Thursday, April 9, 2015

Matthew Melton "Outside of Paradise" on Southpaw Records

I think it says something when the copy I ordered of Outside of Paradise on Southpaw Records comes a few days before the review copy they sent. I blindly order anything involving Matthew Melton. It's guaranteed to be good, starting back with Bare Wires there isn't anything I haven't worn out listening too. I'd go as far as to say anything that anything Matt puts out on his own label Fuzz City Records is worth picking up also. "Outside…" is a collection of his solo material from the past seven years picking up where Still Misunderstood left off. He's insanely prolific and it makes sense that the same energy of the garage, the forces of springy reverb and power chords would propel his creative momentum. The energy inherent in this style would of course translate into output and not just in his own recorded material but even in producing bands like Shannon and the Clams, Hunx and Adam Widener defining the sound of Oakland, CA.

The front cover art actually makes me think I've been taking him too seriously all along since he's resorted to cutting and pasting himself in the middle of the woods or on a raft in space. He's always been a bad ass, posing next to old bikes, exclusively wearing jeans and leather jackets never shaving that mustache but I didn't expect this obviously subversive side to spell it out. But then I think that's what sets this apart from Ty or Seth, it's that wink along with the attitude. It's not as bluesy or grimy sounding as either of those two and has always had one foot over the wall of '60s sound but it's got a sense of humor that maybe isn't so obvious.

Outside of Paradise seems to combine surf and sandy beach together with packs of motorcycles and echoes from late '60s girl groups like The Shirelles or The Angels. In 2015 the sound is full of nostalgia while being deliberately dirty and honest. Flipping ideas about love through the use of guitar tone and recorded fuzz. He's after tracks that are going to be exciting with roots in ultra familiar themes and a verse/chorus structure that's perfection like the title track. It's the tightest most concise songwriting, there isn't a note that overstays it's welcome. Every track is a unique burst of punk that's obviously in the same family but took completely different paths.

He's got an uncanny ability to turn a simple distorted melody into an amazing chorus. He's delivering the same blindingly syrupy punk as in Warm Soda, it's such a part of his DNA. It should be a joke he's so good at it, but you can't study this as intensely only to parody it. He takes the drum sounds on this record as serious as the spectrum of guitars from the brittle tin foil high hat tones and bass pounded into that pillowy cinder block. He's forever exploring distorted buzz and finding new variations his whole life, impressively changing that instrument every track. It's a garage-soul-punk record from a guy trapped in the single speaker mono am radio on the workbench out in the garage. It's a well oiled, elegant piece of circuitry that's classic and cool. It's not an expensive or rare model just a perfect solution to listening to two sides of perfection.

Get this from Southpaw Records.

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