Bullz-Eye Home
Movie DVDs
Music DVDs
Celebrity Babes
The Opposite Sex
Stuff to Buy
Premium Members

Join  Enter

Cool Links

All Pro Models
Premium Hollywood
EatSleepDrink Music
Sports Blog
Cleveland Sports
Political Humor

CD Reviews: Review of Guinea Pigs On A Scaffold by Matt Munhall
Medsker Home / CD Reviews Home / Entertainment Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Matt Munhall: Guinea Pigs On A Scaffold (Effort Records 2005)

Buy your copy now from mattmunhall.com
Note: Matt Munhall is playing a concert Thursday December 22 at the King Arts Complex Theatre, Columbus OH. Tickets are a mere $15, and a good time is guaranteed for all. Henry the Horse, however, will not be dancing the waltz.

This is where I shamelessly abuse my position as editor, go all Jason Thompson-first-person on you and tell you about a guy I know named Matt Munhall. He’s young, a mere 23, but he’s an old soul. I met him a couple years ago between sets at Smith & Wollensky, where he appeased the drunken, chain smoking masses by banging out typical piano man fare from the Beatles to Elton John and Billy Joel, sneaking a Ben Folds song in here or there when he could. The voice was a little off, but it was louder than God in that bar; I’m guessing he probably couldn’t hear himself. He told me later that he was finishing up a record. I wished him the best of luck, but without hearing any originals in his set, kept my expectations low.

Boy, did he show me. Released in 2003, Over and Over Again was startlingly complex, the kind of stuff that Randy Newman – not coincidentally, one of Munhall’s idols – would be proud to call his own. Dylan didn’t have anything to worry about in terms of lyrical prowess, but the song “Breathe” could have been recorded in the same sessions as “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” provided that Brian Wilson happened to pop in and add a few lines in the break. The album even had a piano solo that would give George Winston pause. Pretty heavy stuff for such a young Turk.

Well, it’s two years later, and in the time since his last album, Matt has toured all over Europe, watched a girl cut his heart cut out of his chest with a dull spoon, and discovered the aforementioned Dylan, which led to Munhall stepping up his lyrical game and experimenting with, horrors, a guitar. The end result of those three seismic events, Guinea Pigs on a Scaffold, will surprise anyone expecting more piano jazz. There is a strong alt-country influence on this record, with six of the 16 tracks boasting pedal steel, violin, or both. “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics,” in fact, is straight-up bluegrass, which is the perfect style for this, um, damning song about how “all the kids are on the drugs approved by the FDA / Drugs that steal a thousand thoughts from the kids each day.” Such are the thoughts of a man who’s just come back from, ahem, Amsterdam.

Matt’s best shot at the brass ring is with the leadoff track “Obvious.” Propelled by a bouncy piano line and some more of those Brian Wilson vocals, “Obvious” is the kind of thing Ben Folds would write if he weren’t so busy being a miserable old codger. The wounds from the breakup are on display here, where he tells his lady friend “you were just another high school girl, afraid to screw up / just too scared of the world, too scared to screw up.” He kicks himself later for getting into this mess: “Could I be any more obvious? Baby, I’ll be alright / Don’t think I’ll stay tonight.”

If there is anything holding Guinea Pigs back, it’s the length. There are 16 tracks here, and it feels every bit like a 16-track album, meaning that three or four should have been held over for the next record. However, since there may not be a next record (Munhall paid for this album himself, so it’s not like he’s spending Geffen’s money getting high for three years like the Stone Roses once did), it’s understandable why he laid it all out on the table here.

And that is why I’m pimping his show in Columbus next week so heavily. Dude needs butts in the seats in a big, big way, and the show, featuring some supremely talented local legends as his backing band, should be a real treat. Matt’s going for it in ways that most musicians wouldn’t even dare to dream about, and you have to admire his decision to throw a big, fancy grown-up party instead of playing one or two of his songs in between a bunch of Bright Eyes covers at a coffee shop. In fact, he just recorded an appearance on Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston’s PBS show, where he plays an original (“Peach Moon,” from Over and Over Again), a Randy Newman cover, natch, and some traditionals. This is why, if you live in the Columbus area, you should check out this show, so you can say that you saw him before he was a star. Bragging rights rule, you know it’s true.

~David Medsker




Bullz-Eye.com : Feedback - Link to Us  - About B-E - FAQ - Advertise with Us

© 2000-2005 Bullz-Eye.com®, All Rights Reserved. Contact the webmaster with questions or comments. Privacy Policy and Site Map