John Matthias: Stories From the Watercooler (Counter)

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John Matthias: I Will Disappear
John Matthias: Stories From the Watercooler (Counter)

No one sang stuff like this at any watercooler of my acquaintance, but maybe that's because socio-political folktronica is hard to pull off without accompaniment -- and edgy violin solos just don't sound right when hummed.
Matthias is a mate of Radiohead's Thom Yorke and some have drawn a line between this album and Yorke's abrasive solo album The Eraser of a couple of years back.
I'm not convinced that's entirely appropriate -- Matthias is much more folk-pop and also isn't averse to a little early 80s techno-rock effects (the album is produced by Coldcut). What both share is a seriousness of purpose however and here Matthias offers songs such as Viper's Nest, Police Car, Blind Leading the Blind, Stockwell Road (about the police shooting of the suspect terrorist in a London Tube) and One Sunny Morning in the No-Fly Zone.
This can be uneasy listening (in King of a Small Town a suspicious -- if not paranoid -- local keeps a menacing eye on a big city interloper) and not always successful as he overplays his emotions in a couple of places.
The best are the uneasy, spare and emotionally flat ballads where their concerns are all the more chilling.
An acquired taste I suspect.

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wootwoo - Dec 12, 2009

John Matthias Website:
http://www.johnmatthias.com

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