Matt Suggs-Amigo Row

October 3, 2008

Matt Suggs

Amigo Row (Merge 2003)

http://www.mediafire.com/?tmym3nmd9lc

It warms my cockles when readers send word that they truly loved something I posted. However, I was unprepared for the onslaught of three emails asking for the followup to Matt Suggs’ first album. Yes, three requests seems lonely to the likes of you, but I assure that they arrived in a fast and furious fashion that made me sweat a drop or two. I agree with all three of you. Matt Suggs’ solo album suggest what Stephen Malkmus actually wanted to achieve after he broke from Pavement. These are well-written, literate, moody ablums that keep one foot in the ironic 90s while poring through 60s psych in a way that somehow maintains the personal voice of the artist. I did love the odd arc taken by Malkmus on his Pig Lib album, but Suggs appropriations seem so natural and unforced instead of a decision to mine the past while sucking the teat of the profitable legacy.

Anyhow, Amigo Row is a close second if this anonymous lout had to choose between the two. There was a joy to be free of his previous band that lacks here. However, this one meanders in some more progressive directions. It’s a looser album due to the fact that he has used up his punchiest tunes of the debut and now must feel his way around to discover the next plateau. Fir the most part, it is successful. If the debut has suckered you into its humble grasp, then this is a wholly satisfying way to dig deeper into an artist who successfully broke free from his paper-thin shackles.

Matt Suggs

Golden Days Before They End (Merge 2000)

http://www.mediafire.com/?zy8b1bbiqvb

Matt Suggs comprised one half of Butterglory, a 90s indie-rock band that aimed for a comfy niche occupied by Pavement, twee and the Kinks. I always liked the band and their live shows were always appealing, but so were many other bands of their ilk. I know it sounds like a cliche, but their early singles were infectious in a way that their full-lengths were not. They were a good, but not great band that never rose beyond their influences.

I cannot really think of many 90s indie-rock artists that successfully managed to emerge from their fey, ironic cocoon, but Matt Suggs is the first that comes to mind. I ignored this album upon its release since I expected more of the same. However, Matt Suggs somehow channelled the spirit of the Davies brothers and recorded a thoroughly original take on the Kinks’ Something Else album. It lacks the bite and satire of this classic, but Suggs somehow found his voice and made one of the most unsung albums of the decade. Maybe I overrate it because it was so unexpected, but Golden Days Before They End kind of symbolizes a mid-life crisis for indie-rock to me. The old influences no longer held as much weight and Suggs responded with a gem that puts his love of country, Kinks, and melancholy tear jerkers on display. It’s an honest to goodness singer-singwriter album that tells a diverse array of sappy, sad tales while mixing in enough toe-tappers to keep things out of bi-polar territory. There is nothing about the album that leaps in your lap, but it is one of those albums that mimics an old friend and warm memory. It reassures me and I listen to it more than most album on my shelves. It’s a reminder of the moment when you realize that there is more than the music than the genre you embraced as a teen or young adult and discover that classic rock wasn’t quite the boogeyman you expected.