Hailing from Ballarat in regional Victoria, a town notorious for bitterly cold winters and clinging to the past, Matheson have burst out of hibernation to release a cracking
The 11 songs showcase the songwriting talents and world-class vocals of Aaron Matthews as he traverses through a musical landscape backed by his travelling companions and impeccable rhythm section, made up by Mark Perry on bass and Stevie G. Martin behind the drums.
Sometimes they travel at full-speed, as heard in opening track ‘Let the Satellites Fall” with its driving drums, weaving bass lines and Matthews’ vocals floating over the top. At other times they slow right down to soak up their environs. The perfect example of this is ‘Safe for Now’, one of the most eloquent and beautiful political statements you are likely to hear, with its questioning of our political leader’s continuing involvement in a war that is happening on the other side of the world. This underlying darkness is a consistent theme throughout the album – what superficially seems to be a slow-building ballad – peels open to reveal a crime of passion on ‘She was from the Country.’
‘These are my Horses’ is the sound of a confident band that knows how to hook in the listener with memorable choruses, sweet melodies and great storytelling. Matthews’ voice leaves you grasping for comparison. But it is the pure quality, and perhaps the disbelief that it could come forth from small-town Australia, that may warrant the questioning.
Matheson’s latest opus, These Are My Horses is set for release in April 2010 through Dust Devil Music. Recorded with Cam McKenzie (Horsehead, Mark Seymour, Things Of Stone And Wood) in a handful of sessions at Eastern Bloc Studios & Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne, as well as McKenzie’s Station Place studio, the band have risen like a phoenix from the ashes of the alt country tag into unchartered, adventurous folk pop streams of consciousness.
Atmospheric balladry builds to rising crescendos here. And there. And everywhere in between on These Are My Horses. There’s a haunting, a longing in the vocal with solid rhythms that evoke lashings of indie pop, and the finest granules of roots-based whip twang, accessible to many the music fan. You can’t pigeonhole the sound. The record simply seeping into the subconscious, such is its effortless, ethereal touch. The deepest, foghorn of vocals are on display from the bands voice-box and guitarist Aaron James Matthews, whose lungs are as strong as an ox in rousing chorus breaks yet tender as its calf in the verse flow.
These Are My Horses has a structured yet weightless feel. The mood akin to a slow-burn passing of the seasons. ‘Safe For Now’ and ‘River & The Sun’ are delicate and immediate ditties. Yet the band quickly turns that on its head through powerful numbers like ‘Let the Satellites Fall’ and ‘I Was Her Man’. Matthews’ lyrical poetry conjuring images of Colonial Australia on ’1859′, and nights spent in alcohol-soaked bars on ‘Mary Lynn’. From roots inspired waltzes and straight-up, riff-laden rockers, the record’s intimate yet sprawling narrative echoes around the expansive countryside it roams across. Drunk on horseback. Riding towards camp. Vengeful, yet filled with remorse. A tenderness you can touch. A taming of the wild beast.
On bass, Markus Perry weaves a wonderful low-end tapestry upon which the guitars float. Whilst Stevie G Martin’s work behind the drum kit helps provide a light and a shade, allowing the rockers to rock and the rollers to roll. With guest guitars by Cam McKenzie and Dan Houlihan, as well as lush keyboards and backing vocals provided by Yuko Nishiyama, Matheson’s These Are My Horses is a velvet sledgehammer of a record, best enjoyed with a cold lager in hand and rolled cigarette at your fingertips.
These Are My Horses.
This is Matheson.
– Nick Argyriou