Category Archives: Matthew and the Atlas

Matthew and the Atlas Have Disbanded?

I am heartbroken to announce that Matthew and the Atlas, a band that has become my favorite over the years, has disbanded. Things are still murky–it began yesterday morning with Facebook and WordPress posts that were quickly removed, but drummer Tommy Field left the below post on his other band’s Myspace.

Goodbye & Thank you to all “Matthew and the Atlas” fans

I’m very sad to announce that I’ve been released from my drumming duties for “Matthew and the Atlas”. With Harry Cargill leaving the band to start up his solo project, Matthew felt the band had progressed as far as it could in its current form and it was time for a change. Matthew will continue under the MATA name but as a solo performer for the time being – and I wish him all the best and I look forward to hearing his new material.

I’ve had a great time and seen some incredible places upon my travels – not to mention I’ve met some true lifelong friends and musicians on the way.

It has been a disappointing end to a road that showed a lot of promise and potential. I’d like to wish Matthew and all previous members of the band the best of luck with their future careers – having worked with them I know their talents will take them far under the correct guidance.

Thank you to every one who has supported and helped me along the way – in particular: Marcus, Win, Ben and Ted of “Mumford and Sons”. Zac Just our US tour manager. JL and Anke our US and European Booking Agents. “Big” Mike Harris of “The Apache Relay”. Helen, David, Shelby, Wes, Kristin and Joe of “The David Mayfield Parade”. Matt Oliver at The Big Orange Studio, Austin, TX. Sean and Phil of Daytrotter. Paul Frith. Mazin Tappuni. Jamie “The Crab” Emsell. Bob Wier and his amazing crew at Tri Studios and last but not least, all my friends and family.

If anyone has more information on this, please let me know. I and Matthew and the Atlas’s many other fans are devastated.

Communion News: Big Sur Event Is Now FREE, Live Webcast Tonight

I went to the Communion tour stop in San Francisco last night, and I was absolutely blown away. Matthew and the Atlas has been on my ‘must see’ list for years–they were the only member of my top five favorites list that I hadn’t seen live (and that includes Joni Mitchell!). There will be more to come on the show later, but let’s just say it surpassed even my insanely high expectations. And I met a wonderful reader! Thank you Karen for introducing yourself and being such a sweetheart. (AND pushing me to get that Laura Marling review done one of these days. I will, I promise!)

More importantly for you all are two pieces of pretty fabulous information. Firstly, there will be a live webcast tonight, featuring the three tour acts–Matthew and the Atlas, the immensely entertaining David Mayfield Parade, and the lovely Lauren Shera–as well as a special guest. Given that Ben Lovett and Winston Marshall were both in attendance last night, some Mumford action could definitely go down. The performance is taking place at Tamalpais Research Institute studios, which is actually just down the road from me. (Consider this my not-so-subtle push for an invite.) I’ll be camped out at my computer at 7pm Pacific Time to catch the show. Check out more information here.

The second piece of information is nothing short of fantastic. The Communion In the Redwoods event is now the glorious price of FREE. Jackie Greene had to bow out because of a family emergency, so the folks at Communion decided to issue full refunds for the weekend festivities. It’s things like this that make me love these guys and everything they stand for:

“In-keeping with Communion’s desire to create an unforgettable gathering in Big Sur this weekend, we are hereby announcing that Communion in The Redwoods shall now become a free show for all.

This decision has been born from respect and our collective desire to do the right thing. There is no doubt that for those present at Fernwood on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this will remain an incredibly special weekend of music and community.

More details of the event can be found at http://www.folkyeah.com and http://www.fernwoodbigsur.com

Full Refunds will be issued immediately.” (read more on their Facebook page.)

If I could make it down to Big Sur (which is incidentally right near where Ms. Lauren Shera and I grew up), I would be there in a heartbeat. The schedule for the three days is below, and it’s damn close to perfection:

Friday – Doors @ 6:00 pm
FERNWOOD TAVERN (indoors)
Zack Salaz
Everest
John Vanderslice
The Secret Sisters

Saturday – Doors @ 4:00 PM
FERNWOOD TAVERN (indoors)
Martin Shears
The Aglets
Nathaniel Rateliff
Infantree
Themes
Forrest Day

Sunday – Gates at Noon
FERNWOOD CAMPGROUNDS (outdoors)
The Good Sams
Songs Hatbox Harry Taught Us
Lauren Shera
The David Mayfield Parade
Matthew and the Atlas
Communion Collaborative Finale Set

EXCITING NEWS: Communion Readies US Launch

I was a bit ornery when a text message woke me up early this morning, but it turned out to be a blessing in sleep-addled disguise. Without that premature wake up call, I wouldn’t have seen the tweet about Communion Music coming to the US.

I’ve made my love for Communion pretty clear on this blog, and I have the incredible fortune to count Kev Jones as one of the speakers on my SXSW Panel Proposal (thank you for voting–fingers crossed!). If I could design my dream job, the label/club night would be it. They represent everything I love about English new-folk: the culture of support and collaboration, emphasis on creativity and individuality, and just effing great music. I’ve yet to meet a Communion artist I don’t like, and I fully expect that to continue when they hit my side of the pond.

To celebrate their launch, Communion has set up a North American tour AND a three-day party in Big Sur called “Communion in the Redwoods”. (Having grown up just outside of Big Sur, the thought of three days of folk music down there does sound like a religious experience.) On the tour, Matthew and the Atlas will be joined by the David Mayfield Parade and Lauren Shera (who also grew up just outside of Big Sur). Dates are below. If you want to join me for an awesome party in the redwoods, let me know–we can carpool.

October
18 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Hotel Cafe
20 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Swedish American Hall
21-23 – Big Sur, Calif. @ Communion In The Redwoods
25 – Seattle, Wash. @The Tractor Tavern
26 – Portland, Ore. @ Mississippi Studios
28 – Denver, Colo. @ Soiled Dove
29 – Ames, Iowa @ Maintenance Shop at Iowa State University
30 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ 7th Street Entry
31 – Evanston, Ill. @ Space

November
1 – Rock Island, Ill. @ Rozz Tox
3 – St. Louis, Mo. @ Blueberry Hill
4 – Nashville, Tenn. @ 3rd & Lindsley
5 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Smith’s Olde Bar
6 – Raleigh, N.C. @ Lincoln Theater
8 – Vienna, Va. @ Jammin’ Java
9 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ World Café Live
10 – New York @ Mercury Lounge
11 – Burlington, Vt. @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
12 – Boston, Mass. @ Cafe 939 at Berklee College of Music

P.S. As if you weren’t in a good mood already: Peggy Sue’s Acrobats is now streaming exclusively on The Line of Best Fit. Check it out before the September 12th release.

International Markets: The Upside for UK Music

Music royalty orgnization PRS for Music published its annual Adding up the UK music industry report today, presenting dismal figures for 2010. Even live music revenues, which had been on an impressive rise over the past several years, fell 11.8% between 2009 and 2010. UK industry revenues overall fell 4.8%. Yikes.

Is there anything good in a landscape that seems as bleak as London fog? Well, yes. Will Page, the chief economist for PRS for Music, advises in his report that the UK industry should ‘get small’ and ‘get abroad’. The first theme involves “reducing the transaction costs of managing metadata”, which I won’t pretend I understand. I’ll leave that topic for the grown-ups.

The second nugget of wisdom, though, I will happily discuss. The report found that royalties societies in the UK (like PRS for Music) did significantly better than those in the US (like ASCAP) over the 2010 year. Page acknowledges the huge potential for growth in exports, including in emerging markets like Brazil, India, and China. Page writes: “According to the BPI, UK artists’ share of global sales is estimated to be 11.8 percent in 2010, with one-in-ten sales in the US being a UK act and up to one-in-five in markets like Germany and Australia.”

While the report doesn’t talk about folk/new-folk/acoustic music specifically, I’d like to think that some of this growth has to do with the very artists I write about so frequently. While Adele may be queen in terms of sales figures (she was “responsible for almost 10% of all artist albums sold in the first four months of the year”), it shouldn’t be ignored that Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More hit number 2 on the Billboard 200. (And performed at the Grammys. And graced the cover of SPIN.) Their rise to the top is the gift that keeps on giving, through both their exposure-building US tours (bringing along artists like King Charles and Matthew and the Atlas) and the efforts of label/club night Communion. Even buzzy indie rock darlings the Vaccines grew out of the same tiny music establishment in southwest London, Bosun’s Locker (back when Justin Young was Jay Jay Pistolet, and shared a flat with Marcus Mumford).

While other UK folk acts have yet to reach the same status as the waistcoat-wearing Sons, they are certainly on the way. Noah and the Whale grabbed attention for their polished new sound and teaming up with director-photographer Autumn de Wilde on “Life is Life”. Alessi’s Ark made the New York Times at SXSW. Matthew and the Atlas and James Vincent McMorrow recorded for Daytrotter. Emmy the Great’s Virtue got a review in Pitchfork. Slow Club made waves (and Mashable) by debuting new material on Turntable.fm (with Paste magazine).

These are just the things that came to mind, but the fact remains that these artists are much closer to US recognition than they’ve ever been before. I can casually talk about Laura Marling or Johnny Flynn without getting blank stares, and I can buy the Communion compilation in Mojo magazine at an airport. I no longer have to scour Youtube for new-folk material–I can just click on iTunes (or Spotify). Back when I first found this whole ‘scene’, things like the Black Cab Sessions, Bandstand Busking, and even Jeremy Warmsley’s Welcome to Our TV Show (and the later version, Jeremy Warmsley’s New Thing) were about all I had. From my perspective, the rise in popularity since those early days (three-ish years ago) seems massive.

Furthermore, another BPI survey found that 83% of people are proud of the achievements of British music. While I’m sure they were dealing with Brits proper, I’m pretty proud of those achievements, too. For even though these new-folk artists often acknowledge American musical influences, there is something quintessentially and inescapably English (or Scottish, or Irish, depending) about them. So by all means, UK music industry–follow the advice of Mr. Page and ‘get abroad’. I’ll welcome you with open arms.

Matthew and the Atlas on Daytrotter

I just discovered this, but it was posted July 5th. Better late than never, eh? Check out the Daytrotter session for my beloved Matthew and the Atlas, which includes recordings of “To the North”, “I Will Remain”, “Come Out of the Woods”, and “Within the Rose”.

And while you’re at it, listen to the new Mumford & Sons track that’s been floating around, tentatively called “Home”:

Festival Envy

As I sit here writing papers on things like copyright law and public opinion polls, the rest of the music-loving world is journeying to Austin, Texas. The interactive/film/music powerhouse that is SXSW draws everyone from industry insiders to spring breaking hipsters because of its sheer awesomeness. I’m going to be living vicariously through all the music bloggers and tweeters taking over Texas this coming week, and I’ll try to post some of my findings on here. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for SXSW bands and artists to check out.

Admiral Fallow
The Scottish band formerly known as the Brother Louis Collective released their debut, Boots Met My Face, on March 28th in the UK. They have the Scottish vigor of a band like Frightened Rabbit, but have added a bit of softness and a lovely wind section. Their lyrics are clever and evocative, and standout track “Squealing Pigs” is the cheeriest ode to that “sinking feeling of being alone” I’ve ever heard.

Alessi’s Ark
There’s really nothing about Alessi’s Ark that I can add to what I’ve said already. If you haven’t climbed aboard the Ark, you’re missing out–big time.

Bombay Bicycle Club
There’s nothing new or small about Bombay Bicycle Club, but these guys do give a great live show. I saw an acoustic set at London’s Old Queen’s Head pub, and was instantly sold. That they followed up their 2009 debut I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose with an acoustic album (Flaws) made me pretty darn happy. Word on the street (er, in NME) is that they’re returning to electric for album number three, which will be released in June.

Goldheart Assembly
Goldheart Assembly released 2010’s Wolves and Thieves to positive reviews, and by all accounts their live performances are even better. NME called their on-stage sound “an explosion of energy”, and the band’s energetic California-esque harmonies seem built for live audiences.

The Head and the Heart
I love these guys. As I previously wrote, I discovered the Seattle band at a Stornoway concert–and they blew me away. Now they’re signed to Sub Pop, touring with everyone from Dr. Dog to Iron and Wine (later this spring), and are certainly going to keep climbing. Check out their official video for “Lost In My Mind”, which has been circulating MTVU:

High Highs
The lush music of High Highs strikes the perfect balance between ethereal and energized. Their songs are simply beautiful. I was first wooed by this dreamy cover of Wild Nothing’s “Live In Dreams”:

James Vincent McMorrow
See my post at For Folk’s Sake on the husky Irish singer-songwriter. Seems like just the type to create a hauntingly intimate live show.

Matt Corby
Gotta give a Communion shout-out to Australian Matt Corby, who morphed from Australian Idol contender to scruffy folkie. The transformation seems to suit him well, and got him signed to Communion after a placement on one of their Compilations.

Matthew and the Atlas
Matthew and the Atlas truly takes my breath away. Do yourself a favor and check them out, as soon as possible. Like, stop reading this. Go.

Noah and the Whale
Though I’m not crazy about their brand spanking new third album, Last Night On Earth, my love for NATW still knows no bounds. I’ll be officially reviewing the album later, but for some great and heartbreaking tunes, check out The First Days of Spring.

Summer Camp
I think I’m beating a dead horse on this one. They’re great, we already know that.

The Vaccines
Ohhhh, the Vaccines. I’ve yet to fully make up my mind on this straight-up guitar rock project from Justin Hayward Young and co., but it is unquestionably fun pop music. Their EP was released in the US on March 8th, and their debut album will be available May 31st.

Also: Alex Winston, The Antlers, Birds & Batteries (San Francisco bands FTW!), Bobby Long, Caitlin Rose (who I’ll be seeing with Johnny Flynn in May!), Cheyenne Marie Mize (who I saw with Johnny Flynn in November), Hunx & His Punx, John Grant with Midlake, Maps & Atlases, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pepper Rabbit, Rural Alberta Advantage, Sea of Bees, Smith Westerns, Trampled by Turtles, Tune-Yards, Wye Oak. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Matthew and the Atlas: Kingdom of Your Own EP Released

Matthew and the Atlas UK tour diary, with Mumford & Sons, Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit.

The first ‘new-folk’ song I ever heard was “The Box” by Johnny Flynn. Although I’d been exposed to quite a bit in the wider world of folk music, this new (to me) strain felt like coming home. Something about it just felt right, as if I were returning to something worn-in and well-loved. And as much as I adore all the English folk in my library, I hadn’t really experienced that transformative sensation since.

That changed when I heard Matthew and the Atlas. Maybe I have some primeval wiring that makes me respond this way, but for whatever reason–Matthew Hegarty’s hauntingly breathy voice, perhaps, or the beautiful fingerpicking–it just clicks. These songs, like Johnny Flynn’s, feel timeless; although they borrow from age-old folk traditions, they are utterly, poignantly present. The band’s new-folk label Communion Records (founded by Kevin Jones of Cherbourg and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons) perhaps describes it best: “the voice is the thing; it sounds a hundred years old and is etched with all the heartache and weariness that implies.” Matthew’s tone, at once rough and tender, is the perfect vehicle for these passionate declarations, and exquisite backing vocals by Lindsay West temper the grit. The result, so beautiful as to produce an actual ache in my chest, is almost cathartic in its expressive power.

Besides two released EPs, Matthew and the Atlas has been featured on the acclaimed Communion Compilation. The Communion label, which grew out of events at the Notting Hill Arts Club, celebrates and connects London’s burgeoning folk community. The band has similarly grown through the tight network of London musicians–Matthew even met banjo player Harry Cargill at a Communion club night. Given the talent in this small world of collaborators, it’s no surprise that music emerging from this scene feels so organic and natural. Matthew and the Atlas in particular returns not only to roots-style music but to metaphors and imagery drawn straight from the land. New EP Kingdom of Your Own sees seasons change, from falling autumn leaves and burning wood to melting snow. Even more than earlier works, these songs take on natural qualities: the rolling melodies of “The Waves” evoke the cyclical crashing of ocean water, and “I Followed Fires” conjures a scene of shooting and flickering flames.

The album has an underlying energy that is anything but static. Changes in dynamics and tempo are affecting, expertly controlled, and allow the listener to live each song’s emotional journey. The EP has a sense of forward movement–and does, in fact, illustrate the band’s stylistic progression. Their sound has grown and become more cohesive, and the album’s four songs expand an already remarkable emotive range. Like touring partners Mumford & Sons, Matthew and the Atlas emerged with a maturity of which many bands and artists only dream.

Kingdom of Your Own is a beautiful next step for an already accomplished band. Please do yourself a favor this month and let yourself be swept up in it.

I would be remiss in not posting this beautiful video, from the EP To the North.