After a four year absence, Matt Sharp returns to the music world as a solo artist, emerging with a sparse, acoustic four song EP titled, Puckett's Versus The Country Boy. Hidden away in a small house deep in the countryside of Leipers Fork, TN Matt removed himself to do some thinking, writing and recording for what has evolved into the EP and soon to follow debut solo album.
The sound of his solo work is a big departure from what he is most well known for. The enigmatic front man for The Rentals (Maverick Records) released the seminal lo-fi new wave album Return of The Rentals in 1995, which featured the modern rock radio smash, "Friends Of P." and the critically acclaimed cult-classic Seven More Minutes. The sophomore effort was a glamorous affair of epic ballads and hedonistic celebrations, written and recorded in Barcelona and London, respectively. These were collaborations with some of Europe's most well known artists, such as Damon Albarn (Blur), Tim Wheeler (Ash), and countless others from Brit pop's royalty. The record was completed in a whirlwind of travel and emotion, bouncing from continent to continent in the haze of a passionate scene.
"at that time, I thought I had all the answers, trying to create a tower of song, monuments of sound, with very dense arrangements, a billion tracks of synthesizers, a zillion layers of female harmonies, all to celebrate this friend of mine and to let her know she meant the world to me, but somehow in the midst of all that production and chaos my message got lost in the machine"- Matt Sharp (2003)
Gone are the moog synthesizers, female harmonies and coke-bottle glasses.
The new music unfolds like a late night conversation with a long lost friend.
Central to his musical life now are his two main collaborators, Greg Brown (not to be confused with the folk singer of the same name) and ambient artist Josh Hager. Josh sets the tone of the new material with ghostly sounds that lay under the record's sparse arrangements, giving the music it's contemplative and almost haunting mood. Greg Brown's guitar brings to the record a rustic melodic sense with an authentic American voice.
Beyond that, Matt is probably best remembered as the charismatic founding member of WEEZER (whose bass playing was their heart and falsetto vocals their soul) in 1992. Living through the pandemonium and geek sheek phenomena that was the Blue Album (over 4 million copies sold in the U.S. alone), and one of the most influential, landmark records of the last decade, 1997's Pinkerton (rated number 16 by readers of Rolling Stone in a list of the greatest rock-n-roll records of all time), Matt and the group quietly parted ways sometime in 1998. Leaving the pop life behind, Matt found himself hold up in a small country house, far away from outside influences, without television or radio. The wide open fields of the Tennessee landscape serve as back drop for songs like "Goodbye West Coast", in which the author sings of returning home to visit his best friend's grave. The spiritual tone of lap steel, piano and acoustic guitar echo around the private words that read like a diary. The lyrics, instead of presuming to know all the answers, start to ask a lot of questions that get a dialog rolling.
Before the release of the record on the independent Portland label, Matt, Josh and Greg set out on the road to bring the music as directly and honestly as possible to their fans. Breaking down the barriers between performer and audience, Matt has asked everyone to bring a pillow and sit as close as possible with the band. Depending on the evening, the intimate shows can move from somber mood to light hearted storytelling.
The LA Weekly wrote: " Having just recorded an ambient eponymous solo album in the hermetic Leipers Fork, TN. The reclusive ex-WEEZER bassist and Rentals founder shines most brilliantly in the dark, just left of the spotlight. This is edgy songwriting from a wine flushed inner depth".
Time Out New York wrote: "As bassist and co-writer on WEEZER's first two albums, Matt Sharp supplied much of the vitality that made the group so refreshing. And as the frontman for the Rentals, he perfected the syn-thesis of crunchy pop melodies and mournful lyrics that were his previous band's stock and trade. Is it foolish to bemoan an artist's evolution ? Absolutely. As they've matured, many great pop craftsman - from Nick Lowe to Alex Chilton - have embraced a rootsier approach, sometimes with stellar results. Sharp has explained that he's merely trying to purify his work, citing The Rentals' lush production as an unnecessary barrier between songwriter and listener. Maybe, but what a wondrous barrier it was."