And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

A Music Journal Collective Effort

Friday, January 12, 2007

Matt Mays
When The Angels Make Contact
(released Dec.14/2006)
Reviewer: MM

Matt Mays - When The Angels Make Contact [2006/CD]

'The future fades, your minutes are few
When the angels make contact with you'

Thus rings the emblematic chorus of the title track of Matt Mays'
newest pet project/brainchild but before we get into the album in
question, it is important that we backpedal to gain a greater
perspective. After the release of Matt Mays & El Torpedo's self
titled debut, the struggle between indie rocker and national star status
was becoming quite evident for Mays. Even in a few songs on the
debut (namely 'On The Hood') it was clear that Matt was striving
to find the balance between a normal, fun-loving guy with a lot of
friends and a musician gaining national exposure and success. The
dilemma lingered and all of his fans, though optimistic about his
genuine spirit, knew full well that musicians don't always take the
path of genuity within the realm of music.

Well, it's just over a year and a bit later and a path has been chosen.

As if Matt Mays couldn't be cool enough - but NO, he had to go
and record an eighteen track monster of an album based on an
INDEPENDENT FILM he was making with his friends entitled
'When The Angels Make Contact' (you can read about it at that never got made due to budget! I guess it is clear that he has chosen a path.
Breaking new ground and moving away from his alt. rock/folk style,
Mays clearly shows that he is a pioneer of the Canadian music
scene and is not afraid to cut through new terrain. Though it is
being dubbed a solo project, most of his band (El Torpedo) makes
their way on to this record in one form or another. This long-time
side-project is also littered with guest appearances adding a
definite accent (even in the form of a guest rap appearance by
Buck 65, the Halifax native and long-time cronie of Mays' hometown)
and flair, taking this album far beyond the realm of ordinary.

It is almost as if the film for this soundtrack didn't even need to
be made as one gets an obvious sense of the tension and
character journeys involved in the storyline just from the music
and words. This can especially be seen in track 4 ('1 For The
Motor') which tells the tale of the main character of the film whose
journey begins when he finds a dead motorcyclist on the side
of the highway. The ex-police officer, seeing that the man has
obviously been deceased for some time, decides to take the
motorcycle for a bit of a joyride on a path of self-discovery
after having a long, hard life. The cryptic, naturalistic acoustic
guitar, accented with a heavily reverbed piano, paints the picture
for the crux of the main character in the chorus:'1 for the Motor /
2 for the cycle / 3 for the destination / 4 for the mornin' /
5 for the drive'.

The greatest thing about Mays' artistic genius is that even
though he is verging into new ambience and atmospheric
sounds on this disc, the core of his style remains true in his
songwriting. His inescapably distinct and raspy voice lets the
listener know they are still being led by the same guy from the
last album. The recording and production of this album alone
are a whole other issue which could be expounded upon in
encyclopedic fashion, I'm sure - suffice it to say that the overall
sound and feelof this album has an 'empty room/echoey' wash
that must have taken months to perfect. In all honesty, I wasn't
even sure I wanted to pick this album up when I saw it at the
record store. Don't get me wrong - I loved Matt's first two
works and made most of those songs permanent residents in my
head but I just had a bad feeling about his third major release.
The only downside to the album would be an excessive use of
audio clips between songs that put a little too much emphasis on
the non-existent film. There is also somewhat of a lag that happens
near the final tracks but honestly, it is nowhere near enough to
stop the listener from going back to track one to hear the story
all over again. Overall, though, I am definitely glad I nabbed this
one off the rack and one can only hope that the angels will continue
to make contact with Matt Mays and inspire him to release
monumental works of this nature. 9.5/10


Anonymous charn said...

oh yes oh yes
a good take on this album, strange entity that it is... I like how a lot of it is actually solo made, with mays playing even viola's for it... I also like the occasional foray out like the pink floyd the wall / stones miss you / cher's distorted voice on the super catchy and well produced midnight is the time... mays is wicked live too seeing him at new years... a lot of soul and good stage presence... he didn't play any of this album though being with el torpedo... i think the thing that stands out is he has heart with his albums and music, the self titled first disc was a lot of the same sort of stuff but each song had a distinct soul and that's what makes it a listen through disc... when the angels is no exception.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Susan Isaacs said...

Unrelated to this blog post... I wanted to say hello to Matt, and thanks for reading the Hitchens piece on Burnside writers. Good to connect, and glad you find your blog!

12:14 PM  
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