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 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 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

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wilco; Wilco (the album): (Warners)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wilco; Wilco (the album): (Warners)

While no one would suggest that Wilco's Jeff Tweedy is on happy pills -- the glum Country Disappeared and Bull Black Nova here would deny that -- he is clearly a very different man than he was... > Read more

Kingston: Black and Bloom (Aeroplane)

Kingston: Black and Bloom (Aeroplane)

If you don't listen to ads you'd not know these locals with cloud-piercing shouty choruses have songs helping sell V, Pepsi, KFC and a Ford Kuga. Both those latter hook-filled heavyweights... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Listening 149 #1

1]   2]   3]   4]   5]   6]   7]   8] 9] 10]   > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Elvis Presley; Original Classic Albums

THE BARGAIN BUY: Elvis Presley; Original Classic Albums

There is never any shortage of Elvis Presley reissues but for true fans those exceptional box sets on The Complete 50's Masters and Complete 60's Master are cornerstone releases and a trove of... > Read more