Matthew Shaw – Convenience
Burning Buildings Recordings (2005)
By Evan Edward Stewart
Do you remember watching those bad sci-fi movies about the future, with flying cars powered by thought? Did you hear the music? It was all computerized, with bad, contrived futuristic band names like ‘Microchip’ or ‘Rock-o-mat 2.3.’ Matthew Shaw’s EP, Convenience, sounds like it was made in 1983, but also tries to predict what Death Cab For Cutie would sound like if it came out in 2013. It’s some kind of laptop pop/singer songwriter/future indie. And it’s good.
Shaw creates a nice blend of 8-bit electronic riffs, raw-ish guitars, and under-produced, honest vocals. It’s nicely textured, with layers of vocals, different electronic beats, and some kind of countermelody all wrapped up on the bottom with a drum machine providing a nice, uncomplicated, glitchy beat.
The electronic parts are delightfully antiquated in their execution, sounding as though they’re being produced by an old 8-bit program, like Soundblaster, and is the kind heard emanating from a Nintendo cartridge. We’re rewarded for close listening, as they form nice layers and textures in the music. While one sequence moves along normally with the song, another goes off into simple arpeggios, nicely complementing the melody, not the irrelevant beeps and boops of recent albums like Radiohead’s Kid A.
The guitars are well-executed, if simple, but simplicity is part of the album’s charm. Seldom are they prominently featured, instead giving way to the synthesizers in nearly every song. Nor are they are ever in competition. They provide the roots of the chords, while the synthesizers flesh out the rest of the melody.
Convenience is a charming EP, with simple, effective melodies that lend themselves well to Shaw’s breathy voice and old-school sequencers. This is emo music for Atom and his Package refugees, Death Cab for Cutie from the future, or if Rocky Votolato was a robot. More importantly, it’s great, interesting music. – (7/10)