Matthew Good came roaring out of the Canadian underground in 1995 upon the release of the minorly successful Last of the Ghetto Astronauts
. He had a few hit singles, even took a minor tour around North America. But eventually, he released the massive single Apparitions
, which combined solemn acoustic music that remains reminiscent of Ghetto Astronauts
and a hard rock edge that would echo throughout the rest of the Matthew Good Band's discography. The album that followed was the successful Underdogs
which ranks among Matt's most average material, but considering his amazing discography that includes the brilliant Beautiful Midnight
, mediocrity is not an issue. It's still a great album.
Matthew Good Band - Underdogs (1997)
Matthew Good: Vocals, Guitars and Keys
Dave Genn: Keys and Guitars
Rich Priske: Bass
Ian Browne: Drums and Percussion
The ferocity of this album is not to be under-estimated. There are songs that can tear your head off, but Matthew Good and co. manage to add a slight touch of heartfelt songwriting to the aggressiveness and brawn. Brains are a major aspect to this album, and considering this is still the mid-nineties, they come out in less-than-brilliant doses scattered across the album. On songs like Strangest One of All
, the band accepts the fact that the song isn't very amazing at all, and tries to make the best of it by adding choppy and minimal solos, and while the vocal performance has an arena-rock aspect to it, it's minimal in the sense of the fact that the music doesn't fit it that much. The group were meant for amazing slow songs, not fast showoffy stuff. This is a recurring issue: Unfortunately, songs that boast heavy distortion can fall short of listenable for he sole reason that the group really give what's un-listenable in blunt rock a run for it's money. It's quite embarrassing when you put these songs up to heavier songs that bring up the beauty and grace of the acoustic ballads. Rico
sports a Radiohead
Bends era bass riff and a very passionate vocal performance from good, and while this song has a classic rock feel to it, the band pulls off an upbeat song with a simple message - "F*** off!", which is repeated several times in the verses. A very catchy chorus compliments the catchy feel of the song. Eventually, if the catchiness wears off, then you can see that there is little underneath but a few chords and some mumbled singing, but thank god for catchiness!
Regardless of catchiness and un-intelligent arena rock, this album sports the kind of rock music that legends (Matthew Good, for one) are made of. The opening corker Deep Six
is about as tough as a tooth, with it's ferocious riffs and Matt's growl-to-shout vocals. The overall gloom and doom feel of the song gives it it's hard rock edge, but while the blunt-ness of it is enjoyable, the songwriting gives it an intelligent edge, especially when the chorus rolls around featuring no more than three chords and a sharp lead riff, as well as a passionate Good screaming "I don't know!!". Look Happy, it's the End of the World
is almost better, and if not it's tied with Deep Six
. Even directly at the start it means buisness, with it's pulse-pounding drums and bass combo, and the crunched, grunge-influenced power chord riff. Matt's vocals bark some un-intelligible lyrics at you, but when the chorus rolls around, it transforms into a beautiful, melancholy song about, well, the end of the world. When the solo comes around, you get drifted off into a world of non-show-off-solos, and fist-pumping mayhem. Speaking of which, the song Indestructable
is sort of a fist-pumper, but it's way too intellegent and angry. The song is as intense as the album gets, with it's dark, overlooking riff over the simple and dark chords, and the hard-to-swallow vocal performance, but it all balances out in the chorus, which almost has a poppy feel to it, with it's three chord progression and overly-octavated vocal performance.
Let's not forget Matt's softer side. His softer peak on here is definitely the smash single Apparitions
, which starts out with a sole guitar riff that strikes a familiar chord with your brain, and only when the vocals enter can you really get that day-dreaming feel, with it's powerful and subtle chords and the thumping rhythm parts, as well as the agile vocal performance. The chorus makes a mockery of grunge, with it's beautiful and enchanting chord sequence get paired up with Matt's up-and-down vocals. The song doesn't seem to be able to get much better until the little mini solo comes in, which is chock full of distortion and the song moves into a more progressive piece, lacking a vocal role model, while still encouraging lying back and thinking about the future...
...sorry, dozed off there for a second.
Prime Time Deliverance
is just as good, which is an awesome acheivment. With the marching-band drums, silent bass and the addition of church keys, which is wrapped around a frankly astonishing vocal performance. The slowness of the song is interrupted briefly for an astonishing chorus that provides the slow, groggy and punch-filled choruses that are seen on the heavier tracks and the beauty that occupies the better part of the cd. Naturally, this song is over five minutes, and each second is filled to the top with as much thought provoking music that can sometimes fill a whole cd. As the song fades away, it's like saying goodbye to an old friend - hard to do but you have to let go. The follow The Inescapable Us
is close being the triumphant acoustic ballad of the cd, second only to Apparitions
. The ferocity is bottled in an acoustic body, with only the vocals to perform the angry dirty work. As the song progresses, it almost seems that this song, while a good song, seems out of place and should've been deleted from the album. It doesn't seem to fit with it's surroundings.
Today when the listener finishes the album, he/she has a good idea on what to go onto next - the heavier side of Matthew Good Band. Beautiful Midnight and The Audio of Being are both heavy albums with style and substance. But what about the listener in 1997" What happens to Matthew Good Band after this" This album sounds like the introduction to a pop-drenched, sappy mess. But, rest assured, even if Matthew Good Band did put out a ballad-filled sappy mess, then this album would remain; the heaviness of Indestructable
and the simplistic yet amazing Apparitions
would seem like a good place to look back to. It's an incredible album with lots of variety, and barely a bad song on there. Unforurtunately, the album has it's fair share of cheesy, hair-metal arena songs that wouldn't have been cool in 1984, but just press the skip button and you're back listening to 90's alt-rock at it's finest.