Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mark Matos & Os Beaches to release "Words of the Knife" on November 17, 2009!

A brilliant flash of southwestern pop-psych shines off the Bay with the release of Words of the Knife, the first slice from Mark Matos and Os Beaches, a group of Mission District veterans who might be insulted if you called it a debut. Like the neighborhood the band calls home, Words of the Knife is a record of hybrid bloodlines. Tucson-flavored pop songs meld with the sun-baked chords and beats of 70s Tropicalia and sleepwalks through mirrored and smoky 1970’s rock venues − every genre that emerges here emerges to be shredded and combined. Led by Bay Area native son Mark Matos − main man behind anarcho-popslingers Campo Bravo − Os Beaches is a collection of regulars of the bars, stages and alleys of fog city, who teamed up with Tim Mooney’s Closer Studios and longtime American Music Club collaborator Eric Moffat to reinforce the myth that the San Francisco psych scene is one epic jam and to make you jealous.

Words of the Knife is evidence of a songwriter and performer pushing himself beyond the known territory of the personal, and into the mysteries and abstractions of the collective. Matos deals, in a voice remarkable for its lack of affect: half-sung, easy and versatile and honest, invoking Skip Spence, Jim Carroll, and Steve Malkmus, about love and leaving, loss and revolution, and drunken, broken, undying hope. It has been a long road back home for Matos, who left the Bay Area a decade ago to jump trains and learn life and music in the American Wilderness: Deep in Alaska and the Florida Keys, cold in Boston Squats, among slack-key players in Hawaii, and as an active force in the lo-fi scene of Tucson, where he began playing as Campo Bravo among the likes of Golden Boots, Howe Gelb, and Andrew Jackson Jihad. Matos’ maturity shows in the subtleties: a consistent shimmer of optimism, phrasing reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and Caetano Veloso, and song structures that tend toward the obscure and surprising. The structure of the album itself is a journey, beginning in tight, melodic pop mode and moving toward darker and sadder themes, sparser arrangements, and melancholy sounds. There is intention in the sequence, a movement from the basic conditions of living as a lover and an artist, to the lonelier and more ragged facts of being a conscious young American: praying for revolution in the face of apathy, frustration with hustling, poverty, growing old, and a stubbornness to stay sane, aware, and ambitious, even hopeful, in spite of it all.

While comparisons to Gram Parsons-era Byrds, Os Mutantes, and the Pavement of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain are inevitable and accurate, Mark Matos & Os Beaches strike deepest when channeling the darker, more spacious contemporaries of those influences: the mournful notes of Graham Nash during Wild Tales and Big Star’s 3rd, the loose time of Satwa and early Gal Costa, the slack, glum coolness of Gastr del Sol and Giant Sand. It is a record that strikes deep for its young label, the very exciting Porto Franco Records, whose objective is to support, distribute and document this rich moment in the musical history of the Mission District, giving the artists there a chance to survive by doing what they are supposed to do. Words of the Knife from Mark Matos & Os Beaches is a window into exactly what is happening in San Francisco right now – a renaissance of independent music spanning all genres. That is why it is essential to any fan of rock and roll.

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