Major Matt
Matt rocks!
Major Matt Mason USA – “Honey, Are You Ready For The Ballet?” – Shoeshine (Shoecd014)

The first thing I’d like to say about this LP is: fuck Ryan Adams. It is possible to convey emotion, depth & sincerity via a simple rock & roll song without sounding like a million grandfather’s dream stadium ticket (& posing around in front of the Stars & Stripes like Bruce fucking Springsteen).

Every 5 years or so the US underground produces a maverick singer songwriter that transcends the genre that threw him up (& that isn’t Jesse Malin, Ryan). In the late 90s that singer songwriter was Elliot Smith – in 2002 that singer songwriter is Major Matt Mason USA (& before you start panicking & pointing out that it didn’t take Elliot Smith too long to start sucking corporate cock in the chase for better quality heroin, I’d just like to assure you that there is very little chance of Matt becoming Major Label Matt Mason USA – just check the Olive Juice manifesto for proof). “Honey, Are You Ready For The Ballet?” is MMMUSA’s follow-up to “Me Me Me”, his UK debut for Glasgow’s fabulous independent, Shoeshine Records. Mostly recorded at the Olive Juice collective’s NYC studio, “Honey...” is MMMUSA’s most expansive work to date.

“Honey, Are You Ready For The Ballet?” opens with the sprightly optimism of “Shark Attack”:

“I rise with the sun, cause I slept with yr. daughter”.

A delicious riff, sporadic bass, passing subway train percussion & a wonderfully warm melody - you know from the instant the laser hits the disc that this guy cares a lot.

“Misdirected Energy” forges ahead wilfully, check the fuzzed up guitar break at 1.31:

“You say you love me, I love you too. Now we love each other what is there left to do? 8 million seconds left to kill”.

“Follow Her” features Peter Dizozza on piano: the beautiful rolling intro bleeds into an affecting melody & some sterling acoustic strummage that recalls “Bull Of The Woods” period Rocky Erickson.

“You’re A Girl” assures it’s subject that she is most definitely female (in the nicest possible way, obviously) & more than likely stays the night (demonstrating it’s ability to respect her in the morning) - all in the space of 2 minutes & 43 seconds.

Another killer riff introduces “Mittens”:

“My mittens became a glove. My chicken became a dove & the more I felt pain the closer I came to hopelessly falling in love - with you.”

The latter line: “the biggest band in the country now is not the best band in the country”, suggests that with MMMUSA even a simple love song is something far deeper than that.

“Hunted” laps at the shores of greatness:

”Grass on the plane, get your ass on the train”.

Let’s advertise their new disguise. Being hunted is not the same as being wanted. The verses are augmented by what appears to be a pig sniffing at truffles (but knowing Matt’s love of felines, it could just be a cat scratching a mat & then walking across a piano).

“Pet Rock” breezes in & out on the back of the US national anthem being performed under water by the cast of Stingray (on instruments belonging to the Trumpton Colliery Brass Band):

“The rings around your petrock, how much you jack your beanstalk”.

“Tow The Line” takes us down to the basement & the darkness that exists in everyone of us at sometime or other:

“When your life is piling up around you & your time is burning up before you & your mind is moving on without you & your rhymes are no longer about you, just unwind with your kind.”

You have to go up to come down to go back up again.

“Lame” is a tale of artistic shortcoming. Some times it works, some days it sounds like a hymn, some days you feel like Mozart, some days no-one’s heard of him – other times it flows from the pen & the strings like larva from a volcano. Don’t sweat it.

“Surface Deep” is an excursion into ambience that comes on like a happy Godspeed with no particular political agenda & absolutely no portent, whatsoever. Refreshing.

“It’s All You” brings proceedings to a close. It starts with the sound of a cassette being rewound & Matt sniffing (you can here traffic in the background as well – a feature of many MMMUSA recordings). A final perfectly formed gem glistening in a jewellery box of wonder.

“Honey, Are You Ready For The Ballet” should be held tightly to yr. chest at night for fear that it may be spirited away while you sleep. You could glue it into your CD player, of course – but then you wouldn’t be able to play:

MMMUSA - “Me Me Me” – Shoecd008
MMMUSA - “Rivington 94 & The Tower Days” – Olive Juice
Schwervon! - “Quick Frozen Small Yellow Cracker” – Olive Juice

Guy Debored – – Nov 2002

contact - the needle & the damage done