The Dead Leaves: Cities on the Sea (LIberation)

 |   |  <1 min read

The Dead Leaves: Harm
The Dead Leaves: Cities on the Sea (LIberation)

Three years ago with his name out front, Matt Joe Gow – formerly of Dunedin, longtime Australian resident – delivered the promising debut The Messenger which walked a line between alt.country and country-rock with some fine lyrics.

Here – his name subsumed into the band – there's a smart shift to a kind of alt.pop-rock. Songs like the quietly dramatic Ordinary Lot and the coiled menace and self-doubt of Harm have subtle hooks aplenty.

The names “Lloyd Cole” and “Grant Lee Phillips” will be mentioned in his hearing, in an affirmative way.

The arrangements are excellent, and guests Gin Wigmore (on the Cole-like ballad This Living) and Emma Louise (the excellent rocked out alt.country of Changing) add interesting but necessary colour.

Necessary because, over the long haul, Gow's flattened vocal delivery becomes too similar when some material (In My Surrender where the band jangle and push into widescreen power-pop, or on the bristling energy of Spare Parts) deserves more adrenalin or emotional wallop.

However he's pitch perfect on the cinematic and emotionally naked ballad If Anyone Asks, a real highpoint, and on the pop-country of Everybody's Lost Someone.

They also do a lovely job on Talking Heads' This Must Be the Place.

Not quite the direction that debut suggested, but the best is very persuasive.

Matt Joe Gow answers the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

One Man Bannister: Moth (Powertool)

One Man Bannister: Moth (Powertool)

Auckland singer-songwriter and sometime member of Don McGlashan's band Matthew Bannister made some of the most charming, slightly unnerving and genuinely lovely music with his Flying Nun bands... > Read more

Various Artists: Naga; New Music for Gamelan (Rattle)

Various Artists: Naga; New Music for Gamelan (Rattle)

Those of us lucky enough to have been to Java or Bali -- and who have ventured further than the beach or pool for cultural experiences -- will attest to the extraordinary sound of a gamelan... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Jeff Healey: Heal My Soul (Warners)

Jeff Healey: Heal My Soul (Warners)

Blind blues guitarist Healey – who died in 2008 – would have been 50 this year and these previously unreleased songs confirm he was in a class of his own (Mark Knopfler, George... > Read more

NEIL YOUNG; LONG MAY YOU RUN, THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY by DANIEL DURCHHOLZ and GARY GRAFF

NEIL YOUNG; LONG MAY YOU RUN, THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY by DANIEL DURCHHOLZ and GARY GRAFF

Neil Young has hardly been short on books covering just about every aspect of his life: there have been biographies, his dad wrote a book about their relationship,  there is the collection of... > Read more