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

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

After trying for the same late-career revival as Johnny Cash with producer Rick Rubin - to lesser commercial and critical success -- Diamond now delivers the album he has said he's always wanted to... > Read more

Freakwater: Scheherazade (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Freakwater: Scheherazade (Bloodshot/Southbound)

That looks like a pretty ordinary motel room on the cover, and in the first song -- a fiddle-dragged dark and disturbing piece entitled What the People Want -- is the story of a rural rape and then... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER MADELINE BOCARO remembers the unique quality of Klaus Nomi

GUEST WRITER MADELINE BOCARO remembers the unique quality of Klaus Nomi

The transitional period between decades is always highly charged with the excitement of things to come, and nostalgia for an era coming to an end. The Seventies had their final burst of... > Read more

BIG DADDY WILSON INTERVIEWED (2012): Blues sprechen here

BIG DADDY WILSON INTERVIEWED (2012): Blues sprechen here

Wilson Blount – aka Big Daddy Wilson – is certainly a bluesman with a point of difference. He may have been a Southern black kid and born in North Carolina, but he's honest enough to... > Read more