Former Weezer bassist and MTV Buzz Clip band The Rentals' mastermind Matt Sharp ended his four-year, self-imposed hiatus from the music business last summer, releasing the critically acclaimed "Puckett's Versus the Country Boy" EP on Portland-based indie In Music We Trust Records.
After constant touring in support of the EP, Sharp is slated to release his self-titled, debut full-length May 18, 2004 on In Music We Trust Records.
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 evolved into "Puckett's Versus the Country Boy", and now the self-titled full-length.
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.". The Rentals' sophomore-release, "Seven More Minutes", followed in 1999 and became an instant cult favorite with its glamorous affair of epic ballads and hedonistic celebrations. It was written and recorded in Barcelona and London. It also contained 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 songs, monuments of sound, with very dense arrangement - 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 this production and chaos my message got lost in the machine "- Matt Sharp (2003)
Enter "Matt Sharp". 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, ex. Cake guitarist Greg Brown (not to be confused with the folk singer of the same name) and ambient/singer-songwriter artist Josh Hager. Hager 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, Sharp is probably best remembered as the charismatic founding member of multi-platinum band Weezer. Sharp's bass playing was their heart and his falsetto vocals their soul).
Living through the pandemonium and geek sheik phenomena that was the Blue Album (over 4 million copies sold in the U.S. alone). And one of the most influential and 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), Sharp and the group quietly parted ways sometime in 1998. In 1999, Sharp also decided to put The Rentals to rest.
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 backdrop 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.
Supporting the release of "Puckett's Versus the Country Boy" by touring relentlessly, first with friends, Hager and Brown, then boldly off on his own, headlining intimate evenings. Sharp brought the music as honestly as possible to the fans. Breaking down the barriers between performer and audience, Sharp asked everyone to bring a pillow and sit as close as possible to the band. Eventually last Fall Sharp took the opportunity to do supporting dates as well with good friends Tegan & Sara. Not only opening each night, joined by Tegan or Sara on a song here and there, but dusting off the old Rentals' Moog synthesizers, incorporating into Tegan & Sara's set.
Following the release of the self-titled full-length, Sharp will once again hit the road, again in a striping the songs bear with just warm vocals and an acoustic guitar. And, much like the tours in support of "Puckett's Versus the Country Boy", depending on the evening, the intimate shows can move from somber to light-hearted storytelling. Expect great songwriting, beautifully naked songs, and honest singing when you see Sharp live.
Don't want it on CD? Want it on vinyl?
You can order this record on vinyl (import, from Europe) at http://www.glitterhouse.com/index.asp?lang=e&mode=artinfo&submode=&id=36828&searchfor=&searchmode=0&pos=&wk=&rnd=0%2C6631586&s1=&s2=&incs=false. It inclues a different track order AND an unreleased song!