Major Matt Mason USA Honey, Are You Ready For The Ballet? Shoeshine (Shoecd014)
The first thing Id 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 grandfathers 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 isnt 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 didnt take Elliot Smith too long to start sucking corporate cock in the chase for better quality heroin, Id 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 MMMUSAs follow-up to Me Me Me, his UK debut for Glasgows fabulous independent, Shoeshine Records. Mostly recorded at the Olive Juice collectives NYC studio, Honey... is MMMUSAs 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.
Youre A Girl assures its subject that she is most definitely female (in the nicest possible way, obviously) & more than likely stays the night (demonstrating its 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.
Lets 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 Matts 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-ones heard of him other times it flows from the pen & the strings like larva from a volcano. Dont 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.
Its 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 wouldnt 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 trakMARX.com Nov 2002