Tempers flare, as Maurice Mattei celebrates another CD release

It's become somewhat of a playful tradition for me that every time local singer/songwriter Maurice Mattei puts out a new release, I make some mention of his prolificacy. For a while, Mattei would

 
Maurice Mattei, the hardest working man in Cincinnati show biz.



It's become somewhat of a playful tradition for me that every time local singer/songwriter Maurice Mattei puts out a new release, I make some mention of his prolificacy. For a while, Mattei would put out CDs each year, each containing an overflowing tracklisting. While he doesn't make Bob Pollard look lazy (that might be impossible), certainly challenges the former Guided By Voices honcho when it comes to song catalog quantity.

Mattei — whose releases have mostly been acoustic presentations of his poetry-laced, character-driven Rock songs — is back after what seems like a long time (for him) since his last release. But Mattei's latest is a different beast, as he further explores the potential of putting his songs to the beat of a full Rock band, something in which he has only dabbled in the past. The Tempers were created for just this purpose. The band's first release is the cheekily-titled The Tempers Perform the Best of Maurice Mattei: Volume 3. The group plays this Friday at the Northside Tavern to promote the new release. The Delusionals will also perform.

The album features numerous local music friends, including drummer Mike Grimm (formerly of The Mortals), Korin Mattei (Radiolaria, and Maurice's wife), Bob Nyswonger (psychodots, Bears), Jim Cole (The Customs) and a few others.

The CD indeed features lots of reworked material from Mattei's discography, culled from a quartet of albums released since 2002. But there are also a handful of new songs, including the '60s-esque rocker "Minutes Seem Like Hours" and the shuffling, acoustic-based "I Was a Stranger There."

Mattei transitions from his solo comfort zone to a full band incredibly well. While I really like Mattei's acoustic albums, there was — as with most solo acoustic records — a tendency for the songs to kind of blur together. It's hard to make sparse acoustic tracks jump out of the speakers. With the full-band approach, the songs become more animated and distinct. And the arrangements are superb. There's a sort of Garage-meets-Roots vibe — perhaps Mattei's original intent for the songs all along — that is quite powerful.

The track "53 Counts" is a great example of how the new band can bring so much to a song — Mattei's vocals are especially intense and, with the group's circular grind behind him, he seems to have really taken to the idea of digging into these songs and revivifying them. The songs might be the same, but the backing musicians can shift emphasis and give the songs a distinctive pulse. Instead of just having the musicians play "whatever," Maurice seems to have really thought out the fuller arrangements, right down to the cool extras, like the harmonies on "Carnival Delivery" or the organ, sax and pedal steel touches scattered throughout.

The new presentation has given Mattei a refreshing new outlet. I, for one, hope he sticks to it. This is the album of his career so far. (

 
Maurice Mattei, the hardest working man in Cincinnati show biz.



It's become somewhat of a playful tradition for me that every time local singer/songwriter Maurice Mattei puts out a new release, I make some mention of his prolificacy. For a while, Mattei would put out CDs each year, each containing an overflowing tracklisting. While he doesn't make Bob Pollard look lazy (that might be impossible), certainly challenges the former Guided By Voices honcho when it comes to song catalog quantity.

Mattei — whose releases have mostly been acoustic presentations of his poetry-laced, character-driven Rock songs — is back after what seems like a long time (for him) since his last release. But Mattei's latest is a different beast, as he further explores the potential of putting his songs to the beat of a full Rock band, something in which he has only dabbled in the past. The Tempers were created for just this purpose. The band's first release is the cheekily-titled The Tempers Perform the Best of Maurice Mattei: Volume 3. The group plays this Friday at the Northside Tavern to promote the new release. The Delusionals will also perform.

The album features numerous local music friends, including drummer Mike Grimm (formerly of The Mortals), Korin Mattei (Radiolaria, and Maurice's wife), Bob Nyswonger (psychodots, Bears), Jim Cole (The Customs) and a few others.

The CD indeed features lots of reworked material from Mattei's discography, culled from a quartet of albums released since 2002. But there are also a handful of new songs, including the '60s-esque rocker "Minutes Seem Like Hours" and the shuffling, acoustic-based "I Was a Stranger There."

Mattei transitions from his solo comfort zone to a full band incredibly well. While I really like Mattei's acoustic albums, there was — as with most solo acoustic records — a tendency for the songs to kind of blur together. It's hard to make sparse acoustic tracks jump out of the speakers. With the full-band approach, the songs become more animated and distinct. And the arrangements are superb. There's a sort of Garage-meets-Roots vibe — perhaps Mattei's original intent for the songs all along — that is quite powerful.

The track "53 Counts" is a great example of how the new band can bring so much to a song — Mattei's vocals are especially intense and, with the group's circular grind behind him, he seems to have really taken to the idea of digging into these songs and revivifying them. The songs might be the same, but the backing musicians can shift emphasis and give the songs a distinctive pulse. Instead of just having the musicians play "whatever," Maurice seems to have really thought out the fuller arrangements, right down to the cool extras, like the harmonies on "Carnival Delivery" or the organ, sax and pedal steel touches scattered throughout.

The new presentation has given Mattei a refreshing new outlet. I, for one, hope he sticks to it. This is the album of his career so far. (mmattei.com)

Falling But Not Failing
This Friday, the rootsy rockers of 40 East release their first EP, the impressive five-song Fall In Love or Fall Apart. The band celebrates the new release with a show at the Southgate House's Parlour this Friday. The show also features performances by Israel Hensely and Tupelo Honey.

The band was formed by the "remnants" of area acts The Hinges and All Their Eyes, but 40 East's material and execution far outshine both of them. Both showed great potential, but now the members have reached that potential with 40 East. It's like the best elements of both former bands — sort of the opposite of Velvet Revolver and Audioslave.

While the songs on the EP have a Roots aftertaste, this is more soulful, melodic Rock than AltCountry. Singer Josh Muddiman has a perfect Rock & Roll voice, which is bathed in a smoky rasp, giving the melodies and lyrics an extra "lived-in" depth.

The songs fall somewhere between the gritty, grounded soul of Ryan Adams and the (non-annoying) reflective, wistful Pop of Goo Goo Dolls, enveloped in a huge wall of driving, ragged guitar. But the songs are fairly dynamic, dipping into more spacious bits with less overdriven, echoing guitar parts, like on the strong opener, "Something to Look Forward." There's an accessibility to the songs, via the great hooks, but they never get to the point of pandering, keeping things gritty and real, instead of too shiny and overly thought-out.

Fall In Love or Fall Apart is a great start for this promising quartet. Keep an eye on 'em — like perhaps this Friday at the Southgate Parlour? (40eastband.com)



CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com

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