Nashville singer-songwriter Matt Moody's project offers something new crafted out of decidedly old parts.
Hands Down Eugene, the project of singer-songwriter Matt Moody, offers something new crafted out of decidedly old parts. Think of the psychedelic bits of the Beatles and you’re halfway there -- “doo doo” choruses, layered vocal harmonies, and totally familiar classic rock chord progressions. But there are 27 musicians credited with playing on their album Madison -- a collective attitude that manifests more in terms of breadth of sound than volume. The best of these mostly mid-tempo alt-country tunes inject moments of dissonance to their classic pop vocabulary to remind the listener there’s something more desperate going on. A string of three songs in the middle of the record are particularly on point: “If It’s Up to Me”, with its “ooh-la-la” backing vocals buried in the mix; “Ticket Girl”’s classic 1-5-1 construction overlaid with Beach Boys harmonies; and “Barry Short for Governor” with its more difficult, swirling electronic dissonances. The injection of small musical jokes and spoken word introductions (once in German) throughout give Madison a self-deprecating impression, but it’s the strung-out phrases, resolving just the way you expect but still somehow powerful, that make Hands Down Eugene’s music interesting.