as Wagner sang about a visit he had with his father before he passed. I can still hear his voice echoing “no one’s edgier than I” at the end of the song.

Each song flowed effortlessly into one another, Wagner barely taking a break to catch his breath or speak to the audience. The whole audience did not take their eyes off Wagner, the room was silent, there were only a few phones out here and there taking videos, and nobody left their place in front of the stage. 

Towards the middle of the set, with my eyes locked on Wagner, shakily signing the lyrics to “Daisy,” I felt tears running down my face. Maybe it was because I only got two hours of sleep the night before, or maybe it was because I had never seen somebody be so vulnerable on stage as I saw Wagner being, but it was probably a mixture of both.  

One of the most spectacular aspects of the set was the way Wagner made his voice fill up every empty void in the venue. Not one line he sang fell flat, each word was filled with such intense emotion as it moved through the room.

Usually, when I see shows I feel like all of the energy is on the stage being shared between the members, but here I felt like the piano was swirling around me and Wagner was reaching his hand out to me and signing the words directly to me. The music felt like it moved throughout the room like a gust of wind or a distant memory passing through your mind. 

The set also consisted of new songs “A Major Minor Drag” and “That’s Music” and older tunes like “The New Cobweb Summer” from the album “Is a Woman” and “Give It,” a song that isn’t on any of their albums but has a famed indie classic, live video from their performance of it at Merge Records 20th anniversary festival. They closed their set with a fun cover of a song titled “Listening (to Lambchop by myself again)” by Sun June. 

I hope Psychic Hotline continues to put on annual Block Parties celebrating local musicians, artists on their label, and artists they look up to.

I feel very fortunate that North Carolina has such a rich music scene that artists, like Sylvan Esso, can get involved in and start a record label and host shows showcasing unique musicians and artists. 

Categories
New Album Review

“SEE YOU THERE” by Matt Watson Album Review

Matt Watson, 1/2 of the comedy duo Supermega, released his debut album “SEE YOU THERE” on November 7. The California-based musician has been working on this album for over two years and it has finally come to fruition.

Having been a huge fan of Supermega since 2016, I was pleasantly surprised by Matt’s first venture into the music scene with his EP “OUCH!” in 2020. This new album builds on the bedroom pop sound he established in that EP and embellishes it with elements of rap, dream pop and full-blown pop.

Since I am such a fan of Matt outside of his music ventures, my opinion of this album might be slightly skewed. However, it is clear that there was immense care put into this album, it comes off as a truly personal effort by Matt.

SEE YOU THERE

This album starts off incredibly strong with “STARSTUD”. Featuring Sarah Bonito, this song is an incredibly catchy pop jam that was stuck in my head for weeks after its release as a single. The addition of Sarah to the song makes this track a highlight on the album and the one I find myself coming back to most often.

Matt’s vocals work extremely well with dream pop songs. He dipped his toe into the genre with a cover of “Space Song” by Beach House earlier this year, which he put an excellent flair on. He steps further into the genre on this album, with “CORAL”. The echoey instrumental combined with Matt’s dissonant vocals and lyrics make it another highlight on the album.

Matt Watson, “STARSTUD” music videp

Many of Matt’s friends in the music industry, such as Kill Bill: The Rapper, Rav, and Ben Beal are pioneers in the lo-fi hip-hop genre. Matt takes clear inspiration from them while rapping, and there is no exception in this album.

“Ring Pop” featuring Father is the only song that is entirely rap and while a good track, I felt didn’t fit very cohesively with the rest of the album. I would definitely be interested to hear a full EP or album with Matt exploring this genre.

Many of the tracks on this album are in the same vein as the tracks on “OUCH!”. Songs like “WACKY”, “Aquarium”, “Work It Out” and “STUPID” are all very bedroom-poppy but feel more like full songs than the tracks on “OUCH!” did. It is clear that Matt has truly come into his own sound with these songs.

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed “SEE YOU THERE”. Matt has begun to flesh out his sound fully and I look forward to seeing it develop further. The highlights of this album are the explorations of different genres and sounds that I hope to hear more of in Matt’s next release.

Matt Watson is touring right now on the West Coast. If you are out West, you can find tickets on his website.