Matt North – if you’ve never heard of him you’ve probably seen him. Not only is he a singer/songwriter/session drummer, he’s a TV and movie actor, having appeared in early-mid 2000’s episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Angel, and Heroes, as well as the made-for-television movie Dirty Pictures with James Woods. He’s also done stand-up comedy. In 2017, though, it looks like he’s only in it for the music with the release of his debut album Above Ground Fools.
A concise little collection of ten songs that channel the Rolling Stones and other earthy rock while remaining firmly planted in their Nashville soil, Above Ground Fools (yeah, a play-on-words of “above ground pools”) is the kind of album that you put on and then go do something real blue-collar-y like re-finish furniture or change a light bulb or mow the lawn…wait, I guess you’d hafta really turn it up full-blast to hear it over a lawnmower. But anyway, that’s the gist of Michigan-born, Nashville-based North’s song-craft (yes, all songs written and produced by Matt North).
Opening track “A Good Day In Nashville” (which naturally starts with – drums) will have you clappin’ and tappin’ while North describes the hijinks of his trashy next-door neighbor, his ex-musician electrician, chiropractor, lawyer, etc. over a country highway of organ chords and good ol’ slide guitar. “No Hard Feelings” continues in a slower, Stones-esque setting with plenty of meaty guitar and North’s wacky wordplay rhymes that at times approach rap, country-boy style.
Graham Parker sort of comes to mind on “Seventeen Days,” as North relates another nasty Nashville-style saga; things slow down even more on the introspective news-anchor ode “Cronkite and Cosell”; and then it’s time for one of the high points, “Miss Communication,” with its endless supply of “-ation” lines, lovely Leon Russell-like breaks, and piles of wah-wah heaven. “I Sold It All” starts out promising but ends abruptly at 2:16 (the video keeps going with an amusing skit involving the guy in Quebec who North sells his drums to – and the guy’s annoyed girlfriend who steals the show by the way).
The pent-up anger and despair of “Murder Shows” explodes in a nice, ear-splitting debacle of distortion, then that country ‘n’ western swagger returns with “Jesus and Fireworks.” Mick Jagger meets Jonathan Richman (or something) on “Badgering The Witness,” and the album finishes up in fine country-punk style with the rollicking “Come Here Go Away.”
So grab that paint can or that hedge trimmer (or just a beer) and sing-a-long with Mr. Matt North!
images courtesy artistdirectinterviews.com, cardcow.com, quickenloans.com