Letting the 1970s take the lead on their latest project, The Matthew Shadley Band has released their newest record 1970 Something. It took the band less than a year to complete as it follows the 2022 release Emerald, which was their comeback album after a fourteen-year hiatus.
The 1970s are a significant decade of music for Matthew Shadley Brauer, with him sharing, “My earliest musical memories occurred in the 1970s and have informed every musical direction I’ve ever taken. This album has a harder edge to it, but I think it’s consistent with most of my previous endeavors.”
The album’s bookends dive into more of a progressive rock sound. Purely instrumental tracks that paint the world at the start and allow the listener to sit back and think at the end. The record’s opener “Panorama” has an epic and slow build, before launching into a unique mix of flute and drum. The two help lean into more of a psychedelic and trippy sound, which is perfect to open up this story. Brauer also plays many of the instruments on the record, so the variety of instruments he chose is both impressive and shows off his talents. “Intrigue at the Disco” has a name that describes the track to a tee. The sound has an overall investigative feel throughout with the synths and guitar really contributing to the vibe.
Two tracks on the album are covers of classic 70s songs like “In The Street” by Big Star and “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” by Steely Dan. The two tracks blend nicely with the original songs and Brauer does an excellent job with matching these songs to his harder rock sound. If a listener is unfamiliar with these songs, they may just assume Brauer wrote them himself. They were excellent choices for the record and proves again Brauer has an expert ear for the sound he is in.
The two standouts on the project were “I’m Alright” and “Heavy Traffic.” “I’m Alright” captures that carefree feeling of never wanting to grow up and falling in love in a way that keeps you from being a “clown” or “fool.” The use of cowbell and drums adds fun movement to the song. It is definitely one that would be fun at live shows to dance your cares away. Brauer’s voice and writing make the song feel real and transport you to a basement in the 70s (even if you’ve never been to one!)
“Heavy Traffic” accepts living where you are. Singing “Need a better foothold to see the light,” acknowledging where you are but arguing why the fight is worth it. Lyrically, this is Brauer’s strongest and contemplates what life is in an upbeat way. The guitars roar next to Brauer’s uncertain voice – as he only wishes to dream and not face reality. The moody guitar solo adds the necessary grit to match the underlying tone. Brauer captures something very special in just 4 minutes, making this a personal standout.
Overall, the album is very relatable and fun. The Matthew Shadley Band is astonishing and Brauer’s playing and writing will make listeners want to return to this album again and again. It combines all the best qualities of 70s music, from trippy instrumentals, personal inspirations, and well thought out lyrics. Go listen to 1970 Something from front to back!
Written by Katie Power
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