Thursday, August 6, 2009

Are You Experienced?

MATT EBERT – “Snakes And Tornadoes” CD ’09 (Private, US) – I started my magazine back in 1983. It was a stapled-together 8-page rag done on a black & white copier. It was called (the first issue, anyway) Metal Maelstrom. Had someone told me then that, 26 years, a 2nd marriage, 4 jobs and 5 kids later I’d still be doing it, I may have chuckled, laughed or out-right guffawed. And yet, here I am. Sure, I’m 51, yes my hair has fallen out and, oh yes, it’s now a blog and yet my goal is still pretty much the same thing: to find good, occasionally great, music out there and let more people know about it. The one thing that HAS changed a good bit is that I’m a lot more open-minded, genre-wise, than I used to be. Sure I still wear a helluva lot of black t-shirts with threatening wordage and I’ve yet to meet a guitar solo peeled off a Flying V thru a couple Marshall stacks that I don’t call “baby.” But through the graces of and education by some good friends & acquaintances, my ears have been opened to a lot of things I’d never given more than a passing fancy: punk, prog, jazz, folk, bluegrass, Celtic, R&B…. I’ve let a lot of new vibrations into the Realm. And those tremors have led to my crossing paths with one MATT EBERT.

If you’ve been a reader of this site for awhile, you’ll remember me not only handing down a rave review to EBERT’s previous disc “R&Bewilderment,” but also kicking back for an enlightening conversation with the man as well. So, when the Realm-box fell open one day awhile back & a brown envelope with MATT’s return address slid out, I was just a little bit stoked. To put it simply, MATT EBERT is a man with a vision. He gathers around him his best musical friends, especially guitarist Allan Ray and they let loose a set of songs that straddle genres yet head straight for the center of the listener’s soul. “Time (Don’t Waste Mine)” opens “Snakes…” riding high on a ridiculously cool mid-paced groove. MATT’s vocals are like a more roughly-hewn Billy Gibbons here, complimented nicely by some sweet backing vox and sax (from N. Day & L. Sewell, respectively). The guitar that percolates throughout, courtesy of Allan Ray, finally boils over into a closing solo that alone is worth the price of admission. “I’m Hip” jacks up the proceedings with a raw punk-style guitar riff and then the horns fly in creating what could be described as The Dead Boys meet Beefheart. If you’re not interested by now, I can’t help you but that won’t stop me from trying.

One thing I love about EBERT is the covers he sprinkles into the set. How ‘bout “Do It” (Nelly Furtado) with it’s sexy girlish backing vox gelling seamlessly with MATT’s gruff, Waits-like soul. Or the trad work-up “House Carpenter,” here refreshed as raved-up Southern punk. This one draws to a close with a heavy riff not unlike Rush’s “Working Man.” Not to be overshadowed, however, are more of EBERT’s stunning originals. Like the first 2 I mentioned earlier, versatility is the name of the game. “Buns Of Steel, Heart Of Stone” sees Ray & M. Boyd string long, sinuous guitar lines over a bluesy skeleton as MATT lays down an awesome throaty vocal, one of his best thusfar. “You Can’t Stop M.E. (No Limit)” is buoyed on a bed of horns (sax & trombone) with a hybrid New Orleans / Detroit feel that supports the raw, determined vox. You definitely can’t stop M.E.!!! A perfect close to the record, however, is the cover of “No More Drama” (written by James Samuel Harris III, Terry Lewis, Barry Devorzon & Perry Botkin and popularized by Mary J. Blige). Lyrically, it acts as a resolution, not only to the album but to what seems to be a series of dramatic, hurtful relationships & personal upheaval. The song fits perfectly as a positive look forward as the smoke clears.

So, what kind of music is “Snakes And Tornadoes?” Well, let’s see, there’s rock, there’s R&B, there’s punk, there’s…no, wait. It’s music that has the kind of depth that made me start this journey in 1983…genres be damned. Just get this now! An F5 Tornado

NOTE: As if you need any other encouragement, this album (plus his previous disc) is available for FREE (!!!) from MATT EBERT by contacting him through his myspace site (see below).

NOTE II: Coming soon to these pages will be a continuation of the conversation I had with MATT a year or so ago. Stay tuned….

No comments: