Music

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea: Family Family Family Meets The Magical Christian

Denton's Matthew Gray spins dreamy, dayglo textures of Beatles-esque psychedelia in this vinyl-only debut, his friendly but warped reality couched in bright reverbed keyboards and swoony harmonies.


Matthew and the Arrogant Sea

Family Family Family Meets The Magical Christian

Label: Nova Posta Vinyl
US Release Date: 2008-10-28
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Here's a self-imposed challenge: how to write about Matthew and the Arrogant Sea's psyche pop oeuvre without referring to LSD. Instead, let's stick to lysergic landmark comparisons -- Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper and Neutral Milk Hotel's In an Aeroplane Over the Sea. Family Family Family Meets the Magical Christian is by no means in the same league with these classics, but it is an impressive debut. It shares these records' lucid dreamlike quality, its songs filled with bright colors, luminous melodies and bizarre but friendly imagery. Consider casio-paced, acoustic guitar'd "Pretty Purple Top Hat" which spins into its own universe with the opening salvo, "I was sitting on an orbit floating off in space/when your pretty purple top hat/hit me in the face." From there it's all glowing electro-keyboard flourishes and sighing vocals, surreal "hippo-sized balloons" floating by in the distance. Or take the foot-stomp-and-clap rhythmed "Mock Origami" with its swooning, much harmonized chorus of "And we all wave our hands goodbye." It is not so much strange as an alternate reality, bounded by its own set of rules and sciences and oddly inviting. A willing suspension of disbelief, of logic, of linearity is required to enter into this world, but once you're in, the water's wonderfully warm. Not many young songwriters are constructing their own universes, right off the bat, so substance-assisted or not, let's give songwriter Matthew Gray his due. This is a fantastic and phantasmagoric outing into alternate reality, and well worth checking even if you're stone cold sober.

7

The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti (By the Book)

With discussions of characters like Leon Ray Livingston (a.k.a. "A-No. 1"), credited with consolidating the entire system of hobo communication in the 1910s, and Kathy Zuckerman, better known as the surf icon "Gidget", Susan A. Phillips' lavishly illustrated The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti, excerpted here from Yale University Press, tells stories of small moments that collectively build into broad statements about power, memory, landscape, and history itself.

Susan A. Phillips
Books

The 10 Best Indie Pop Albums of 2009

Indie pop in 2009 was about all young energy and autumnal melancholy, about the rush you feel when you first hear an exciting new band, and the bittersweet feeling you get when your favorite band calls it quits.

Music
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.