Review #2 (and a quick apology)

Dearest readers,

Regrettably, I was unable to make my post on Tuesday due to some unforeseen circumstances that were beyond my control. I realize, however, that this is a blog for your enjoyment, so I'll keep the apology to a minimum.

So, you know, sorry.

I did, however, manage to see The Dark Knight, the newest in the crusades of a man who dresses up like a man-bat thing and tries to thwart crime, three times in twenty four hours. I'm not incredibly proud of that, though I will admit that I only paid for it once. It's a good thing to have friends in high places (more appropriately, people that work at movie theaters). I'm sure most of you will go see it, so I won't sit here and tell you why it was a movie chock full of bad-assery, you'll all find out. Do yourselves a favor and contribute to the film that will bring down Spider Man 3 from the highest grossing 3-day weekend column. It's your duty, because, seriously, try to tell me that Toby McGuire is HALF the man that Christian Bale is. You can't. You just can not.

Having said that, I will share with you the review that was supposed to be posted on Tuesday.

Matt Pryor, “Confidence Man”
Due out on July 29, 2008
Via Vagrant Records

Track Listing
01. A Totally New Year
02. Loralai
03. Still, There’s A Light04. When The World Stops Turning
05. I’m Sorry, Stephan
06. We’ll Be Fine
07. Confidence Man
08. I Wouldn’t Change A Thing
09. Only
10. Dear Lover
11. Lovers Who Have Lost Their Cause
12. Where Did I Go Wrong
13. On How Our Paths Differ
14. Who Do You Think You Are
15. It Ends Here

When The Get Up Kids announced that they were disbanding 2005, an entire generation of music listeners, collectively, had their hearts broken. I, just as selfishly as most, without even putting an ear to the plethora of music that rose from their ashes, immediately wrote all of it off, claiming “this will never be as good as The Get Up Kids.” I eventually realized that it was time for me to grow up, and the truth about the whole operation was, ironically, that the members had been moving apart and growing up, themselves. A few had big career moves to make (for one, James Dewees, former Get Up Kids keyboardist getting the opportunity to tour as My Chemical Romance’s keyboard player), new music endeavors (former guitarist Jim Suptic’s Blackpool Lights, who a while ago had the honor of touring with the iconic Social Distortion), and, if anything else, families to go home to. Matt Pryor, the primary vocalist and guitar player for The Get Up Kids had a few projects to lean back on that were established and enjoyed a nice amount of success when his former band called it a day.

During Pryor’s tenure in The Get Up Kids, most fans recognized his unplugged (for the most part) project,The New Amsterdams, which ultimately served as the precursor to his newest musical exposé which he debuted simply under his own name entitled Confidence Man. Pryor’s latest Vagrant Records release explores his unbridled wisdom of songwriting, but unveiling a new side of himself in the process. Since his early days in Kansas fronting his legendary “emo” band, his penchant for writing infectious songs, coupled with memorable lyrics that provide a telescopic view into his life only fortified and like wine, grew better with age. Let us, however, divulge from thinking of Mr. Pryor as the young man belting out the lyrics to teenage angst anthems, and think of him as the traveled father and husband with a wealth of experience to share with the world through his music.

Confidence Man, which Pryor recorded entirely at his home studio in Lawrence, Kansas, boasts an impressive fifteen tracks, which are all performed and tracked solely by him, unlike his previous releases with The New Amsterdams. The CD’s first two tracks set the tone for the rest of the record. The songs, as lush and emotive as they are, turn the lens around for a more esoteric look at the world around him. The opening track, “A Totally New Year”, starts with an organ and slips right into a shaker and hand clap groove as Pryor sings about new beginnings with his own feathery texture. The next track, “Loralai”, follows an odd story in which he says goodbye to an old love, who happens to steal his car. Pryor’s only guide in the tune, a lone acoustic guitar finger picking away at a few chords, paints a pretty color over the song’s playful attitude.

Some would say the album is fairly stripped down, though there’s quite a bit of interesting sounds on the record. Pryor plucks away on a banjo on “Still, There’s A Light”, blows a harmonica melody over “When The World Stops Turning.”, and even a little bit of electric guitar on the chilling “Where Did I Go Wrong.” The title track, “Confidence Man”, aside from being the closest tune on the record to being layered with a full band, explores the truth of finding strength in another, even when the pillars can sometimes crack and crumble. Prior even sinks his teeth into the unsteady, as he sings “We all have a dark side that is ours, and ours alone” in “We’ll Be Fine”, he leaves no metaphysical stone unturned. Each work leaves Pryor unhinged for his listeners, a quality both intriguing and rewarding.

The album is refreshing because it’s a perfect display of a songwriter that can strip away the production, the fancy synthesizers, the triggered sounds, and still waltz through the process with a record that has virtually put on wax what has gone in. Records like Confidence Man become classics because of their depth; it’s almost like a craft, an art, even. Pryor’s voice has always evoked calm in me, and this record, even more so, will let you drift away to whatever tranquility and peace are to you, whether it’s a rocking chair on the porch somewhere in the Midwest, or sitting on a beach on the coast of California, Confidence Man will breathe life into your soul. The record is a must – because you owe it to yourself to get there.

Catch Matt Pryor performing songs from Confidence Man on tour through the summer with just a guitar, alongside Chris Conley of Saves The Day and, on select dates, Kevin Devine.

For Fans Of
The New Amsterdams, Kevin Devine, Mark Kozelek, Neil Young (maybe, lol)

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