Thursday, June 13, 2013

REVIEW: Matthew J. Tow - The Way of Things

Matthew J. Tow is an Australian singer/songwriter with vast experience in the psychedelic rock arena - in addition to having led The Lovetones and Drop City, he has logged time in The Brian Jonestown Massacre and released instrumental music as Coloursound. Listening to his new album, The Way of Things, I am struck by a worldly wisdom in the lyrics, and a real talent in putting hooks to service of long, satisfying songs. In places, I'm reminded of old psych/pop like The Kinks, Syd Barrett and John Lennon as well as British psych pop like Robyn Hitchcock, Oasis and Blur, and the sweet guitar rock of The Byrds and Tom Petty.

To start out the record, Tow features the 11:00 super psych jam, “Night And Day.” As Tow explains, “I didn’t want to do another album that started with a standard track, where the listener can easily forget the singer’s name after only five minutes. I wanted to immediately put the listener in a place they weren’t expecting.” There are several songs of fairly conventional length and construction, but nothing is exactly right down the middle... yet everything on here works perfectly, including little touches like the whistling on "Seven Days".

Drawing on his time in The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tow worked with Collin Hegna of BJM to produce, and the recording was split between Hegna’s Revolver Studios in Portland, Oregon and Tow recording material in Australia. In places the album is plenty heavy and psychedelic, but it also features some sweet, melodic country rock including some wonderful pedal steel on "Crazy Ramblin' Broken Heart" and reverb-drenched piano on "When I Get to Sydney" - a really well-done sad song.

Here's "It's Gonna Be Alright" - an easy, loping jam encompassing acoustic and electric guitars and Tow's warm vocals with well-conceived harmonies:

The Way of Things is an album that will fit comfortably next to just about anything in your collection, but it features songwriting and music that is strong enough to stand out, too. If you like West coast psychedelia, or if you like melodic guitar rock, there is plenty here to make you happy, including a slow-burning guitar jam on the 6:00-plus "I Love My Brother" to close out the album.

The album is out this week (June 11) on Xemu Records.

Matthew J. Tow Website
Xemu Records

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