Show Preview: Matt Pryor @ Antones (2/1)

Date Wednesday, Feb 1st
Location Antone’s
Doors 700 pm
Tickets $14 from Frontgate

If you’re looking for a show to take you back in time, all the way back to the late 90s Emo scene, then perhaps this is where you’ll need to be.  I can’t vouch for some of the singers doing their solo gig, but I hear they were a big deal.  However, I can advise you, if you can afford to go check out Matt Pryor and Chris Conley.  Chris is part of Saves the Day, where a small part of me still has a bit of love.  Matt Pryor, however, has continued to step outside his work with TGUK and promote his solo work.  His latest, May Day, is just another step in the right direction for a man who clearly knows his way around an acoustic track that warms your soul.  I’ll be there for Matt for sure.


Download: Matt Pryor – Your New Favorite

Matt Pryor – May Day

Rating: ★★★½☆

I’ll admit that there’s definitely a soft spot in my heart for Matt Pryor, though I was less than enthralled with his last effort with former band The Get Up Kids.  Yet, despite that misstep, he’s always had a great ability to craft songs with lyrics that somehow find attachment to my heart. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s been warming his way into our hearts from the get-go, and May Day is just another example of his perfectly executed work.

“Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down” opens the record, and the title alone should make it a timeless song, as we’ve all been in those shoes.  But, what really stuck out to me is the rough quality of the recording that’s present.  It sets the tone for May Day, providing listeners with a personal experience that’s both raw and beautiful.  “The Lies Are Keeping Me Here” similarly accomplishes the same note, particularly when Pryor’s vocals strain in the middle track.  You’ve got to appreciate a singer who’s willing to give his all on the microphone and his music.

While Matt Pryor’s work of the last few years has definitely held a hint of melancholy, he’ll craft a nice little ditty to catch you in its hooks.  Such a song is exemplified in “Where Do We Go From Here,” a song that features a playful piano line that works its way behind a nicely strummed guitar.  I think he even makes a nod to “worse for the wear,” which old Pryor fans will surely recognize (I hope!).  For the most part, this is about as bright a moment as you’ll find lurking on the album, as the rest takes on a rather serious tone.

Still, one of the things fans of Matt’s solo work will appreciate is his ability to really step outside our expectations with inclusions of multiple instruments on his solo outings, such as harmonica, banjo and various other nice touches.  “As If I Could Fall In Love Again” might do it’s best to incorporate all these elements into one song–but Matt’s background vocals are probably the best touch to this particular track.  But, just as he’s likely to fill up a song with instruments, he’s also willing to strip everything down to its rawest form on May Day.  “As Lies Go..This Ones Beautiful” is basically a stripped down, personal ballad, with Pryor’s voice taking the lead role here.  He’s always been a little off-pitch, but that’s always been something that made him endearing.  Here, you’ll find him as stark-naked as a musician as you’ve probably seen him, and you’ll be rewarded.

I’m predisposed to love Matt Pryor, but I’ll admit dissatisfaction when it’s warranted.  However, there’s not a bad track on the duration of May Day; each track has its special moments, some more so than others.  I suppose you could complain that there’s no incredible songs blowing you away, but it’s better to look at this record as one full of really good tracks.  Whether you grew up listening to the old emo, of which TGUK and Pryor owned, or you’re just encountering him, one listen here will bring you vast listening pleasure, the likes you won’t really find elsewhere in the current climate.


Download:Matt Pryor – Your New Favorite [MP3]

Matt Pryor On Daytrotter

mattSorry for the double up on Daytrotter posts this week, but damnit we can’t not post when Matt Pryor records a session.  We talk about Matt and his work in and outside of GUK and New Amsterdams on our site constantly, so you all know we love the guy.  Hell we even interviewed him a while back!  Enough rambling, check out the awesome session with songs from Matt’s debut solo record Confidence Man plus this unreleased track “Your Look Gave You Away”.


Download: Matt Pryor – Your Look Gave You Away [MP3]

FT5: Songs with the Word Valentine

0213top5coverSeeing as the Hallmark Holiday is hours away, I thought I would browse through my collection and throw out my Top 5 Favorite Songs with the word “valentine” in the title. Sure, one would think that songwriters have better things to do than sing about a nonsensical holiday with little or no meaning, but then again, they are just love songs in the end, aren’t they? Some of these bands have made appearances on our lists before, and some you might not be aware of, until now that is. So here is to you and yours on this most sacred of holidays. I hope your Valentine’s Day is as good as these songs.

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Kimya Dawson – Alphabutt

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Fresh off her new found fame from the Juno soundtrack, Kimya Dawson decided that those hordes of kids would appreciate an album directed solely at them. Alphabutt is her chance to win the kids over, again.

Of course, we all aren’t surprised at this move, considering her lyrical output up to this point has typically revolved around childishness. I wondered, of course, would she further this venture and aim directly at the child market. Well, she does, but not necessarily in a successful manner.

Those of you that fell in love with the Juno soundtrack, and fell in love with Kimya for the first time will find yourselves extremely disappointed. The songs are not as neatly crafted as her previous solo efforts. Often times, the tinkering noises in the background are far too distracting for a listener to even focus on the music itself; how those kids will get it I don’t know. One thing for sure is that she could definitely get away from using the baby noises in the background. It was cute once, but to keep using it is absurd.

There are a few songs on this album with redeeming qualities, namely “Happy Home” and “Sunbeams and Some Beams.” They are more traditional in the style that Kimya has come to give us, though they do seem a bit boring. Still, this is the closest she comes to replicating her unique sound.

My reference point for indie stars going the child route is Matt Pryor’s Terrible Twos. Sure, Matt sings about things most of us no longer adore, like ladybugs, but he still manages to maintain his talents as a songwriter within the childhood realm. The style is still Matt Pryor. In contrast, you have Kimya Dawson who seems to have walked down this road blindfolded with her dick and fart jokes still strapped to her back. It doesn’t do much for this listener, and I doubt it will do much for the childhood genre.

As Matt mentioned in our interview with him, the child music market is pretty wide open. We might see many more indie stars with kids take this route, but for me, I just hope Kimya focuses more on what she is offering us in the future. This piece didn’t turn out too well. There are some high points, but in the end, you wish she would go back to her adult-centric output. That’s where I’ll stay.

08/23 Matt Pryor Show @ Stubb’s

Matt Pryor has evolved quite a bit to get to where he is now. Would you have believed me 10 years ago if I told you he’d be playing shows armed only with an acoustic guitar? Most of the vagrant punk followers would accuse you of mistaken identity and slap you around a bit. Believe it or not you old Get Up Kids die hards, that’s what Matt Pryor is all about nowadays. He went to being a pioneer in the pop-punk world to now being an extremely solid singer song writer who still inspires the young and old.

Show review and pictures after the jump

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Matt Pryor In Austin (8/23)

Matt Pryor, formerly of The Get Up Kids & The New Amsterdams, will be showing his face at Stubbs in Austin on Saturday for 2 different events. The first set will feature an all ages show from Matt’s kid focused group, The Terrible Twos. Terrible Twos will be performing at 3pm with tickets running you $7.50. Later in the evening, Matt will play a solo set with doors at 9pm and tickets only costing you $12.00. Read more about Matt Pryor on his myspace page or check out our review of his latest album Confidence Man.

Matt Pryor – Confidence Man

Rating: ★★★★☆

This time around Matt Pryor opted to go it alone. He left his band behind, and wrote and recorded this entire fifteen-song album in his home studio. It’s more subdued than his other works, but it accomplishes more, letting him roam wherever he chooses.

Here we find Matt at his most personal, though not entirely in the lyrics. The usage of an acoustic guitar, though not entirely different from all Pyror projects, lets you sit in the living room of Matt, while he tries out all these new tunes for you, at least that is the aesthetic I took from listening.

Not surprisingly, his voice sounds really strong throughout the album. Sure, it’s distinctly Matt Pryor, but a few years removed from mass touring seems to have cleared the throat a bit, allowing for some of the more pristine vocals I have heard from this guy. For some, the tone might come off a bit grating initially, especially if this is your first meeting with Matt, but hold on, for you will remember it forever in the back of your mind.

Lyrically, he doesn’t stray far from the usual stylings he has come to grace us with in the last decade. His themes range from the typical love to loss to friendship to observation. The interesting thing throughout this record is how personal the songs feel, without always having to discuss personal topics. You come away feeling that Matt wrote these songs just for your ears, and as a listener you couldn’t ask for more from a singer-songwriter.

My complaint on the album, if I were to create one, is that there aren’t really standout tracks–meaning there is not clear single, or set of singles. However, this doesn’t mean that the songs are weak, it just means that he has come up with his most complete album to date. A listener can go from the first song to the end without getting lost or bored. I suppose this is a good thing–depends on how you look at it.

Whether he is stripped down to the bare bones of an acoustic guitar, or whether he is backed by a full band, Matt Pryor continues to write amazing songs, accompanied by lyrics you can identify with throughout Confidence Man. This is just another warning to the music masses that Pryor is indeed a songwriter who still has what it takes to write great songs.

And, he is coming to Austin on August 23rd with his other group The Terrible Twos. Pick up your tickets.

Matt Pryor Solo Album

Admittedly, I was way into that new-Emo that came out of Lawrence back in 1997. I was hopelessly devoted to The Get Up Kids, and traveled to see them over a dozen times. I followed Matt Pryor, the lead singer, onto his New Amsterdams project. Now, he has a solo release, done completely on his own. I couldn’t be more excited. It comes out July 29th on Vagrant. You can listen to the album Confidence Man at Matt’s MySpace page.