CD Review of Hospital Music by Matthew Good
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The Afghan Whigs, Feeder, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s
Matthew Good:
Hospital Music

Reviewed by Mike Farley


ince Canada’s Matthew Good shed “Band” from his moniker, he’s stripped away a lot of the razor-like edge that made his music so utterly compelling. Still, Good continues to prove that it’s the songs that drive this or any other musical project, and he’s back with his first release in three years, Hospital Music. The title is fitting because Good tends to choose depressing, if not morbid, subject matter. In addition, the dude also has a knack for making guitars, even the acoustic ones, sound like they are the messengers of some really awful news – and the natural vibrato in his subtle but powerful vocal helps that cause as well.

It’s hard to believe Good’s label let him start off this collection with a nine-minute song, but they did, as “Champions of Nothing” kicks things off with a slow, pulsing, dark beauty that sets the tone for the record. “Metal Airplanes” and “99% of Us is Failure” will remind you of Good’s stunning MGB album from 1999, Beautiful Midnight, especially the layered harmonies on the latter. “Born Losers” and “The Boy Come Home” are about as commercial-sounding as Good gets, with large hooks that help the songs approach something like optimism. “Girl Wedged under the Front of a Firebird” is a classic example of how this singer/songwriter can take a horrible visual and make the audio even more disturbing, complete with police radio sound effects. Toward the end, you’ve got the best track of all, a rocking gem called “I’m Not a Window,” as well as an absolutely stunning and surprising cover of the Dead Kennedy’s “Moon over Marin.”

Matthew Good doesn’t pull any punches – he simply writes music that is great for a rainy day, for helping you deal with a breakup, or for putting your Goth girlfriend in the kind of mood….well, you get the idea. It’s just dark, yet beautifully melodic alternative rock that gets its point across with awkward titles and lyrical messages. Matthew Good is here to stay. Let’s just hope that none of us give him any inspiration to write a song.

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