Our 100 Words Or Less Podcast with host Ray Harkins is back with March Sadness legend Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids. Ray and Matt discuss balancing road life and family life, age gaps, and selling out.
by Jason Stives, edited by Erik van Rheenen
Music laced with humor is always a difficult thing to take seriously, but it’s something that is greatly appreciated for entertainment value and a certain level of craft. James Dewees and his alter ego, Reggie and the Full Effect, have always been able to let the humor bleed through the cracks of personal and sometimes very deep songwriting. For the last five years, this project has laid dormant due to other commitments and for some the less than stellar reception of the band’s last effort 2008’s dark, addiction-themed Last Stop: Crappy Town. Although this reviewer more than commended the depth and risk that was taken on it, it was a very dark corner of Dewees’ life that spawned it and was a rather tough pill to swallow.
So it’s no surprise that Dewees decided to return Reggie to the good old days with his sixth studio release, No Country for Old Musicians. It’s rather fitting that the title and some of the subsequent album tracks, like the Country Bear Jamboree intro and Django Unchained styling of “Guerrera,” echo an Old West feel. Much of the tongue-in-cheek music Dewees is known for feels like the music of its time (in this case the music of the mid 2000s). However, No Country for Old Musicians feels like a traditional Reggie record despite being a bit of a retread in style and growth.
All the catchy choruses and rather straight-laced rockers are here. “Super Croc vs. Mega Doosh” adds the humorous flavor to its title that masks a great Reggie track launching into basic punk dynamics of fastness, furiousness, and painlessness. The track that follows, the Wheatus-tinged “37,” with its chorus of “la la la’s,” makes it easy to remember that, three tracks in, everything is on the right track. “Revenge Is a Dish Best Served at Park Chan-Wook’s House” is another tremendous highlight, fusing Dewees’ signature synth chords with a chugging guitar riff over top of his spiteful lyrics and nasally vocal projections.
by Jason Stives, edited by Erik van Rheenen
The Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor has spent the past decade devoting almost every year to creating new music. Between fronting the iconic emo band and his own folk-infused act the New Amsterdams, he has released no less than three solo efforts in the past five years, making it difficult to identify him with just one outfit. Pryor bleeds a level of musicianship and constant output that many don’t serve up, leaving it impossible to deem one sole release of his as a side project. Wrist Slitter, the fifth LP under his own name, is a vibrant splash of nineties fuzz rock accented by the folk sensibilities he has practiced since the early 2000s.
If there is one thing that Pryor’s labor displays constantly, it’s the laid back breeziness that comes from his voice which is all nerves and a hint of twitchiness that only youth can harness. His 30 something demeanor is no match for the ageless quiver that he lashes out on “The House Hears Everything” and “Kinda Go to Pieces,” songs that piston at record rates, harkening back to his emo roots. Never braking too hard or, for that matter, slowing down, all the key influences of his career pepper the record. As a fan of nineties alt favorites like Superchunk and Braid, this is an album that would have felt right at home as a release in between TGUK’s Something to Write Home About and On A Wire, an effort that displays continuous learning and longevity through maturation.
Pryor seldom allows the tracks to overstay their welcome, and for the most part, no song drags beyond the three and a half minute mark. Even when tracks take on a style reminiscent of a New Amsterdams’ track, like they do on the string quartet imbued “As Perfect As We’ll Ever Be,” it’s punctual and straight to the point with no meandering. There is no time to really mess around, and this is where 18 years of constant output shines brightly in his work.
by Brittany Oblak, edited by Erik van Rheenen
The EP from the Matt Pryor and James Dewees emo powerhouse duo might not even be eight minutes long, but you know the saying: “It’s not quality but quantity.” That statement is more than applicable here.
The first track, “I Can Be So Cold,” is brought in with a noisy, static synth and staccato piano chords that pull listeners into the song immediately. Almost instantly, we’re met by Matt Pryor’s familiar vocals singing, “Call this my absolution/ Call it what you want.” The song really picks up its pace when the chorus kicks in, intensifying not only instrumentally but as well as with Pryor’s voice as he sings, “I can be so cold,” resonating over everything.
“Failing You,” the song second up to bat, could easily be passed off as a Get Up Kids song that got lost somewhere along the way and was found again and put on this album. Everything from the instruments (the track’s percussion, especially), to the overall manner of Pryor’s vocals, and even the lyrics (“Shiver and shutter and I fall to the floor trying, and I’m dying, failing you, I’m failing you, failing you every time your patience is just wasted”) are reminiscent of The Get Up Kids. Especially noticeable when the chorus rolls in, this song sounds like a long lost B-side to Something To Write Home About.