whiskey and apples

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Several encounters with Matthew Houck (the man behind the Phosphorescent name) over the past couple months left increasingly strong impressions on me, from hearing some songs in passing, to playing with him at Emo's and missing half his set, to hearing more of his songs and thinking, "Whoa, there's more here than on the first listen," to watching him perform without amplification at my place and being pretty much blown away, and finally to hearing his second album in full and realizing it's some of the best writing and recording of our generation. I'm admitting how long it took me to fully catch on to this artist because if you think about it, the best stuff always seems to reveal itself quite gradually. I constantly find excuses to use this quote from Wittgenstein: "Light dawns slowly over the whole."

Matthew Houck's second release on the Misra label has a title that sounds like an old English expression, or maybe just a series of sounds, "Aw Come Aw Wry." The title track recurs as a theme and variations throughout the recording, developing beautifully with the songs, matching their style as they evolve. It's a great concept, taking the listener through a kind of transformation the same way a good film's protagonist grows from beginning to end.

The third track, "joe tex, these taming blues" is the kind of song the Billboard Charts would boast if I was in charge. My favorite lyrics, which I'd like to think are about a gal, are “Am I really really really really gonna hafta really gonna hafta really hafta leave town? I mean I called upon a bunch of angels callin, 'Angels aint you s'posed to come and take away these blues?'”

Listen to it on Phosphorescent's myspace page.

Track six, "dead heart," is beautifully orchestrated with dreamy backing vocals (which might be mellotron-enhanced; that's the effect they achieve.) Those backing vocals keep going through the revisitation of the "Aw Come Aw Wry" theme and the next track, "south (of america.)" Really intricate stuff.

I can't walk you through a record like this. It's a concept album you should just hear for yourself. A highly recommended work from one of our finest new writers. To learn more about Phosphorescent and get a copy of "Aw Come Aw Wry," please visit Misra Records.


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