June 20, 2006

Matt Nathanson: At The Point

One of the mini-reviews I submitted to the Westword was a few words about the new Matt Nathanson live album: At The Point (2006, Acrobat Records). Since they didn’t run it, lemme tell you what I wrote, since that is our topic for today.

“Until you’ve seen a Matt Nathanson concert, it’s impossible to understand how he could combine his melancholy, wrenching acoustic songs with an acidic sense of humor — and even the occasional Rick Springfield cover or Prince singalong. This live album captures those moments, and the setlist draws from several of his releases, providing a balanced introduction to this talented (and bitingly funny) young songwriter.”

I am getting more and more into him weekly, and find myself putting his music on random while I work every time I am near the computer. Here is a small sampling of tracks off the new album, but all of them are excellent & recommended.

I Saw – The line where he sings, “I still wake up burning through everything” always makes my throat tighten a little and my eyes burn — it took me a bit by surprise to react like that but for some reason the honesty in his voice on this line stings.

Romeo & Juliet (Dire Straits cover) – Matt says, “So, I’ve never played this song live, and I don’t know if it’s gonna work, but I was at a friend’s house last night in NYC and we were talking about great songs — and this is a great song.”

Answering Machine – The crowd always heartily sings along with this lovely melodic chorus. The lyrics are so biting for such a pretty song: “I met a new one and she looks just like you / She gives me everything that you didn’t want to / And maybe I don’t need saving after all / She sticks in my ribs almost better than you did.”

Straight to Hell (Drivin And Cryin cover) – Nathanson has a great ear for a good song, meaningful lyrics, a beautiful melody and the songs he covers (while sometimes done in jest) are often transformed into something more arresting than the original. I’ve never cared for Drivin and Cryin, but I do here.

I heartily recommend downloading this entire live album (on eMusic and iTunes) and, even more so, seeing Matt Nathanson when he comes through your town. You will not have more fun at a show this year.

I just noticed on his website that he is playing a free show this Thursday night (June 22) in downtown San Jose as part of the Music In The Other Park summer concert series. Can’t go wrong with free + Matt Nathanson. He rocks Cleveland on Saturday, and will be at Austin City Limits in September. (Now come back to Colorado!)

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  • Matt Nathanson’s music is great, but I don’t think I ever would have become the fan that I am if I hadn’t seen him live on a whim once. His personality is half of the appeal of his music. I have seen him several more times since and his humor and the fact that he is the NICEST GUY EVER keep me coming back again and again. I always try to catch him after shows because of how genuine of a person he is and how he is always willing to hang out and talk with fans. Everytime I leave his shows, my stomach is sore from all the laughing!

    Callie — June 20, 2006 @ 5:30 pm

  • Heather-thanks for the Matty Nay love. There can never be too much. He is an incredible musician, a fantastically hilarious comedian, and the nicest person you will ever meet in your entire life. I love him more than most family members. His new material, including “car crash”, will keep us on the edge of our seats for more from this incredible human being.

    Honey — June 20, 2006 @ 5:51 pm

  • Thanks for the post about Matt, Heather. He’s such a great talent, and now that he’s sans major label, any promo we fans can do for him is a big help. I may have to post about him again soon too, now that you’ve given me the bug.

    J — June 20, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

  • great call… i just bought this album a few weeks ago… first heard him from an archive concert… i love his song princess (with the “jessie’s girl” guitar riff)… ironically enough i just put his cd in my car on the drive to work this morning…
    i’d love to see him come out here to CO!

    kristen — June 21, 2006 @ 9:55 am

  • ive only ever listened to one nathanson album and i thought it was very bland. so thanks for sharing these to give me an opportunity for a second chance. downloading right now

    Wes — June 21, 2006 @ 10:26 am

  • Thanks for the introductions to Matt. The Driving and Crying cover fits his voice well. Of course I had to pull out Mystery road and hear Kinney sing the original. It was always a good one live.

    Nooshaji — June 21, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  • I’d have to disagree with the unabashed affection for Matt Nathanson that the previous comments and postings have shown.

    I saw him open up for Ben Kweller in Milwaukee last Fall. His music is fine and poppy. He said a few funny things, but he proved to be extremely arrogant and needy for attention.

    While Nathanson was in between songs, someone at the show shouted out, “Bring out Ben” in reference to the headlining Kweller. He quickly stopped whatever tangential monologue he had engaged in to quip, “Who said that? What asshole said that? Turn on the lights.” They turned up the lights on the audience. He pointed at the naysayer and said, “You know what, let’s play a game. Let’s play the shut the f-ck up game.”

    He went on to show his disgust. Later, he continued his music. It wasn’t funny or biting. Instead it just made him look childish. That’s all.

    Colin — June 24, 2006 @ 6:47 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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