Matthew Hornell
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Matthew Hornell

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada | INDIE

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada | INDIE
Band Folk Alternative




"The Telegram"

Nobody in Newfoundland is gaining momentum as intently and tenaciously as Matthew Hornell and The Diamond Minds. The rootsy, folk-rock foursome of Hornell (acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocals), Jonny Bungay (electric guitar, mandolin), Paddy Byrne (bass), and Joshua Bourden (drums), each member a gentleman in his own right, delivered a sucker-punch to the St. John’s indie music scene with its swift and remarkable arrival.

In under a year The Diamond Minds have fostered a following of concert goers eager to move to the band’s rhythmic cosmos, characterized foremost by euphonious melodies and the band’s relentless offering of raw energy.

Hornell’s honest but undemanding vocals reach the soul in an unheralded manner. Perhaps it’s the coming of age sophistication of his lyrics and tone or the principled approach to writing honestly. Whether it's the unabashed longing for affection given so conditionally in "She Only Loves Me" or the pursuit of love in the ballad "Khaki Dodgers," the story of his grandparents coming together in a mining community in rural Newfoundland.

If this much has happened in one year, the future is full of endless possibilities for Matthew Hornell and The Diamond Minds. The band is in the process of recording its first full-length record and has its sight set on a road trip for summer 2010 when the four plan to unveil their music to mainland ears."

- Justin Brake, freelance writer for The Telegram. - Justin Brake

"The Scope (New Music 2009)"

Matthew Hornell takes off his shoes and takes the stage with a glass of what looks like Screech. Heads pointed together, he and bass player Patrick Byrne try to tune their instruments through the thick noise of a pretty much packed Ship Pub.

A little later, electric-acoustic guitar in hand, he says “We’re coming closer to you folks.”

Thing is, Hornell is intimate with his audience before this point. and throughout his performance he invites friends on stage to play with him.

Though his band’s current line up has only been performing for a month and a half or so, people are dancing and singing along to his catchy folk songs.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Hornell has established not only a fan base, but a community around his music.

He started off a solo artist, performing at open mics before recruiting his friends as back up musicians. The band includes Jon Bungay on guitar and mandolin and Josh Bourden on drums, as well as Byrne and Hornell.

“I just started writing tunes and the guys kind of gave it legs,” Hornell explains on the stairs of Solomon’s Lane after his show. During our chat several people stop by to tell him how much they enjoyed his set.

The band, which he calls folk alternative, has just received funding from MusicNL and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council to record an album.

Hornell says he writes about “your standard themes.”

One stand-out track is a story about his grandparents called “Khaki Dodgers.”

“That was an old love tale, my grandfather passed away and I never got to meet him. So I like to tell stories.” Kerri Breen - Kerri Breen

"The Folkin' Freak Show"

“Goodbye for Now” is purely enchanting, and “Khaki Dodgers” is an immediate hit. You’ll be singing it for days. Matthew Hornell and The Diamond Minds seemed to have struck gold, and we should be so lucky they want to share it with us.

Dasheill Brown, The Folkin' Freak Show - Dashiell Brown

"The New Spin"

"Fresh on the scene out of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Matthew Hornell’s songs aim right for your gut, riding on pure emotion. His well-crafted folk songs draw you in, you’ll be singing along, feeling at home as in front of the campfire with good food and friends. Sounding timeless, yet fresh and bold, the songs are executed with whip-crack precision."

Dashiell Brown, The New Spin

*You can hear Matthew Hornell w. Tiffany Hancock live on The New Spin: - Dashiell Brown

"Upon This Rock"

"Matthew Hornell & The Diamond Minds are an exciting folk/rock fusion that could be "the next big thing" in modern Newfoundland music. Their live shows are incredibly energetic, and they don't mind giving 110 per cent every show they play."

Kevin Kelly - Upon This Rock CHMR-FM (2009) - Kevin Kelly

"Product of Newfoundland"

There's lots of good music out there but not like Matthew Hornell and The Diamond Minds -- these guys have something special.

So special, in fact, that I'm finding it hard to write about them with out getting lost on a sea of superlatives. And I'm not alone -- the group has exploded on the St. John's music scene to general fanfare. For my money, it all comes down to timeless melodies, wonderfully poetic lyrics and thoughtful delivery. The band, comprised of Hornell, Jonathan Bungay, Paddy Bryne, Joshua Bourden, has constructed a solid collection of folk-rock songs that are honest, energetic, smart and always engaging. These are songs you'll want to play and sing.

They currently have four tracks streaming on MySpace. They're all worthy of your attention but my favourites are Khaki Dodgers and Goodbye for Now. The former is a brilliantly written folk rock track chronicling the meeting of Hornell's grandparents in Buchans (a boom and bust mining town in central Newfoundland). It's a wonderful blend of song and story, with a rhythm and delivery that's going to make you want to hit repeat. The latter, a beautifully delivered ballad, is no less captivating. It easily earns the group it's name -- it's a gem.

They have recently received recording grants from Newfoundland Labrador Arts Council (NLAC) and MusicNL so we can look for some more recorded work the group soon. In the meantime you can check out a podcast recording of Matthew Hornell and the Diamond Minds on Dashiell Brown's New Spin online.

It's worth checking out. - Robert Hiscock


Matthew Hornell and the Diamond Minds - Self Titled (2010)
1. She Only Loves Me
2. Red Crescent
3. Waiting For A Train
4. Easy On Me
5. Khaki Dodgers
6. Lose To Learn
7. Float Away
8. Will You Come Back
9. Goodbye For Now

Matthew Hornell and the Diamond Minds - From The Fall (2009) E.P

1. Khaki Dodgers (4:37)
2. She Only Loves Me (3:48)
3. Ancient and Unknown (3:13)
4. Goodbye For Now (5:31)

-Received airplay on CBC, local and college radio.



(June, 2011)

Matthew Hornell is a singer and a songwriter from Newfoundland and Labrador. After bursting onto the St. John's music scene with live shows that showcased his unflagging energy, Hornell's award-winning debut album, released in 2010, firmly established him as a vital new voice in the songwriting community of Atlantic Canada.

After a cross-Canada tour with his band in the fall of 2010, Hornell returned home to spend the winter writing and working on new material that will form the foundation of his sophomore album, slated for release in early 2012. He'll hit the road again this summer, this time working his way to the opposite coast as a solo performer, joined by friends along the way.

On the heels of his debut release, Hornell received four Music NL awards - including Entertainer of the Year and the Rising Star Award. He has shared stages with such talented musicians as Elliott Brood, Sloan, David Francey and Brian Borcherdt and brought his songs to shows and venues all across Canada.