She & Him, but more so him...and maybe me?
I've spent this morning with breakfast & NPR's First Listen - She & Him: Volume 2. I'm a big fan of this particular group, as you'll soon learn.
SHE - Zooey Deschanel, actress/songwriter/singer/KNOCKOUT
HIM- M.Ward, Producer/Singer/Songwriter/Guitar Player/Cool Guy
EDITORS NOTE: This isn't an "album review" so much as an M.Ward love fest where I will reference myself, my music and my thoughts...why? because its MY blog.
When I try to think of who has the heaviest influence on the music I make, the name that has and will most likely always ring out first is M. Ward. Of course there are countless others, but when I run down my mental list of criteria for "how to sound," he carries out every last one.
I love his records in their entirety...I love his production (more on that later)...but what makes "She & Him," stand out above all the rest is the overall "sound" they achieve. Together, they create breezy, summery, country, pop, but combined with witty, under analyzed lyrics from Zooey...and I mean that in the nicest way possible. The lyrics come off simple, but sometimes knock you off your feet..."We two are makers/Just made this mess." It's as if they make the perfect mess, and create the record I will be attempting to make for the rest of my life.
One part shuffle, two parts dirty electric guitar noodling, Bigsby Vibrato and VI-O-LA!, as Rose Nylund would say. Obviously if it were that simple, my lifelong goal would certainly be achieved...But consider a sad song still making you happy, consider a song that makes you feel like you're riding in a convertible down the Pacific Coast Highway when you're stuck on the N train in the middle of the snowiest month in NYC history. THAT is the end goal in my book...take someone to a place they'd like to be.
Some people don't know what kind of record they'll make until its made, and I'm sure that will be the case for me...however, I KNOW my first full-length record will consist of breezy, surfy, country, pop. At least that's how I'll approach it. Judging how I'm sounding lately, it might be a little grittier, and of course it'll have plenty of sad bastard songs, as those are what I write best. I like to think of music in terms of love. Some genres are only good for certain days, and that's the kind of relationship that will tend to turn up here and there, just when you've forgotten they existed... but the ones that always sound great will always make you happy. To me, that is The late 50's /early 60's sound ...ie: Bum bum-bum CHHH! Is, and always will be my favorite drum sound. Santo & Johnny's version of "Sleepwalk", although at times invokes the need to scream "RICHIE!", is one of the greatest songs on earth. The Beach Boys harmony & electric guitar pluck on "Don't Worry Baby" will always bring me chills. I can go on and on, but I wont...for your sake.
Now, production...I'll keep this as short as I can. A lot of producers are also singer/songwriter types. To name a few, Ryan Tedder (of the band One Republic,) Butch Walker, and yep, you guessed it...Frank Stallone! I kid, I kid...M. Ward but I LOVE to listen to a producer's own record. Butch Walker has written for tons of commercially successful artists, Ryan Tedder is a freaking POWERHOUSE, with 3 hits of his own so far, he's also written SMASH hits for Beyonce (Halo), Jordin Sparks (Battlefield), Leona Lewis (Bleeding Love), Kelly Clarkson (Already Gone)...and plenty of others. The records they make for themselves, however are the ones I'm mostly interested in, maybe because it shows they're human? I don't really know. While M.Ward isnt exactly the most successful of the lot on a commercial level, who cares. I love to hear the little things, and that is what I strive for. Rhythm acoustic in the left channel only? double the rhythm acoustic and place it a little farther over in the right channel also? its shit like that that makes me giddy about production...then i sit in my studio and rip my hair out over a stupid drum sound. The over all creation is just something to be loved. If I had to recommend just ONE song to explain how M.Ward makes it all sound easy, I recommend "Here Comes The Sun Again" - Buy it. This song is so perfectly written, and to top it off, it has the most tasteful and witty tribute to George Harrison I've ever heard (Listen closely to the guitar towards the end.)
SO...in closing. Matt Ward is the best kept secret in the business. Buy his stuff, say hi at his shows and tell him I need a producer...Spelled S-U-C-I-C-H Pronounced Sue-Sitch
"uh huh...mmm hmmm...gonna get along without you now" - Milton Kellem (originally recorded by Skeeter Davis 1951, most recently recorded by...yep, you guessed it - Frank Stallone.)
COME OUT TO MY SHOW AT BOWERY ELECTRIC THURSDAY NIGHT! show starts at 8pm - Tell Your Friends!!!
matt would like to thank Norm MacDonald & The Golden Girls for their comedic influence on this post.