Category: Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet – 100% Fun

ARTIST: Matthew Sweet 220px-MatthewSweet100Fun

TITLE:  100% Fun

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #65

SINGLES: We’re the Same (#113, #34 Modern Rock), Sick of Myself (#58, #13 Mainstream Rock, #2 Modern Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Everything Changes.

LINEUP: Matthew Sweet, Robert Quine, Richard Lloyd, Greg Leisz, Stuart Johnson, Ric Menck, Brendan O’Brien

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Consolidating his successes, and reining in his experimentalism, Sweet creates a perfectly fine album that really doesn’t take any chances with his formula.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Full of hooks, melodies you can sing, and guitar lines you can air to, 100% Fun is where Sweet gets into a formula. It’s a winning formula, but it’s a formula nonetheless.

Gone are the some of the chances he took on sound and instrumentation in his past two releases, and here he goes either for the hook laden rock song or the hook laden ballad. Again, nothing wrong at all, but it seems….safe.

It’s a good listen, and many songs are excellent. I just wish Sweet had moved forward instead of consolidating himself into a certain sound.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The song “Everything Changes” was in the movie The Babysitters Club.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two extra cuts in Japan.

 

GRADE: B+: It’s really good, but safe.

Matthew Sweet – Son of Altered Beast

ARTIST: Matthew Sweet 220px-Mssonofalteredbeast

TITLE:  Son of Altered Beast

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Devil with the Green Eyes was the cut it was promoting.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Live versions of four cuts from his past two albums.

LINEUP: Matthew Sweet, Richard Lloyd, Will Rigby, Robert Quine, Greg Leisz, Pete Thomas, Fred Maher, Tony Marisco

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Live versions of favorites from his last two albums, and a couple of new-ish cuts backing a remix of the current single.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Matthew Sweet knows there’s a difference between the studio and playing live. Instead of painstakingly re-creating his studio sound, he treats live shows as a way to re-discover his songs and play around with the arrangements.

This EP is worth taking a listen to, yet it makes you yearn for a full length Sweet live album from this era. The outtakes are so-so (as most outtakes are), and the remix of the single “Devil with the Green Eyes” is superfluous. It’s all too brief, and just whets your appetite.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The live guitarists were Richard Lloyd and Greg Leisz. Quine was on the outtakes.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There’s a special Japanese version with some additional outtakes.

GRADE: B: The live cuts make this worth a stream if you’re a Sweet fan, otherwise it’s not that necessary.

Matthew Sweet – Altered Beast

ARTIST: Matthew Sweet 220px-MSweet_Altered
TITLE: Altered Beast
YEAR RELEASED: 1993
CHART ACTION: #75
SINGLES: The Ugly Truth (#35 Mainstream, #3 Modern Rock)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Time Capsule was also a video
LINEUP: Matthew Sweet, Richard Lloyd, Robert Quine, Ivan Julian, Ric Menck, Fred Maher, Greg Leisz and some famous folks contributing drums and keys
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Follow-up record to his sensational album is darker, moodier, but has a lot of great moments that shine through if you let them.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even though Girlfriend was recorded after somewhat trying circumstances, it still was a refreshing, mostly update record. Altered Beast feels like the darker hangover after the euphoria.

“Someone to Pull the Trigger”, “Devil with the Green Eyes”, “Ugly Truth” and others on the surface seem like downers – angry and / or sad. But there’s still the harmonies, the radiant guitar playing by Lloyd, Quine and Julian, and great, tuneful songwriting.

It took a while to really get this – some of the bleakness is hard to listen to. After a couple, three listens though, you get it and what Sweet was trying to do and say.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The clip in front of “Ugly Truth Rock” midway through is from Caligula – probably the best thing about that movie. (Don’t watch it unless you KNOW what’s going to happen…)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, he released a companion EP later that I’ll review next when he comes up. But…the CD had five different colors of cover if you’re into that. My CD had the purple one!

GRADE: A-: It’s sometimes hard to listen to and digest in one setting but there’s a lot of shining moments if you give it a chance.

Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend

ARTIST: Matthew Sweet Girlfriendmatthewsweet
TITLE: Girlfriend
YEAR RELEASED: 1991
CHART ACTION: #100, #1 Heatseekers
SINGLES: Divine Intervention (#23 Modern Rock), Girlfriend (#10 Mainstream Rock, #4 Modern Rock), I’ve Been Waiting (Video)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe some tracks were in soundtracks.
LINEUP: Matthew Sweet, Lloyd Cole, Robert Quine, Richard Lloyd, Ivan Julian, Greg Leisz, Fred Maher, Rick Menck (not on each track…)
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Album of the decade? Maybe, to my ears. It’s an outstanding collection of songs about love, loss and F-U to bad relationships.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Wow. Wow. Wow. The first time I heard this album I almost had a moment. Solid from 1-15, Sweet and his crack backing band (he assembled the right people for each song) rip through songs ranging from giddiness of new love (“I’ve Been Waiting”) to one of the biggest F-U to a former partner (“I Thought I Knew You”).

The harmonies (all by Sweet) are magical. The playing is great. If I had one complaint, it’s that there are a couple of cuts that don’t QUITE measure up to the rest. If he trimmed those, it would have been perfect. However, I think the sequencing may have been off if he did. It’s a pretty unified tale he’s telling.

It’s a go-to album for me for many moods. Even in the sad, or angry songs, there’s a joy and emotion. It’s like Sweet was exorcizing some demons, and it felt great.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The cover model is Tuesday Weld. Va-voom!

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with demos and some live cuts. As always, you can take or leave them, but hearing Sweet live is great.

GRADE: A+: I wavered between A and A+, because of the two cuts I don’t like as much. But, I then thought about how the sequencing would be off, so screw it, A+. Get this one.

Matthew Sweet – Earth

ARTIST: Matthew Sweet 220px-Matthew_Sweet_Earth
TITLE: Earth
YEAR RELEASED: 1989
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: None
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I really doubt it
LINEUP: Matthew Sweet, Robert Quine, Chris Stamey, Richard Lloyd, Gary Lucas, Ric Menck, Fred Maher, etc.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from the future power-pop maestro makes some strides in the Girlfriend direction.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sweet’s second album is pleasant enough, for sure. His sense of melody is there, and he uses his voice well in harmonies. He’s got some great musicians working with him, too.

The songs are decent enough. There’s nothing with a great hook or memorable lyrics as his later work. Like I said, it’s pleasant enough but man it needed a song with punch or something – it’s just nice dentist office music.

What’s odd is that there is no drummer credited. There’s programmers (Menck and Maher and Sweet) but no drums. Very 80’s, Matthew.

NOTES & MINUTAE: After this record stiffed, his second record company in three years dropped him, his marriage broke up and there was a flood in his studio. And how was your day.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, we’re lucky this is streaming. His debut is missing.

GRADE: C+- : The 80’s drums and slight songs trouble me a bit, but I’ll keep it around.