matt bauer
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matt bauer

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"skyscraper review of wasps and white roses"

olie Holland lends a hand on "Carve It Out", providing a vocal accompaniment to the expressive near-whispers of MATT BAUER, on the Wasps and White Roses EP (Crossbill), his follow up to the fine 2004 full-length, Nandina. These three originals, two instrumentals, and two traditional covers offer more of Bauer's hushed, nearly naked banjo and guitar, augmented with a smattering of piano and fiddle. This album's title says it all-this disc examines the intermeshed realities of our world, its natural workings of beauty and cruelty, most painfully examined in a creepy reworking of lullaby "All the Pretty Horses." - Skyscraper Summer 2006 - Skyscraper

"miles of music review of wasps and white roses"

"Carve It Out" unfolds like a mourner`s haiku. There is hushed solitude in the delivery of Matt Bauer`s haunting material, and this opening track - a duet with Jolie Holland - feels like a 100 year old still life from some remote Kentucky locale. Bauer`s core accompaniment is the banjo, mostly, played in such a way as to suggest authentic field recordings from ages ago. But his hushed, intimate delivery bridges the past with the immediate. When this 7-track EP has concluded you`ve felt transported by not only the chilling music but through his keen sense of lyrical imagery, both poetic and raw. Mariee Sioux is his vocalizing partner on the unhurried title track, and Nathan Wanta on the more uplifting final track, "Poor Robin". There are two traditional numbers, including "Heap Of Little Horses", which he sings as though it were the final lullaby. Wasps And White Roses will surely hit the mark if you find Richard Buckner and the Welch/Rawlings duo to your liking. -- Robinson, Miles Of Music (Crossbill Records)
- miles of music - miles of music

"americana uk review of wasps and white roses"

Kentuckian Bauer created a bit of a stir with his album “Nandina” in 2004 and here is the follow up, a seven song mini album in a similar vein, tapping into a rich seam of American music stretching back to the pioneers documented on the Harry Smith anthology. Understated, bare boned, intimate, the sound is pared back with guitar and banjo providing skeletal support for a set of songs portraying nature red in tooth and claw. On the opening song, “Carve it Out” Bauer paints a picture of human misery and contrasts idyllic nature scenes with the cruel reality of death and survival. Visceral in its descriptions of torn flesh the spare accompaniment of guitar and banjo complements the tone. The second and title song continues in this vein, the music sounding as if its been hewn from the living rock of rural country blues. A short instrumental “White Horse” adds some violin and skewed strings to the blend before the excellent “Sea Lion Woman” which uses a bass and snare drum to pound out a percussive beat giving a sense of urgency. The additional effects continue on the next tune, “The Owl and The Snake” where bells are used in the introduction before a driving banjo instrumental. The theme of cruelty and danger continues in “Heap of Little Horses” with Bauer taking the traditional lullaby “All the Pretty Horses” and adds his own lyrics guaranteed to send any child to sleep with nightmares. The disc finishes with the upbeat bluegrass of “Poor Robin”, banjo and fiddle give this a traditional jaunty feeling but again danger lurks in the form of a hawk poised to swoop on the eponymous redbreast.
Throughout the set Bauer’s vocals are excellent and the playing is impeccable. All in all a tremendous record.

- american uk

"the stranger (seattle) feature on matt bauer"

Border Radio

Roots & Americana


Wasps and White Roses , the new EP by Matt Bauer, features enough flora and fauna for another remake of Doctor Dolittle —or a Robyn Hitchcock album. Over just seven cuts, Bauer mentions buffalo, cherry blossoms, bullfrogs, grass, raccoons, geese, wasps, roses, sea lions, daffodils, owls, snakes... and that only takes us as far as track 5. Yet Bauer, who plays Georgetown's Jules Maes Saloon on Wednesday, April 5, swears it wasn't part of an intentional scheme.

"Much of the material I've been writing of late, even new stuff that is not on this CD, is about animals," he says from his current home in Brooklyn, New York. Still, he sees nothing unusual about that; his muse likes to follow trends. "For a long time, everything I wrote was about trains and cars. Now it's all horses and birds and snakes."

Other qualities distinguish the disc besides its affinity for the natural world. Although he is a gifted multi-instrumentalist (on the Wasps EP, he plays acoustic guitar, two types of banjo, piano, drums, flute, and glockenspiel), Bauer constructs these rough-hewn folk songs—including two instrumentals—from a bare minimum of materials, often playing single-note melodies or singing a cappella.

He is not, however, always singing alone. On the dusty opener "Carve It Out," he is joined in harmony by his former San Francisco neighbor, Jolie Holland. (She also loaned him her piano for the recording.) Such impromptu collaborations happened more than once when the two lived near each other, Bauer recalls. "I'd be going for coffee, and she'd be headed for the post office, and we'd run into each other, and someone would say, 'I have this thing I have to record...'"

Even with all its woodland denizens, Bauer's EP—the follow-up to his 2004 full-length Nandina —is hardly storybook fare... unless we're talking about the dark, twisted lore of the Brothers Grimm. On his rendition of the traditional "Heap of Little Horses," Bauer's voice sounds exhausted, almost like a condemned man singing in solitude to pass the time. Of course, if you're a fan of Tom Waits or Ohio outfit the Black Swans (Bauer toured with the latter), that's a good thing indeed.

Wasps and White Roses includes another traditional, "Sea Lion Woman," augmented with new, original lyrics. Under the circumstances, it was the most promising recourse available. "I learned that one off this old LP, Afro-American Blues & Game Songs , but it only had a snippet of two little school girls, singing just the chorus," he recalls. "I liked the song so much, but I wanted to sing something a little longer than 40 seconds."

Growing up in rural eastern Kentucky, Bauer had a pet horse, and his parents kept a vegetable garden, but music has always been his primary love. Except for that very brief period when he dreamed of becoming—surprise—a veterinarian. "That was just something I wanted to do when I was little," he laughs. "Doesn't everyone go through that phase?"

- the stranger

"songs:illinois review of wasps and white roses"

I literally have 15 posts qued up but I couldn't resist writing about the new ep from Matt Bauer . Titled Wasps and White Roses, this is the followup to 2004's debut Nandina (wrote about it here ). This one is as sparse as the first but this time the songs open up a little bit more with female vocals added to the mix and at times the songs even have a down-home bluegrass feel with the addition of some fiddle. However, they still retain the gothic americana vibe that postitions Matt Bauer somewhere between indie folk and rustic country.

Btw when I say female vocals I don't just mean some girlfriend or other who just happened to be hanging out in the studio. The female vocals on Wasps and White Roses are by none other than Jolie Holland and Marie Sioux (Brightblack). This record is coming out in April on the resuscitated label Crossbill Records . Of course Matt's played with everyone and their brother but for a real treat why don't you catch him playing with Tom Brousseau on 3/28 at Club Passim in Cambridge and 3/29 at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn. So look; the packaging is cool, the record is fantastic, the guy's on tour and I'm telling you to buy it. What else do you want!? Buy it here now.

- songs illinois
- songs illinois

"pure music review of nandina"

Pure Music Nandina review – may 4, 2005

NANDINA • Matt Bauer

Once in a long while, I hear a piece of music, a song or even a whole album, that seems not merely valuable to me but also important. Where there was no apparent exit, it casually opens a door to where music might go next and whispers, "This way." Although I recommend Matt Bauer's CD, Nandina, because I love listening to it, I also believe that anyone who has an interest in how songs are constructed would do well to buy a copy and explore what Bauer has created and the possibilities it reveals.

The album starts with a nearly normal-sounding six seconds or so: acoustic guitar, banjo, and mandolin, doing something familiar with each other. But a tiny amount of the very beginning is shaved away, almost as though the engineer didn't hit the record button in time. To me, those opening few bars resemble an item from an architectural salvage yard--like a section of vintage banister. And to my ear, those first six seconds are the last conventional thing that occurs on the CD. I interpret the intro as the artist's way of saying that this music began about 60 or 70 years ago and, as a point of reference, here's a taste of what already happened. What he gets down to after that is something brand new. The traditional sound hasn't been "modernized" with spices borrowed from Hip-hop, Jazz, or any school of electronic music--it just feels matter-of-factly like next week rather than a few years back.

On my first listen, as the first song's first verse got underway, I braced myself slightly, reflexively. I didn't know if I could trust him not to spoil the mood by going to one of those I'm-a-songwriter-watch-me-songwrite choruses. But no ruining chorus came. In fact, there was no chorus at all--only a phrase repeated at the end of each verse to give the song its framing. I noticed the language he was using--there were words in play that you don't hear in songs but might find in a good letter from a well-read and observant pal. When the song ended, I wanted to hear it again, but kept moving forward, curious.

The second cut is only a minute and thirty seconds long. Acoustic guitar, with a second part played on the banjo, doing what I always wish a banjo would do. Again something really interesting about the lyrics. What is he saying? Beautiful phrases, the dry, compelling voice. A feeling of snapshots, of moving through worlds. When the singing starts, the banjo goes quiet, leaving just voice and guitar. When the words stop, the banjo returns with these steady, off-the-beat, plucked chords. Nothing extra. Nothing unnecessary. It reached me in a surprising way, as if I'd been longing for it--waiting years and years for exactly that sound to come out of the speakers.

The album takes its name from a type of bamboo, praised for its beauty and, gardeners are cautioned, notorious for its invasiveness. For days I couldn't play anything else. Months later, Nandina continues daily to yield pleasures that no other can rival.

At some point it dawned on me that the lines in Bauer's songs don't often rhyme. He makes the absence of rhyming sound absolutely natural. His lyrics seem rooted in something like free verse poetry rather than persistent older modes. At times overtly narrative, at other times more abstract, they always convey direct feeling and "emotional sense"--a level of meaning that might be impossible to paraphase but is completely understood within the body. I'd quote some of them here, but I don't want to deprive you of the experience of initially living with his songs strictly as audio input, then, your wonder aroused, going to the artist's website and reading all the lyrics in one sitting.

Nandina has an overall vibe of modesty and, if not exactly calm, then of something quieted. But the singer's urgency is no less fierce for being partly contained. The music, which features occasional percussion and a keyboard once, in addition to the mandolin, guitar (electric and acoustic), and banjo, turns out to all be played by Matt Bauer and recorded in his home studio, with the exception of the strings on the closing cut. (I recently read that the unexpected, Oriental-flavored clanging that appears midway through the otherwise Appalachian-feeling instrumental, "Triangle Mountain," is Bauer "hitting a small frosted-glass floor lamp with an old beat-up microphone.") The recording has a genuine intimacy that perfectly suits the material.

Some art provides us with a dream to enter, a place to escape to and return from refreshed. Some comes to accompany us as we plow along, helping us continue to do what we can't figure out how to quit, or to pursue what we love but have to work at hard. Some art awakens us from a restless sleep, confirming our knowing that certain habits or other aspects of our lives have outlived their purpose and must now be abandoned. While I listened to Nandina, I realized that this is the last record review I'm ever going to write. There are a couple of things I really want to do before I miss my chance, but I'll need to focus all my creative energy there if I hope to accomplish them. The day comes. Take care.
• James Meyers

- pure music

"san francisco bay guardian feature"

Local musician and Kentucky native Matt Bauer plays the banjo on his self released album Nandina with all the sweet beautiful melancholy you’d expect from someone who writes about walking ten miles on a country road to meet and ex lover. But listen closely and you’ll hear in Bauer’s heartbreaking tales of modern life, of condoms and coke cans left by cemetery fences, and of wildfires burning in the west. Influenced by country and bluegrass, Bauer is reinterpreting those traditions to create a haunting modern sound. "
– San Francisco Bay Guardian - san francisco bay guardian


Nandina (LP, 2004)
Wasps and White Roses (EP, 2006)
- Wasps and White Roses broke WFMU's top 30 in June of 2006
- Nandina and Wasps and White Roses have received airplay on college and independent radio stations throughout the US and Europe.



After the release of his critically acclaimed debut, "Nandina," Matt quickly became one of the most popular and respected singer-songwriters in San Francisco. Matt has recently moved to Brooklyn, NY and with this major life change he is releasing his most personal musical project yet. Wasps and White Roses displays Matt's impressive banjo and guitar work, his vocals that range from gravelly to a whisper from one moment to the next and his intense depth and range as a songwriter.

These 7 introspective pieces are haunting and beautiful and feature collaborations with friends from the burgeoning SF scene, Jolie Holland, Nathan Wanta (Last of the Blacksmiths) and Mariee Sioux (harmony for Brightblack Morninglight).