Matt Mays & El Torpedo, Matt Mays & El Torpedo | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It
Favorite

Matt Mays & El Torpedo, Matt Mays & El Torpedo 

(Reincarnate Music, CD)

Nova Scotia-based songwriter Matt Mays is running down an Americana dream. He and his band El Torpedo recently released a self-titled CD in the vein of early Tom Petty and Mays' Canadian contemporary Sam Roberts. Each of the disc's 13 songs is comfortably familiar, if somewhat unadventurous.

Well on his way to stardom in his own country, Mays has yet to make a dent in America. Give him time. With songs like these, he'll no doubt find his niche among No Depression readers looking for the next denim hero.

As a vocalist, Mays borrows heavily from the California country-rock sound of the late '60s and early '70s. The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo LP is an obvious influence, as it no doubt was on Petty. But where the Laurel Canyon cowboys favored chiming axes and loose arrangements, Mays prefers rugged riffs and tight turnarounds.

Opener "Travellin'" is one part Rickenbacker jangle, two parts overdriven anthem. Subsequent track "Cocaine Cowgirl" strikes a curious balance between pop-rock puff and searing emotion. Picture Rick Springfield recast as a heartland rocker, and you're nearly there.

"Ain't So Heavy" attempts to capture romantic angst in a bottle. "Tryin' so hard to put the blue back into your sky," Mays sings with well-rehearsed weariness. Cresting guitars, driving drums and a fine female harmony in the chorus should make for a lovelorn classic. What's missing is the sense of anything real at stake.

The acoustic strum of "Lost Souls" could be straight from a Travelin' Wilburys album. Actually, Roy Orbison's rich croon would've sounded sweet on this delicately tattered tune.

"It Don't Matter" is another gem that appears further in. A fairly simple number, Mays no doubt could've been penned it in minutes. Still, the song's Stones-y axe work and tumbling percussion shows a rambunctious side of the band that deserves further exploration.

Closer "Wicked Come Winter" is a chugging ballad with a particularly affecting vocal performance by Mays. Spacious verses and a more creative arrangement make for my favorite tune on the album.

If you like mid-tempo, widescreen rock, Matt Mays & El Torpedo might be your new favorite record. At the very least, it'll sound nice between interstate off ramps. Hear the boys live when they open for Los Lobos at the Higher Ground Ballroom on Friday, November 17.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Tags: , ,

Pin It
Favorite

More by Casey Rea

About The Author

Casey Rea

Casey Rea

Bio:
Casey Rea was the Seven Days music editor from 2004 until 2007. He won the 2005 John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in Album Review

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation