Matt Tarka
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Matt Tarka

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF | AFTRA

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo Folk Rock




"Music Review - Heartbreak and Euphoria"

When I listen to Matt Tarka's song Heartbreak and Euphoria, I'm transported. I'm watching the opening credits of a film that starts in a high school parking lot with skateboards and someone's rich dad's car and a hacky sack, and the most unlikely pairing of social strata is totally gonna blow your mind by the end. What am I even doing writing a blog when I could be taking Hollywood in the 90's by storm with Matt Tarka? We could edit out all the homophobic undertones that poorly aged basically every movie of a generation and invent social media and Bitcoin.

Matt Tarka's sound fills a room with instruments in a fashion we seldom hear these days (is that a church organ AND an electric guitar solo AND an acoustic rhythm guitar?!) inheriting the twangy roots of The Traveling Wilburys. It nails a nostalgic feeling that can be found exactly at the song's title, the corner of Heartbreak and Euphoria. Sad things that sound happy are my wheelhouse. I grew up with Hootie and the Gin Blossoms and Third Eye Blind convincing me that life's darkest moments could be encapsulated in an upbeat alternative banger at the middle school dance. It's the classic bait and switch of great pop music, whether it's Robert Smith nearly gleefully weeping through a bouncy criticism of the patriarchy or The Postal Service acting as welcoming docents to a tour of a post-apocalyptic landscape.

And speaking of The Postal Service, Tarka has a voice that shares a lot of qualities with Ben Gibbard and others of his ilk, drawing a clear line through the musical trends of the past three decades. He pays homage without feeling derivative, like restoring an old car with a brand new engine. It's not something you knew you were totally in the mood to listen to because it's not something you knew existed. I did my due diligence and checked out another recent release by Tarka, Crowds, and I can confirm the vibe.

If that isn't enough, his album art features some stellar Central PA artists, M.R. Morrison (who was a featured poet back in April) and Kelly McGee who you can find at Millworks. - Christina Lengyel

""Matt Tarka Smashes With “Comets”"

“…It is a dreamy, fluffy, warm track, which he says might be called ‘a murder ballad of sorts.’ Tarka has shown consistent authenticity with his message and earnestness to express himself, both in songwriting and performance, and his latest track is no exception…” - Jaci Jedrych

"Matt Tarka - “Postcards”"

“Postcards. The idea of sending a postcard seems so archaic, yet it also brings you back to simpler times. Back when the only way to contact someone was through a letter, postcard, or a phone call on your home line. You’d get a postcard if a friend or family member was traveling or if they lived far away. Postcards were always short and sweet since you had limited space to write…

With lyrics like, “you wanna know everything, and I don’t blame you anymore,” it’s almost as though Tarka is speaking to the younger generation (or any generation these days). Everyone wants to know everything at every minute of the day. That’s why we spend so much time scrolling through our social media timelines because we have this obsession with being in the know. With a postcard, you can’t say everything. You have to keep it to a minimum. When you think of it, Twitter is almost like the modern day postcard restricting the audience to a 140 character limit. When Tarka sings, “I don’t blame you,” it’s like he’s saying that he doesn’t blame you because he’s guilty of it, too. We’re all guilty of wanting to be in the know all the time.

Matt Tarka’s “Postcards” is very thought provoking. It’s as though Tarka is saying, you don’t have to know everything, you can just keep it short. Things were less complicated when we were sending postcards. Maybe he’s telling the listener that if you go back to a simple way of living and appreciate the little things, then you won’t be as stressed or worrisome. Step away from the social media timelines and the need to know everything and get back to basics.” - Melissa Landrin

"Notes From Left of the Dial: Church Girls and more"

Washington, D.C., musician Matt Tarka deals in overwhelming emotional experiences and the persistence of haunted memories, which works quite nicely as a counterpoint to his proclivity for creating upbeat power-pop melodies. This mix of colorful rhythms and darkly introspective narratives allows each phrase and musical movement to reflect the depth and history of each story drawn from his own life. There are flashes of light, of course—Tarka doesn’t languish in the shadows. He merely uses their fringes to add weight to his music. With the forthcoming release of his new EP, “Vision Hazy,” he’ll continue to blend honest sentiment and broad universal truth with a distinctly pop-laced attitude.

On his latest single, “Time Travels,” Tarka explores a collapsing mental head space and the ensuing devastation brought on by physical deterioration. His power-pop tendencies act as a foil to the darker emotions that swirl around and inhabit the notes and melodies of the song. But he doesn’t lay in this melancholy without a sense of resolution—he turns a dire sense of inevitability into a hopeful outlook on the future. The drums splash and echo while his voice works its way inside a collection of wavering organ lines and shimmering guitar rhythms. There’s an infectious optimism that eventually emerges, an idea that while days will be dark and hearts will be broken, there will come a time when the sun’s light will reach your face again. -'s Notes from Left of the Dial


Matt Tarka will release the Vision Hazy EP on September 29. “Time Travels” is undeniably Mountain Goats-esque, and luckily the bouncy acoustic-laden tune has all the heart of John Darnielle’s greatest. - Magnet Magazine

"Mid-August Singles 1: Folk and Fun"

Here’s some punchy indie-pop that fans of the Weakerthans will immediately sit up and take notice of. The guitars and vocals come together beautifully. - Independent Clauses


As a longtime R.E.M. fan, singer-songwriter Matt Tarka says it was sublime to have Mitch Easter (who co-produced the band’s first two albums) play a key role in his latest EP, Vision Hazy.

“He was incredibly gracious with his time,” Tarka recalls. “It was cool to hold my breath and say, ‘This is really happening right now.’ ”

Released in late September, the four-song Vision Hazy was tracked with producer Ted Comerford at Low Watt Recording in Savannah, Ga., and later mixed by Easter at his Fidelitorium facility in Kernersville, N.C. Tarka breaks down each song and goes into detail about the extra effort Easter put into one of the tunes.

1. “Vision Hazy” — The title track makes a passing reference to a mural of Jim Morrison. When and where did you experience that, and was it easy to fit into this song melody-wise?
Matt Tarka: “It was easy to fit in. I went to college in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and I spent a couple of years there. A dear friend of mine who passed away in the late 1990s, he had a real affinity for Jim Morrison. Me, this friend and some other guys would go to these waterfalls and get into some extra-curricular activities. It was a beautiful late spring afternoon, and we were in the moment of this psychedelic experience. And there was this very ornate painting of a bust of Jim Morrison’s head on these rocks, and we couldn’t stop staring at this thing. The four of us just couldn’t stop staring at this thing; we weren’t sure if this was real or a figment of our imagination at the time.

“There are a couple of references within that song that we may have considered ourselves a bunch of people who were discounted at the time. We may not have necessarily been included in some ways with the rest of the student body, and this was one of our places where we escaped to every once in a while.”

2. “Midnight Sun” — Did anyone in particular inspire the line “baseball player in his prime”?
Tarka: “A majority of this song was written in the late ’90s. It was more like a poem that didn’t really fit with the project I was working with at that time. A lot of Vision Hazy was informed by that period of time. I think that baseball reference was either Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa, during that steroid-crazed home-run chase of 1998. I guess I thought at the time that these guys were on such a roll, that even if steroids were involved, they’re going to shatter Roger Maris’ single-season record. … This was before social media and still in the early stages of the internet, and I felt there was a sense of, ‘Let’s watch these guys break this record and move on to something else.’ But at the same time, everyone watching was thinking, ‘This isn’t exactly right.’ ”

3. “Time Travels” — Is this song, about losing a family member suffering from dementia, based on someone you know, something you overheard or something you read?
Tarka: “This was inspired by a family relative — my wife’s grandmother — who was going through dementia and passed away, about a year and a half ago. The chorus came to me before all of the lyrics. I was quietly writing this while we were in the backseat of my wife’s parents’ car. I shared it with her, and she seemed to like it, so I started working the words out and paying close attention to the fact that maybe things will turn around. That was probably the most vulnerable song that I’ve ever written.”

4. “Selling Roses” — Talk about the use of steel guitar, which lends great atmosphere and a layer of sadness to the music.
Tarka: “It was kind of a happy accident. The song was written with me on an acoustic guitar. I had these three ambient verses, and I had envisioned some kind of solo. I wasn’t exactly sure if it would be pedal steel or an electric guitar; I just wanted something to fill the air that was a little whimsical. And it was actually Ted Comerford’s idea. He said, ‘Mitch might be interested in playing some pedal steel.’ … I kind of disappeared for a couple of hours, and when I came back, I could hear these very light, dulcet tones from the pedal steel, and I thought, ‘Maybe he’s hearing the same thing Ted and I did.’ ” Mitch really seemed to take to the idea and put together an amazing solo.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior - Medleyville

"Matt Tarka - Vision Hazy (SELF RELEASED)"

I remember getting one other cd by this Washington, DC-based gent but didn’t give it much of a listen. This one came in and decided to give it a try. It’s an EP, only 4 songs here, but I like what I hear. Tarka is a folk rocker in a similar vein of Tom Petty (and at times John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats) but like those guys he can rock out, too. Also, his voice takes a little getting used to (just like Petty and Darnielle’s voices did for me). The four songs were recorded in Savannah, GA, not a place I hear much indie rock being recorded but what the hell do I know, maybe the town is a hotbed (my dad was from there so we’d go down every few years and visit my grandmother in the 70’s, real beautiful town). The opening title track was nice, but Tarka and the band really bring it together on the driving, jangly “Midnight Sun” (even Mitch Easter, who mixed the record, adds bass here plus Brendan and Sean Kelly from another very good NC band, a fragile tomorrow, contribute to the record, too) while “Time Travels’ picks the pace up, if just a bit, as the song really moves (love that organ). The final cut, “Selling Roses” (which Easter provides pedal steel) was solid but I like it more when Tarka adds a little more tempo. Tarka is a good songwriter and now that I’m accustomed to his voice I’m going to go back to that previous record (which was called Surely Late) and give another listen. This guy is worth your time. - Dagger ZINE

"Time Travels"

Soaring harmonies and upbeat instrumentation will leave your heart racing through the infectious melody. - No Depression

"E.P. Review: Matt Tarka, "Surely Late""

Washington D.C. native Matt Tarka is set to release his 4th recorded work (2 singles and now 2 E.P.’s), the 4 song Surely Late. Produced with Ted Comerford (amongst others, A Fragile Tomorrow) and mixed by Mitch Easter (you know his track record), these songs are catchy and equal “instant classic”, with their acoustic driven pop feel, harmonies and crisp twanging guitars.

“Very Little” is pop with a capital “P”, riff and rhythmically meaty, sharp and biting lyrics and easily embraceable; “Now Or Never” is reminiscent of mid-to-late ’80’s college radio (think R.E.M., The Ocean Blue or The Connells), filled starts and stops, boisterous organ and standout guitar fills; the title track has that “new wave”-ness that reminds me of (frankly) my own bands (Two Minutes Hate, as we improved and the earliest things we attempted as we morphed into The Punch Line) – straight ahead, pop construction but with motor; “Bring A Glass” is the surprise – slower, twinges of gospel and country and sadly sweet harmonies (listen to those guitar notes – fantastic).

Sometimes four songs are all you need to deliver the message. These four terrific songs from Matt Tarka are just that – all you need. And these four songs will stay with you long after the last notes chime into silence. - PopDose

"Stream Folk Rocker Matt Tarka’s Emotional New EP Early"

Matt Tarka doesn’t like being told what to do. Instead, he follows his heart — it’s a good thing, too, because his heart tells him to make honest, catchy music anybody can relate to. The Washington D.C. based singer-songwriter has been putting out material since his 2008 musical debut, and now, nearly a decade later, his current work finds him in the one-of-a-kind niche he’s built for himself. Though the folk rocker’s latest EP, Surely Late, is releasing this Friday, he teamed up with Elmore for an early record stream.
Tarka says that Surely Late is his “attempt at describing a handful of isolated moments of heartbreak, rejection and the ability to plow ahead,” generally negative themes improved upon by upbeat rhythms and obvious energy. The EP opens with “Now Or Never” as Tarka’s distinct voice starts soft with bare guitar strums then bounces right into an old-school pop-rock 80s sound. Even singing seemingly hopeless lines like “We have lost our way,” he offers solace immediately with positive solutions like making amends to his mistakes, all over a bed of constant, wailing rock instrumentation. The closing track, “Bring A Glass,” gently pulses an emotional opening that welcomes Tarka’s aching vocals dancing with Lara Supan’s sparse, haunting harmony. The track feels vast with rich rhythm beating to a cohesive, classic tone.

Surely Late tackles the despair of everyday life, turning it from hopeless to hopeful with Matt Tarka’s carefully and confidently crafted musical arrangements, sincere vocals, and relatable lyrics. - Elmore Magazine


Matt Tarka hails from D.C., and he’s promoting new record Surely Late (out November 18) with catchy single “Very Little,” which we’ve got below for your streaming/downloading pleasure. The song is very ’90s acoustic radio rock, with a very candid look at a very upsetting romantic situation. - Magnet Magazine

"Music Review: Matt Tarka, Surely Late"

Matt Tarka is a DC-based indie pop time warp. On his EP, Surely Late, he evokes the hazy, early days of college radio (remember that? What do they even call that now?) with powerful melodies, a bit of sugary sweetness, and a delightful propulsiveness that belies the heartache that provides the lyrical matter. It’s a four-song chunk of solid songwriting and catchiness, and an interesting introduction.

Surely Late was mixed by Mitch Easter, and his fingerprints feel obvious. The opener, “Now Or Never,” has a jangling intensity, and a driving beat. Tarka’s got a sweet, endearing voice with an appealing oddness to his inflection, and a gift for hooky melody. It’s a track about a relationship on the skids or perhaps on fire with a candy-floss hit of harmony that peeps in like sunshine. The title track is another dying relationship song that is infectiously lively, with echo laden lead guitar over propulsive acoustic.

“Very Little” is power pop that reminds me of the fabulous Cait Brennan’s music. There are lots of influences at play here and they’ve melded to make something ever so appealing. Add in a hint of country twang to the guitar, and an ache to the voice that tries to sound “OK” when the situation isn’t at all OK, and it hits all the right moments. “Bring A Glass” turns the vivacity of the beat down. It’s a languid closer about a relationship that’s moving at two different speeds (one wants commitment and the other isn’t ready yet). The lyrics are honest, and that seems to be a hallmark of Tarka’s writing.

As a jumping off point, Surely Late is a charming, lively entry to Matt Tarka. While there were only four songs to the EP, I certainly could have dug hearing more, and am looking forward to hearing what he puts out next. - PopShifter

"Matt Tarka - Very Little"

Inspiration can strike at even the most inopportune times, whether it’s in the middle of the night, waiting at a red light, or even riding a train back home. The steady click of the wheels on the iron tracks are the rhythmic whispers of a muse singing for anyone who will listen. D.C. indie rock artist Matt Tarka announces the EP, Surely Late, a collection of these captured moments, due out November 18. Weaving isolated instances of heartbreak and rejection, he creates a sound that remedies nostalgia while still delighting with melodic surprise. - Paste

"Notes From Left of the Dial: Wolf People and more"

D.C. musician Matt Tarka inhabits a world of heartache, loss and hope-the usual haunts for a singer-songwriter whose work revolves around some distinctly universal themes. But the details and experiences he uses as the foundation of his work are truly unique and give each song specific altitude and meaning. His voice possesses an insular twang and wobble, the perfect vehicle for these weary ruminations. It’s not unlike the specific vocal tenacity of a musician like John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, but Tarka develops and maintains a pointed individuality that lends each song a remarkable emotional resonance.

On his new single, “Very Little,” Tarka wraps this gift for freeform release in a mass of acoustic and electric guitar tones. His voice shakes and shivers under the weight of his story, a somber tale of someone who is always subverting his needs for someone else’s. The upbeat rhythms complicate our dissection of this narrative (much in the same way that bands such as The Pernice Brothers and The Magnetic Fields wrap sad stories in beautiful sounds), but Tarka manages to keep the music moving along, never releasing his control and directing everything toward a particular musical revelation. The song barrels ahead, regardless of its trajectory-it just knows that it has to keep moving and exploring these sounds without losing its tenacity or candid perspective. -'s Notes from Left of the Dial

"The Daily Krapht - Matt Tarka- "Very Little""

This morning we would like to introduce you to Matt Tarka, indie rock artist out of Washington DC. Tarka will be releasing his 3rd EP come November, and we have a single off the EP for your ears today.

Photo Credit: Stefanie Ambrose

“Very Little” tells the familiar tale of being everything to that one person. The track is upbeat, with a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitar and Tarka’s wavering vocals. There’s layers and depth to the music, vocals and lyrics which makes for a great listen and makes us eager to hear more.

“Very Little” will be featured on Surely Late, and when asked Tarka had this to say about it:

“This record documents a point in my life where no matter how hard I aimed to press forward, I found myself staring at the clock and falling behind.”

Stream “Very Little” below, and then connect with Matt Tarka on all the usual social media sites to be kept up to date on newest releases. If you’re in the DC area later this month, you can catch him at Gypsy Sally’s on the 29th. - Wordkrapht

"Matt Tarka “Vision Hazy”"

Matt Tarka’s “Vision Hazy” is a thoughtful piece of alternative rock that draws upon Tom Petty and the Avett Brothers. With a robust instrumentation that allows the guitars, bass, and drums to shine at all the right points, this track possesses a polish that would allow Vision Hazy great ease in sliding into radio or playlist rotation. Tarka’s vocals build upon the style of Perry Ferrell and Wayne Coyne. We appreciate the shift in sound that occurs at the three minute mark of Vision Hazy; a more hazy, ethereal sound dominates for the final segment of the single. - NeuFutur


Motorcycle Breakfast (EP) - 2011
Farragut Square (Single) - 2014
Surely Late (EP) - 2016
Vision Hazy (EP) - 2017
Good Morning, Sympathy (Single) - 2021
Crowds (Single) - 2021
Heartbreak & Euphoria (Single) - 2021
Postcards (Single) - 2021
Comets (Single) - 2021



Have you ever had a moment where you’ve realized that you were late to the party, that you’ve spent too much energy on trying to please the wrong people or you’ve been deceived by those closest to you? If the answer is yes then the rock-inflected folk music of Lancaster, PA's Matt Tarka will speak directly to you. Weaving isolated moments of heartbreak and rejection into his songs he continues the traditions of artists such as Tom Petty, Wilco and Carole King.

These themes flow from his EP, Vision Hazy and five new singles released in 2021  - all recorded at Low Watt Recording in Savannah, GA with Ted Comerford (Jukebox The Ghost, Jonas Sees in Color) at the production helm, and subsequently mixed by Mitch Easter (R.E.M, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr.) at The Fidelitorium in North Carolina. Taking his folk origins and unleashing them, with the help of the occasional guitar flourish or fluttering drumbeat, the record sees Tarka bolster his sound with a rockier element. Sonically these are his most advanced creations to date.

The considered nature of the tracks belies the slightly chaotic nature of his creative process. Ideas are roughly written down on index cards, notebooks, on scraps of paper left under the bed in case of night-time inspiration, or recorded into a dictation machine. Out of these assorted thoughts come the lyrics, which then shape the sound of his music. Demos are recorded onto an old cassette recorder, giving them a timeless feel from the very outset, and order is finally formed from his disorderly ruminations.

It’s a process that has evolved since his debut in 2008, as Tarka continues to follow his muse. As he says himself, ‘don’t let anyone tell you what kind of music you should be making, or how you should be making it. There are enough outside distractions in the world. Be true to yourself.’ You can hear this mantra ringing out in his honest lyrics and heartfelt delivery.

In an intimate live setting Tarka’s music takes on a different lease of life, careening and questing further from his tight recordings. Having already played in Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC and DC (anywhere with a barbeque joint nearby), with new shows coming up there’ll be plenty of chances to hear the songs performed live. You needn’t worry if you’re late in discovering the sounds of Matt Tarka …. Now’s the perfect chance to catch up! 

Band Members