Matt Angus' Political Pop
by Christian Bauman, March 2004
When members of the Harlem Gospel Choir and Levon Helm lend voice to a white band from western New Jersey, you sit up and take notice. Soul, folk, blues, rock, gospel. Welcome to the world of Matt Angus and the Matt Angus Thing. "I call it roots music," Angus says. Call it eclectic, call it rockin', call it good. It takes form and takes a hold of listeners on the new release Political Pop.
These are seasoned players, and there's no mistaking that from the opening to the close. Solid rhythms, smoking guitars, fluid and graceful sound. And what about those politics? Nobody from New Jersey is ever shy about speaking their mind. Songs like "What You're Hearing" and "President's Son" capture a nationwide mood and feel right now. But even when it's not in your face, a listener here finds more to chew on than immediately meets the ear, especially on second and third listenings. The opening cut, "Brings You Down" (which, by the way, rocks on music alone), is a straightforward lyric on first listen, but takes on a new life in context of the album as a whole. Ignorance causing chaos, love without understanding. "Caught on to You" speaks from title alone. Names from the news find themselves in these songs -- Rachel Corrie, Timothy Thomas, places like Jenin over there and Folsom right here. And in the best tradition of Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash these are the forgotten who Angus sings about here, the downtrodden, those without voice of their own.
Matt Angus says his favorite line on the album is "I could spend one thousand words, one thousand ways, and never tell you how I feel" (from "Sweet"). Likewise, in what seems a thousand ways, this album sets to music what many of us are feeling right no -- about our lives, our relationships, our country.