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CD REVIEW: Matchstickmen - Acoustic Grooves to Soothe the Soul

by: Cyrus Rhodes

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Artist/Band: Matchstickmen

Album: Acoustic Grooves to Soothe the Soul
Label: MainLine Records

Website: http://www.matchstickmen-band.com/

Genre: Unplugged Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Acoustic Soul

Sounds Like: Days of the New, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Zakk Wylde, Alice in Chains

Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Dark Blue, Flicker, Wilson’s Lane

Weakness:  More solos, Drum Tonality, EP Release

 

CD REVIEW: 

 

(LIVERPOOL, ENG.) In music, breaking rules and challenging conventional wisdom are often deliberate efforts to establish a marketing niche, but for The Matchstickmen it's probably a natural state of mind. This latest 7 track release is entitled “Acoustic Grooves to Soothe the Soul.” Band consists of: Lewis Wright – Vocals, Peter Donnelly – Guitar, Iain Forsyth  - Bass and ​Mark O'Brien – Drums.

  

The CD quickly takes to flight with jumpy intro piece “Jealous Times”. This song serves up infectious rocked out musical ambience against mesmerizing vocals, hypnotic acoustic guitar, harmonies and driving rock rhythm that gently leads you by the hand down the path of folksy musical indulgence. Track 2 “Dark Blue” shifts gears a bit with its methodical intro, trippy alternative rock vibe and infectious vocals from Wright. Track 3 “Out First Goodnight” is an impressive hooky acoustic rock piece that is full of musical peaks and valleys, impressive chorus that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. By track 4 this EP hits solid stride delivering many impressive songs back to back. I've listened to the music of Matchstickmen. In fact I really liked the rocked out version of "Dark Blue" featured on their URL. To me they sound like a harder psychedelic version of Smashmouth, and Days of the New. This CD however is in a more unplugged type setting. As the EP slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of a classic Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Zakk Wylde and Alice in Chains. I would classify this music as unplugged Soulful Rock and Alternative Rock with a fun and eccentric Psychedelic, Indie College Rock flair. I can also hear some classic rock influences in there from say Lynard Skynard.  The CD at times presents brilliant peak and valley flow via a strong artistic perspective. Besides the four piece standard you will also notice rich layers of organ, melodic soundscapes, sporadic percussion, rhythm guitar, lush harmonies, keyboards,  low end beats, sonic vocals, exotic sound effects and enticing melodies - all built on a thick as a brick rhythmic foundation. Wright showcases impressive yet soulful singing skills throughout. His powerhouse vocal delivery are pretty solid across the board as Wright and company are clearly letting it all hang out in a fun way with this release. All production aspects check out. EP possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity - but sounds more like a live recording. Wright has an effective baritone and the vocal harmonies are effective and well placed. At times his voice reminds me a bit of Scott Weiland (Stone temple Pilots. This 6 song EP has  something for just about everyone and ends with Track 6 "Not Knowing" the perfect finalle statement for an EP like this.

 

I wish there were more solo segments throughout the catalog, especially on guitar. Drums sound a bit cheesy to me. I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases, as the full length CD is the most complete snapshot to judge an artist by. Cover art is a bit lacking and overly generic.   

 

Acoustic Grooves to Soothe the Soul by Matchstickmen is an impassioned, compelling musical journey. This band is making waves in the UK for a reason. Its strong suit is its amazing writers touch and heavy song for song musical flow. Wright and the gang get high marks from me for delivering a primarily rock based EP while keeping an unplugged feel - nice touch. This EP will be a real joy for those listeners out there who want a barebones rock-based musical experience to fill their atmosphere. This straight forward, easy to digest “unplugged” musical format makes for a great musical experience many will enjoy beyond the UK. I recommend you just hit play, close your eyes and see where the journey takes you.

 

Cyrus Rhodes