Suggested Listening ’20: Matt Moore< < Back to
What a year 2020 was! Since it is doubtful anyone even believes in linear time anymore, it seems fitting that WOUB Culture is rolling out our Suggested Listening feature in January (and February) instead of December. The world is a hard place, and aren’t we all so grateful to have music to make it a little more bearable!
Matt Moore spends 99.9% of his life in eastern Ohio between Athens, Belmont County and Cleveland. He works with nonprofits, small businesses, and artists and even runs an indie record label. Though it seems like years ago, he actually completed a successful tour in 2020 which ended at Donkey Coffee just days before DeWine’s first 2 p.m. press conference. For many along Ohio’s eastern edge, these shows were their last taste of live music before the shutdown.
“This year I gravitated toward songs that seem to be very “human” with fingerprints all over them. Covid changed the way my wife and I practice hospitality in our home, so these songs where I can hear fingers on the fretboards or the creaking of floorboards made it feel like the artists are in the room. Also, songs that are surreal or weird seemed to help me process the madness of such a wild year.” – Matt
Buck Meek – Pareidolia
While Buck technically only released a few singles in 2020 (leading up to his 2021 album) these tunes cracked wide open the deepening appreciation I already had for him. His songs and styling are peculiar and particular in the best way possible. Because of three songs on “Pareidolia” I journeyed back through Buck’s discography, imagined taking siestas in the soft Texas hayfields that seem to surround his lyrical narratives, and was first in line for pre-order of his new record on Keeled Scales.
In Three Words: Buoyant, Odd, Lovely
For Fans Of: Big Thief, Twain, Haley Heynderickx
In Kind – From A Star
Michigan native Tchad Cousins is a moody shapeshifter whose music slowly projects colorful tones around the listeners room like a prism hung in your south-facing window. From a star has experimental hints of bedroom pop, but leans more heavily toward the psychedelic and dreamy deconstructionist vibes of the ambient scene. With all of his patient chameleon morphing, In Kind somehow keeps my attention and sidesteps just at the moment where the album could become a little boring. It’s delayed gratification with these tracks and I love it.
In Three Words: Relaxed, Trippy, Groove
I’m a sucker for the neo-parlor bluegrass classical fusion that has been churning out of Chris Thile’s corner of the world. If there’s a town where this music grows wild, he’s probably the mayor. Anyway, This trio fronted by his consistent collaborator Aoife created a deeply moving and lyrically (semi-)surrealist suite that satisfied the darkest hollows of my little Appalachian heart. If you listen to this in the car, pull over to the side before it hits the 3:00 minute mark because what comes next is likely to careen you off the gravel road into the nearest creek bottom.
For Fans Of: Punch Brothers, Aoife O’Donovan, dusk in a damp valley
Sylvan Esso – Free Love
This record helped me do push-ups and jumping jacks between zoom calls while working from home this year.
Thad Kopec – Three Books
2020 was a prolific and defining year for this up and coming fellow out of Nashville. He released multiple albums which seem to reach out like an ornery plant into the sunlight. He keeps outgrowing the pot we put him in, and even more strangely, he grows a different fruit or flower every time we walk past. It’s delightful and fun and sincere and I’m along for the ride.
For Fans Of – S. Carey, Molly Parden, Devendra Banhart
Blithe Field – Hymn for Everyone
I was Spencer’s RA in Tiffin Hall on East Green a decade ago. It’s my only claim to fame and it will likely be on my headstone some day. Blithe Field (Spencer Radcliffe’s first, and farthest reaching project) continues to be one of my favorite artistic expressions because of Spencer’s knack for quietly pushing over the beige fabric cubicle walls of music “genre” and compositional expectation. Hymn for Everyone came silently and subversively this year after his 2018 Days Drift By made quite a splash. From the gently cascading piano that your church pew aunt would adore on JTEL, to avante-sampled modulating chirps that chatter inside a video game fog on He Was In The Clouds, Spencer does not disappoint. He experiments and documents it all with his own sort of aesthetic compass. I’m just grateful he allows others to share in this work.
For fans of : George Winston, David Lynch, Brian Eno
Lonely Pirate Committee – Everyday Ordinary
LPC dropped an incredible indie bedroom pop rock collection with computer-virus-themed artwork just in time for all of their touring aspirations and “first real record” dreams to be squished by the Covid. While habitating the same sonic realms as Alex G and company, Lonely Pirate Committee swing into a scene that’s become a little sleepy and void of creativity with a fresh and vibrant set of textures broadcasting some of the most hooky melodies you could ask for. This record would have travelled far in 2020, but I have no doubt this band of college students who bounce back and forth between Cleveland and Boston will be known on a national scale very soon.
For Fans Of: Alex G, Trace Mountains, LVL UP
Bahamas – Sad Hunk
This one came to me through a text recommendation from my father-in-law who saw him on the Good Morning America or one of those shows. I proceeded to cook many a dinner in my thermal socks and pandemic pants while dancing to these incredibly fun and tongue-in-cheek dad grooves.
Samantha Crain – A Small Death
Sam is a world-class songwriter and everyone from Stuart’s Opera House to Rolling Stone has agreed on that for over a decade. I was lucky enough to meet Sam during my Athens residency and even open shows for her. Her music and presence is brimming with earnest grace and a deep power. After her last album ventured leftward toward the punchy pop of Sharon Van Etten, A Small Death swings back on the pendulum. Lush with small sounds and acoustic nuances of the ASMR movement, this record serves as a perfect platform for Sam’s masterful lyricism and unparalleled voice. But my favorite things about it are 1. Samantha is quickly becoming one of my favorite producers and composers in the game, and on this one she led the project from top to bottom; and 2. she finally got the online audience her music deserves thanks to the Real Kind Records (just in time for touring revenue to disappear entirely).
3 Words: Hushed, Crooning, Audiophile
Soccer Mommy – color theory
Sometimes I feel like a pouty teenage girl ok?! Geez! Leave me alone! [slams door]
The Porter’s Gate – Justice Songs / Lament Songs
Loving good music and loving Christ has often led me far from what is known as “Christian music” on the radio. I grew up in the protestant hymnal with a lone piano undergirding the voices of coal miners, farmers and teachers – my childhood neighbors. A collection of song makers and artists came together this year to craft good music from and for the Church, and I think they made some great strides toward craftsmanship and our Christian belief.
Christian Lee Hutson – Beginners
This record got a lot of due attention in 2020, and for good reason. Hutson released several collections in the past with a perfect bedroom label, Trailer Fire Records, started by two OU grads. A few summers ago, Christian’s wry and brilliant songwriting captured the attention of Conor Oberst, Phoebe Bridgers and some other LA folk icons. When his former releases (which were certainly not as refined as Beginners) suddenly disappeared from streaming services along with most evidence of prior work, I figured something big was probably on the horizon. I still couldn’t have imagined how much Hutson’s writing, vocal delivery, and overall sonic palette had taken shape. Maybe the best “songwriter’s songwriter” record of the year. Perfect for depressed bedroom pandemic introspection.
For Fans Of: Ethan Gruska, Phoebe Bridgers, A Chilled Out Noah Gundersen
Water Liars – Roll On
The last album of a rock band that was sure to end in this sad bastard kinda way. It’s fitting, but I sure wish we could have Justin and the boys for a long while longer.
For Fans Of: Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, A.A. Bondy, sad southern dudes
Benny Yurco – You Are My Dreams
Benny seems to enjoy two things: snowboarding in his home state of Vermont and creating a new kind of jungle groove that would be the soundtrack of Cosmo Kramer’s apartment. So, of course, it has been in heavy rotation on our turntable to ward off the insurrection blues.
Chris Frisina – Carolina (Out of My Mind)
I was introduced to Chris through another songwritin’ folkie bud in rural New York. My bud started sending me Chris’s demos in 2019 and I was delighted to hear someone carry the torch of John Prine in such a strong way. This year we lost a lot in John… and we gained a tiny bit back in Chris.
And here’s a few odds and ends for good measure.