Matt Pless
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Matt Pless

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | SELF

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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Matt Pless reminded us of feelings about the enormous number of baby boomer children that are trying to be rock stars. His grim insights and wry wit are good medicine for the many many productive lives that might be better spent making careers in brain surgery or car washing than in music. Matt is one of the most traveled road warriors we've had the pleasure to interview. This guy is true grit! His music was also seasoned crafted and nostalgic - Mr. Pless here's to the harmonica and the road. - Seven Summer Sessions, NYC

"Matt Pless is a young, folk-style singer/songwriter who draws his influences from Bob Dylan, John Prine, and the rhyming word structures of Hip-Hop to create his own definitive style within the acoustic genre. His song "Talkin' Information" is a great example of the blending of his three main influences. Contemporary messages, with classic acoustic/folk style...and a real pro!
I first listened to his music, for pre-production for him to be a guest on our show, but I have continued to listen to his music because I want to!"
-Sandy Jacobson, Creator & Producer
BackStage:Los Angeles
"L.A.'s REAL Music Interview T.V. Show!" - Sandy Jacobson, Creator/Producer

Matt Pless does not offer sweet acoustic songs. Those who would need to confine his music might call it indie folk pop, but his music goes much beyond one genre. The simplicity of its themes is a virtue…not a disadvantage. With just his guitar to accompany him, he needs nothing else to shape his music…his harmonica does add deeper textures. The twelve songs of the record are absolutely infectious and engraining. Each one separately is a small gem by itself. The entire CD emanates joy. One could cite Lemonheads as influence.

I could continue…but better check his myspace and judge for yourself.
- Ganesha Zine (Buenos Airies, South America)

…After an abrupt hairpin turn we‘re at Matt Pless, who‘s firmly entrenched in the populist neighborhood re-annexed in the ‘50s-‘60s to ?singer songwriter/folk by Woody
Guthrie and Bob Dylan, among others. While I lean toward more exciting (to me) or intricate tones (British Isles/Celtic, French, Rom gypsy, Hungarian), with Pless‘s
latest, Alarm Clock Time Bomb, I did less fast-forwarding than expected to see if the songs would diverge from predictable progressions. Several do, as well as benefiting
from fairly sophisticated arrangements and collaborative energy (cello, bass, dobro, drums, and lead guitar). The repetitive form supporting social commentary on “White Picket Fences” is surrounded with enough spice to earn Pless a tenuous perch in the new
generation of musical protesters. At best, Pless is retracing the trajectory of folk-rockers like the Byrds (“Boomerang”, “When the Helmets Hit the Ground”) or, in a reverse trajectory, Jorma Kaukonen with Hot Tuna (opener ?The Flowers in the Furnace?). Despite a tendency to lean toward Weezer/Pavement on his more straightforward rock, Pless abandons any hope of coolness by holding forth on subjects rarely mentioned by below 30s, like the dominance of cyber activity. You‘d think the Dylan-rippin‘ “Talkin‘ Information Blues” was by a writer 30 years his senior.

- by Mary Leary, Paraphilia Magazine

JTMP was at the Unity Music Festival this year, and encountered a local musician from the Baltimore scene that left us feeling we had encountered a young Bob Dylan before he was discovered. Matt Pless, who has released an independent CD titled "Alarm Clock Time Bomb", impressed us not only with his fantastic guitar playing, harmonica playing, and singing; but also with his gift of weaving lyrical poetry around his strong songwriting. His lyrics are stories themselves, painting pictures of such social issues as suburban living, propaganda on TV, and the Internet.
"White Picket Fences" is a track that makes one laugh at the suburban lifestyle, yet also philosophizes about it. His song, "When the Helmets Hit the Ground", about America's military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, conjures up visions of the true toll of these events and makes one think about what it is really all about. It makes you question it all. All of the tracks on this CD are truly works of art, displaying strong songwriting and socially conscious thoughts.
- Justice through Music

Matt’s music is hypnotic live…His charisma and humorous lyrics…(are) irresistible.
While capturing the world around him, he is able to pour the ingredients of the day into a bowl and mix it into a rockin’ good time…or a soothing tune…

Vince Anderson
Shockwave Magazine Aug ‘10

- Shockwave Magazine

Matt Pless is a man of many talents. As the lead singer of [a] MD-based punk band Pless was able to perform his songs in front of large audiences as an opening act for major acts like The Queers and Maroon 5 and at festivals and events like the annual Vans Warped Tour. Now that [band] is no long active, Pless has moved back to working as a solo artist and proves himself to be quite a songwriter and performer of acoustic pop music on his new album Requiems for Wishing Wells.
From the jangly pop of the opening track "Zero to the Third" to the tender and honest introspection of My Dark Room, this album has a little bit of everything. Another standout track on Requiems for Wishing Wells is the somber balladry of "Madeline", but my favorites are "the Gypsy Life, a tale of a musician's life on the road that features a beautiful violin accompaniment by Krissy Golden and the Ballad of D.I.Y., an interesting autobiographical trip through Pless's life experiences as a musician.

- Music Monthly

Matt Pless's album "Requiems for Wishing Wells" is the album you're going to want from the fat guy in a red suit. Matt has a way of using his lyrics to tell the truth about how he feels about everything from modern punk rock in "The Ballad of D.I.Y." to doing things the way he wants to in "The Faded Fall Down". With various instruments from the harmonica to the tambourine and the violin, this album is far from anything that you hear on MTV. And that's the way Matt wants it. He's "grown up" since his days of Three Prong Outlet and has made, in my opinion, the most amazing album of the year. Even though the music is laid-back, make sure you listen to his lyrics, you can still hear the angst that we all love Matt for. Instead of just bitching about the scene, Matt is going to make a difference if people would just pick up this album and listen to what he has to say.

- Bandslut Online

Jezebel Music, Brooklyn, NY
Fans have seen his songwriting reach a new level in the past year. The once Violent-Femmes-meets-Dylan bratiiness has been replaced by...well, he’s still wonderfully boisterous at times but there are some sensitive ballads in the mix as well. His lyrics are reaching new depths as well and we can’t wait to see what directions he’ll be headed in this year.
- Jezebel Music


"...inspiring, amazing"

"...entertaining AND it makes you think!"

"A true work of art. . ."

"Wonderful CD I loved every song."

"Moving, creative, thought-provoking, and wonderful listening experience."

"Breath taking..."

- CD Baby

Matt on the streets of New York
"Matt who? No, never heard of him."

Well by all means allow me to introduce you. I had the privilege of attending a free show at Towson University last night, graciously hosted by their very own English Club. The featured performer was Matt Pless, a singer-songwriter I had never heard of before. But now, not even 24 hours later, I already have that elitist-swagger in my step that we all get when we feel like we've become acquainted with "the next big thing" before the rest of our friends. Now I know how the first guy to ever make a Facebook account or say "Check out this YouTube video!" must have felt.

When I got to the show – which was a relatively small event held in a classroom-turned-performance-space – my friend pointed out the night's headliner to me, sitting quietly by himself on a couch in the corner. An evidently soft-spoken and thoughtful individual, Matt Pless utilizes an entirely different voice as soon as he begins to sing. For the first time in a long while, I witnessed an aspiring musician who seemed to be more at ease while he was playing than when he wasn't. He didn't once attempt to hide his voice or his lyrics, putting them out for the audience's consideration as confidently as if he'd been playing a show for The Matt Pless Fan Club.

As for the music itself, I must admit that I didn't lose interest once in the entire 11-song set. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a distinct-but-likable voice, Matt is easily likened to a certain singer-songwriter who became famous with that exact instrumentation many, many years ago. But instrumentation aside, his compositions offer lyrically-potent social commentary, on par with the works of... well... that same famous singer-songwriter. So subtle allusions aside, Matt shares many admirable qualities with the legendary Bob Dylan, and could probably become comparably popular if the generation he's trying to reach would only begin to take an interest in lyrical craftsmanship and meaningful messages. Sadly, it seems that right now one or two catchy hooks, paired with the most popular emo-haircut and some good luck are the only criteria for success in this broken music industry of ours.

Matt Pless has clearly not accepted this paradigm, however, and seems determined to lace all of his songs with a greater meaning and originality not commonly found in popular music these days. The anti-war anthem, "When The Helmets Hit The Ground," is a plea to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, which Matt wrote for a woman he met who had a son overseas. Meanwhile, the ironic comment on the masks worn by "normal" families in the song "White Picket Fences" is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever felt that in some way or another they come from a broken home that still appears functional on the surface.

But don't get the impression that all Matt's music is serious by any means. He has his share of lighthearted love songs too, like the as-yet unrecorded story of the peasant boy and Amber-Leigh, or "She Plays With Dirty Needles and She's In My Arms Again." My favorite song of the night though, was probably "Talkin' Information Blues," a witty and comedic exploration of how the internet has changed social relations in recent years. If you have an internet-capable phone and a Myspace page, you can't help but directly relate to almost every line in the song, which is an impressive feat for any songwriter.

Although now that I'm listening to the CD I bought and looking back on my notes from the show, I'm thinking that "In The Past Tense" is also a good contender for my favorite Pless track. A touching and beautifully fingerpicked song, – stylistically reminiscent of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" – all I wrote about it in my notes last night was "Damn... That's a good one..."

So in case you haven't read between the lines and decoded the latent subtext of this article yet, I'll just come right out and say that Matt Pless has won my highest possible recommendation for music to check out. Both of his albums are available for purchase on iTunes and, and some great songs are on his Myspace page that everyone can check out free of charge. Don't let me down, people. I know Towson has some local pride, we gave Michael Phelps a damn parade. But not all of us want to spend all of our time in a pool, so the least we can do is spend a few bucks to support some fantastic local music.
- Baltimore


Matt Pless 2012 Acoustic demo
Ballerina - full length
Alarm Clock Time Bomb - full length
Requiems for Wishing Wells - full length
The Crayon Song - 4 song sampler



Combining elements of folk, punk, pop and roots rock, Matt Pless can lyrically turn a phrase with the best of them. Known for his engaging and thought-provoking witty lyrics, his music spans topics from love and loss to social commentary, from drug abuse to friendship…even ethereal train of thought abstractions.
Coffee shops, clubs, basements, living rooms…wherever there are people who want to hear his music, Matt will accommodate. He books his own tour dates and along the way has managed to share the stage with Maroon 5, Fallout Boy, Ani Difranco, David Amram, Rilo Kiley, Alkaline Tri, NOFX, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Ghost Mice, Ramshackle Glory, The Queers, Warren Haynes, Ryan Harvey, Bad Brains, and others. A consummate performer with a high energy stage presence, Matt’s universally relatable songs will leave you talking, thinking…and thirsty for more.
As the lead singer/songwriter for his high school punk band, 3 Prong Outlet, Matt released three albums of original pop punk songs and toured with the band up and down the East Coast and out to the Midwest. When he and the band members went their separate ways, it was not a difficult move for Matt to venture out on his own, releasing his first solo album “Requiems for Wishing Wells”. This saw his lyrical and songwriting prowess advance far beyond the realms of his previous ventures. He was tackling more complicated topics with the crowd-pleasing “What You Will”, “The Joker and the Fool”, and “The Gypsy Life” earning the young man from Catonsville, MD a reputation as a lyricist to watch. He followed the release with his first 3-month U.S. tour!
When Matt set out for NYC for the first time, he spent his first night playing in the subway for tips. He continued to play for change and added Washington Square Park to his busking list. As a result of his street singing, he was approached for inclusion in “The Noise beneath the Apple”, a book documenting buskers and street performers in New York City. His song, “New York Monday” is featured on the book’s accompanying vinyl compilation. Eventually, his talent led him to play many of the top songwriter venues in the Big Apple, including The Sidewalk Café, Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, Café Vivaldi and The City Winery.
With the release of his second solo effort, “Alarm Clock, Time Bomb”, Matt went right back out on the road for a full summer of touring circling the country playing house shows and street corners from coast to coast. His songwriting structure and poetics were reaching new heights and he began to add finger picking to his repertoire of guitar techniques. “Where the Horses Won’t Go” and “Flowers in the Furnace” are two hypnotic poems from that album that question the world and its social structures. It also includes the biting Woody Guthrie style inspired commentary on the modern technological age called “Talkin’ Information Blues”. Another cut, the nostalgic “In the Past Tense”, earned him a finalist spot in the Great American Song contest. Carolyn Hart, (widow of songwriting legend Bobby Hart of Boyce and Hart) said of it, “Love the song…this really spoke to my heart”. He was now receiving accolades from other sources including the world renowned folk music impresario, Izzy Young who said “ [Matt] has something. It’s good! How can lyrics so meaningful come from somebody so young?”
The release of Matt’s third solo album saw additional growth to his writing ability. An analysis of the ups and downs of love and addiction, “Ballerina” offered songs destined to be classics such as the shadowy after hours world of chemical induced New York night life portrayed in “The Crayon Song” , the upbeat and humorous marijuana laced sing-along “Glassy Eyes” and the thoughtful ballad of lost love called “Tomorrow is a Word We’ll Never Know” which was covered by female country stylist, Kel C. (This upbeat country version became one of her most popular tracks, showing just how universal and flexible Matt’s songs can be.)
Matt continued to tour relentlessly, supporting Irish folk duo “Heathers”, traveling to Indiana to play at a popular underground punk gathering called “Plan it X Fest”, and spending the bulk of the spring and summer of 2011 broadening his fan base in as many states as he could. Early that fall he ventured to Zuccotti Park in NYC during the Occupy Wall Street protests to play some music there and ended up becoming the impetus behind a benefit compilation cd called Occupy This Album. He contributed his original composition “Something’s Got to Give” to the cd which also included tracks performed by artists like Joan Baez, Crosby and Nash, Debbie Harry, Tom Morello, Thievery Corporation, the Guthrie Family, Yoko Ono, Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith and Willie Nelson, among others. Matt also created the cover art for the album, a recognition of his lifelong talent for drawing and the visual arts. In the months that followed, he appeared in national music publications such