I recently received a promo email that talked about the latest LP from Atlanta singer Mattiel. I had never heard of this person, so i clicked the link to the video for her song Millionaire.
The video features a woman with harshly angular cheekbones dancing and singing, those images interspersed with pictures of a rodeo or something. As far as videos goes, it's cool i guess.
But the music! Mattiel has a heck of a voice, and she knows how to use her natural warble for emphasis, and she can really belt it out when she wants. Behind her she has an (unseen in the video and unlisted on BandCamp) band that are making some quality retro rock and roll. This is a powerful soul singer belting it out over a kind of garage rock band.
So i had to get a copy of the record. And the whole thing holds up.
The record starts with a droning, grinding, Western guitar and the drums a chugging brush. Over this Mattiel sings flatly, her voice warbly. It's a slightly eerie song called Til the Moment of Death.
They follow this up with Rescue You, the voice wavering intensely over a funky old timey guitar riff. She is forceful here, really belting it out while the guitar channels late bluesy VU and the drums are that flat thunking they used back then. This is an awesome and forceful tune.
The next tune flows along in the same vein, only en francais! Well, the chorus of Je Ne Me Connais Pas is in French, and the phrase means "I do not know myself" or "i do not know who i am". Anyway, there is a great bluesy solo here.
Mattiel speaks much of Food For Thought, only singing on the choruses. Instead of channeling the blues, in the middle of this one the guitarist gets his 80s on and turns in a new wavish solo. Radical!
Keys (maybe a xylophone or a sample thereof) tinkle along a chugging guitar on Keep The Change. I love this one, the forceful drum beat, the guitar, and her voice wailing away over it all. This is also one of the songs on here where she does not repeat the "verse1 chorus verse2 chorus verse2 chorus" formula that most of the songs follow. But that beat really makes it.
Millionaire is next, the song that introduced me to this band. So good.
Populonia is a nice chugging and grinding and soaring guitar tune. Her voice is nicely balanced, perhaps layered here with another warbling layer as a backup to her main vocal line.
On Blisters the band throws down at the honkytonk with a real old timey, swinging sound. There are female backing voices, which is a nice touch. And if they make a video for this, i hope she is wearing a poodle skirt and cowboy boots as she scoots around.
This music has hovered in the "retro" zone, and that's fine. But on Athlete, the band achieve a kind of minimal rock that reminds me of a Tarantino film. It's a nice groove.
Berlin Weekend is a crazy rollicking tune driven by an organ as she really bellows her lines. Another very retro garage rock tune. But on Heck Fire the band play early 1970s funk, her voice echoed and higher in pitch, which, along with the guitar line, really makes this a psychedelic early 70s funk song. Groovy.
And finally we wrap up the record with Long Division. This is a nicely swinging tune to wrap up the record.
I am impressed. In a way, Ms. Mattiel Brown reminds me of Shilpa Ray. Both have powerful voices and can really belt it out when they want to. Mattiel uses a lot more natural vocal tremolo than Shilpa does, and Mattiel's (uncredited) band tries hard to channel the early 1960s kind of rock sound, while Shilpa's band seems more 1990s indie rock. So maybe the comparison breaks down after a bit, but there is something here.
Anyway, this is a really good record and i am fascinated by what she is doing here. Now to track down the band in concert!