Posts Tagged ‘Catspaw’

See the source image

Best known over the past 35 years or so as one of the champions of pervasive power pop, a sound and style heavily invested with a mix of melody and reverence for classic rock tradition, Matthew Sweet embraces edgier intents on “Catspaw”, his 15th album overall.

Mostly a solo affair, sans the famous collaborators he’s worked with in the past, it’s a lean, mean and gritty affair, one that bows to Sweet’s desire to establish himself as a lead guitarist fully capable of stepping to the instrumental fore. Although it doesn’t necessarily indicate some sort of insurgent attitude, songs such as “Coming Home,” “Blown Away” and “Challenge the Gods” do find him in darker domains, an arena mostly devoid of the lush arrangements that have marked Sweet’s more prominent efforts to date. There are exceptions—the billowy “Drifting,” the psychedelic strains of “Stars Explode” and “Parade of Lights,” and the Laurel Canyon like lilt that wafts through “Hold On Tight” in particular—but overall it’s a more pronounced approach that dominates the proceedings.

Sweet claims that the tone was dictated by his attempts to come to grips with the inevitably of aging and the belated onslaught of maturity. “I’m trying to get my head around getting older,” he remarks in the press release that accompanied the album. “I want to let go, I want to tell the ugly truth … I want to do all kinds of different things in my head and they really popped out in these songs.”

Sweet also reveals the fact that the title was borne from his struggle to reconcile himself with his own mortality infused with some obscure trivia gleaned from his childhood. “I really connected to the idea of the certain and deadly inevitable—the pounce. Don’t ever forget life is totally cruel and the catspaw is already coming down on you.”

Despite the fact that Catspaw was recorded entirely on his own, save drumming from longtime pal Ric Menck of Velvet Crush, and put together in his home studio prior to the pandemic, the album still manages to retain an emphatic edge while eschewing any hint of sadness or sobriety. It seems to be the next natural step in a career that’s always been capped by one accomplishment after another and brought him considerable regard in the process.

“What if the best of me isn’t good enough,” Sweet asks himself on the track fittingly titled “Best Of Me.” “What if the best of me isn’t me at all?” Judging from the results realized herein, Sweet’s clearly got no reason to worry.

See the source image

Matthew Sweet fans have something to look forward too on January 15th, the day his much-anticipated album “Catspaw” album is due out on Omnivore Recordings. Rather than wait for release day to get here, Sweet is bridging the gap between then and now with the release of his new single “Stars Explode” .

One hand washes the other. What goes around comes around. The cliches can be endless but in essence, that’s exactly how the new single’s title came to be.

“Recently, I heard a song called ’Matthew Sweet’ by a band from Chapel Hill, N.C. named The Stars Explode,” says Sweet from his home in Nebraska. “I was flattered and liked the song and their band name, so I decided to use it in my song ‘Stars Explode.”

While the name may have been a smiled volley, the song itself has nothing to do with the band. Instead, the alt-rock, singer songwriter’s hook heavy, radio ready song is set in the stars and built on sparkling guitars, and his signature stacked harmonies. Side note: while on a self-described, semi-permanent hiatus, the North Carolina rockers were pretty damn good and would have fit in fairly well with Matthew Sweet fans.

The music ‘arrived,’ so to speak, together with the title. I’ve always been interested in Space and that greater nature of things; I love the concept that “we are all stardust.” I explored that idea in the lyrics. ‘Stellar winds she comes riding upon / with a nebulous intent…’ The female character here is sort of a Mother Nature of the Cosmos—maybe the queen of the universe!

“The way I come in singing that repeated note in the first verse reminded me a little bit of something Neil Young might do melodically. I had a lot of fun with the lead guitars on this one too.” 

Though Sweet steps into the spotlight to take on the lead guitar duties, a first for him, that isn’t the only new territory he explores. With the exception of the excellent drumming by long time collaborator Ric Menck (Velvet Crush), Sweet handled the rest of the duties on Catspaw including Höfner bass, electric guitars and backing vocals. Even the recording and mixing was done at his beloved home studio, Black Squirrel Submarine.

Stars Explode · Matthew Sweet under exclusive license to Omnivore Recordings. Released on: 11th december 2020