Folksinger/songwriter Matthew Heller’s self-titled breakthrough album brings together a wide variety of sounds and genres including folk, indie, and grunge.
Girl On The Go PDX
Matthew Heller a pianist and songwriter from Portland Or. has gracefully emerged with his self-titled new music release “Matthew Heller” with excellent reviews and eight inspiring songs surrounding his life, family and friends.
Our City Radio dot com
Two beings seem to be competing for Portland singer Matthew Heller's soul. One is a snarling, "Stick-it-to-the-Man" folk-blues-buzz-rocker who, despite all his rage, is still just slightly less angry than Billy Corgan, although Heller probably has more real reasons for his angst than his multi-platinum counterpart.
Rob Cullivan, The Portland Tribune
Matthew Heller is one of the more aggressive singer-songwriters to ever come upon the music scene. And yet for all his anti-establishment candor, "Girl Into a Rose" has the chops to emerge as a hit single, notable for its Billy Joel-skewed, piano-driven storytelling seasoned with a Gavin DeGraw quirk. Elsewhere is ‘Wicked Son’, an acid-blues rocker that can give Neil Young a run for his money in any decade.
About Matthew Heller
Singer-songwriter Matthew Heller’s rock n’ roll folk has the stories, the brave vulnerability, and the painful truths of traditional folk, but it’s just way, way louder. Heller’s unique blend of alt-rock catharsis and protest music messaging is potent and poignant. His latest, Invitation, is a stunning display of raw-nerve emotionality and fine songcraft with a broad dynamic palette that stretches from euphoric rock to introspective ballads.
“This is rock and roll for people who want to f%#@ up shit and break things,” he affirms. “We are the generation of divorce and post heroin-addicted 1990s suburban hipsters. My music is old time American country folk rock with brutal force.”
The Portland, Oregon-based artist has been favorably compared to the Smashing Pumpkins, the Pixies, Coldplay, and Modest Mouse. Like these artists, reviewers praise his fluidity with loud-soft dynamics. His commitment to social activism such as abolishing the death penalty, abolishing the use of lethal unmanned aerial drones, prison reform, and higher environmental regulations, and his bold introspection brings startling immediacy to this timeless aesthetic.
The Portland Tribune insightfully has said: “Two beings seem to be competing for Portland singer Matthew Heller's soul. One is a snarling, ‘Stick-it-to-the-Man’ folk-blues-buzz-rocker who, despite all his rage, is still just slightly less angry than Billy Corgan, although Heller probably has more real reasons for his angst than his multi-platinum counterpart.” Music Emissions gushed: “Matthew Heller is one of the more aggressive singer-songwriters to ever come upon the music scene. And yet for all his anti-establishment candor, has the chops to emerge with hit singles.”
“I’ve lived in the Mission district in San Francisco, in the Puerto Rican parts of Brooklyn, and in the South Side of Chicago. In Chicago I saw a man freeze to death outside,” Heller says. Invitation is a travelogue of these experiences and his own inner journeys.
There is a real album-oriented flow to Invitation, it’s expansively creative and emotionally broad. The feral roar of “Drone Strike” rallies against the military’s drone missile attacks with wooly guitars and infectious, kiss-off hooks. The song’s accompanying performance video is visceral and vibey, aptly representing the urgency and guts of the song with a captivating live-at-a-party performance. “Space Girl” swaggers along garage rock style, prurient and playful; fittingly, it’s accompanying video is endearingly clever and cheeky. The chillingly atmospheric “Howdy From Hades” is gorgeously mournful ballad on heroin addiction.
“Howdy From Hades,” along with the hard rocking “Father’s Son,” alludes to Heller’s tumultuous childhood. He grew up on a farm with a heroin-addicted mother who eventually succumbed to her demons. “There were a lot of scary people around,” he recalls. “I sometimes lived in the barn because I was too frightened to go in the house. People feel like it’s a sad story, but I’m not about letting that define me. I learned how to do everything myself, and it’s informed the approach I’ve taken with these records.”
Through the female character in “Howdy From Hades” he does reveal some painful insights from growing up. “That song is about a girl in NYC addicted to heroin. She would sometimes say she was coming by and I would wait for her for hours. It felt like I was reliving my childhood, waiting for someone to come by that never showed up.” Here Heller’s writing is poetic and blunt. He writes starkly with a lines like: “She said Detroit seems like a nice place to die, and if the drugs don't take me, and the saints wont save me, then I guess I'll just have to stare at the walls and cry, cry, cry.” And contrasts those lyrics with rich, stinging metaphorical prose like: “Drunk into a stupor, drunk into a haze, shot into a dark hole at the mouth of the bay, and as the river ran past me, there was nothing I could do or say, except I already sold my soul to the devil how much more can a man pay?”
The album was produced by David Pollock at Super Natural Sound in Oregon City. Pollock’s audio verite approach to production is warm, defined, and gritty, the result of vintage equipment, tracking to tape, and a desire to capture the sweaty organic feel of musicians in the moment. Invitation features contributions from Tango Alpha Tango’s Nathan Trueb, slide guitar on “Jaclyn Of Spades,” Shenandoah Davis, vocals on “Dismay King,” and Heller’s close friend Katie Belle Van Zandt, daughter of Townes Van Zandt, whose artwork graces the album cover.
“I am not an angry person,” he says reflecting on his work. “I’m just fighting against the biggest corporations, the NRA, the Army, the gun lobby, and Hollywood where they make movies that make guns look cool. I write songs that promote love.”