Matson Jones


aec.sri757.1 7/26/05 New
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    Matson Jones Sympathy For The Record Industry

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Review Text Matson Jones features two cellos, two vocalists, and a traditional rhythm section. No guitars or anything like that. But while the instrumentation is unconventional, on their self-titled Sympathy for the Record Industry debut the Colorado quartet draws directly from the indie rock status quo. Think Sleater-Kinney and PJ Harvey, not Rasputina and Apocalyptica. MJ's Martina Grbac and Anna Macorella most often play their cellos like wrangling rhythm guitars, lingering one's snaking melody on the churning tone of the other and periodically locking them together to match wits and volume with drummer Ross Harada and bassist Matt Regan. "N.E.S.F.T.O." and "Welcome Back, Mr. Audiotechnica.." pulse along like scratchy organic takes on Throwing Muses' Real Ramona LP, and Grbac and Macorella's lyrics throughout the record reflect cryptically on mind games, horniness, and damaged sex. But their vocals are heaped in a crackling distortion effect that gets tiresome fast. It's interesting when one voice stays in it and the other comes clean, like in the center of "Little Bit of Arson Never Hurt Anyone" or the on the late-set standout "He Means Nothing, Dear." But that doesn't happen often enough, and you begin to suspect the effect as a way to lend depth to songs that have trouble finding it on their own. Matson Jones has the cutting tone down, both in their sawing cellos and the lyrical, sometimes foreboding detachment. ("***Italian Song" and "////Spring Fever" are highlights.) And they never use their unique configuration as a crutch or gimmick. But their debut full-length also doesn't focus quite enough on songs, and those are something every kind of lineup needs. ~ Johnny Loftus

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