The Dead Leaves: Cities on the Sea (LIberation)

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.

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Bonnie Raitt: Slipstream (Proper)

Bonnie Raitt: Slipstream (Proper)

Everyone's favourite slide-playing redhead hasn't had an album since 2005, but from the opener here – a restlessly funky dump on proud snobs who Used to Rule the World – show she's... > Read more

Gemma Ray: Island Fire (Shock)

Gemma Ray: Island Fire (Shock)

At a time when many young bands and singers seem nostalgic for an Eighties pop they never knew, it's refreshing in a weird way this British singer -- here on her third album -- is prepared to trawl... > Read more

New Elsewhere

JIMMY PAGE by JIMMY PAGE

JIMMY PAGE by JIMMY PAGE

Ever since his death in 1970, there's been speculation as to what direction Jimi Hendrix might have gone in had he lived. For every opinion saying he'd have got into jazz fusion (maybe with... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: French for Rabbits

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: French for Rabbits

This is what we love to hear. We sent the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire to Brooke, John and Ben of French for Rabbits and when it came back Brooke had written in the e-mail: "It made made... > Read more