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"Best Acoustic Duo"

While many like acts overcompensate for the lack of a backing band by playing loud and aggressive, Palatypus chose to explore the softer dynamic possibilities of two acoustic guitars. Matt Durfee's melodic finger-picking is the perfect counterpart to Mike Poulopoulos' Spartan folk strumming, and their two voices blend like gin and tonic on a summer day. Bring a blanket when you catch one of their performances. - Metroland, Best of 2007

"Dossier - Palatypus"

Published April 11, 2007

It seems most music reviewers lately rely on the use of “blank meets blank” to describe the sound. I have a love/hate relationship with this terminology; I love using it, and hate reading it. Luckily the new local music group Palatypus sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard. Or perhaps they sound like a combination of too many legendary musicians. What meets what?

I’ve known both of these fine young gentlemen for quite some time. Matt Durfee and I were actually only a few years apart in a very small high school. I met Mike Poulopoulos at Savannah’s “Tuesday Night Jam” several years ago. Mike and his then band, Manikin Ed, became welcome regulars. When the band didn’t show one night, Mike was left with his voice and his guitar. When you’re expecting a band and get solo acoustic, you might anticipate being slightly less impressed with the later. I, however, was more so.

Flash forward about two years: I was starting to see more of these guys around, separately. Mike, after amicably parting from Manikin Ed, came to my open mic with a slew of new songs that better complimented the acoustic sounds he was meant to make. There was a raw, classic feel to each song, and if I hadn’t asked, I would’ve believed them to be polished versions of classic blues tunes - the kind of songs available on compact disc now, but not without that hint of timeless, scratchy vinyl. Matt burst onto the scene with tremendous talent and even better press. His voice and guitar pop, never giving a chance to turn your eyes or ears away. If you close your eyes, you’d believe you’re listening to two or three guitars. It comes out tidy and bright and is the perfect compliment to Poulopoulous’s metronomically tight rhythms and deeper timbre. It’s almost a choral arrangement with four part harmony; between the voices and guitars, all four parts are covered phenomenally.

Although their collaboration began just one year ago, they give the impression that they’ve been together far longer, much like brothers. Yet unlike brothers, there are no arguments. The only thing they disagreed on was each other’s lyrics. Matt Durfee had the nerve to say that he thought his lyrics were his weakest attribute. He says this is based on a mood factor. Perhaps it’s a hesitant conviction of said mood to be immortalized in song, even if beautiful art will be created. They relate in the light-hearted delivery of each word. And that is (or should be) a jewel in any song-writer’s crown; they get it without getting it. It’s easy for an artist to become pretentious and force an audience to suffer one’s inner demons; it’s entirely more impressive to touch someone without draping them with cumbersome self-deprecation.

Mike, on the other hand, finds his lyrical output to be less complex, and more peripheral. It’s just another example of how well these two unique artists compliment each other. The music thrives on this contrast. The best musical duos have never achieved greatness by being carbon copies of one another. Life and art are about balance and this is clearly witnessed in the freshly unique yet achingly familiar sound of these two artists.

Currently they are working on an album, Song for Tomorrow. With the release of this album these two hope to reach their ultimate goal of hitting the road. A more laid back Poulopoulos sometimes gets the “good enough” feeling when the repetition of a recording session gets to him. “I want the champ,” says Durfee as he borders the fine line between perfectionism and compulsion. Once again balance is found.

- Erin Harkes, UPSTATE Magazine

"Their Americana, singer/songwriter style evokes.."

Their Americana, singer/songwriter style evokes the open spaces of Durfee's upbringing in rural Schoharie County, while Poulopoulos' lyrics draw on, in part, literary characters such as Francis Phelan from William Kennedy's novel "Ironweed."
Durfee's finger-picking style adds a completely innovative melody to Poulopoulos' Americana chord structure. - Philip Schwartz, The Daily Gazette

"Accidentally Happy: Fate, luck, or a heady concoction of the two has things looking..."

By Mike Hotter

It isn’t easy to write an engaging song about being happy and contented, at least if you’re aiming for something above the caliber of, say, “I’m a Barbie girl/in a Barbie world.” One of the most striking things about the work of Matt Durfee and Mike Poulopoulos, the two guitarist-singers better known to local-music lovers as Palatypus, is how refreshingly angst-free most of their tunes are. Yes, in accordance with the country and blues traditions from which they draw their inspirations, many of the tunes deal with an absent lady and the occasional overindulgence with the bottle. But these things are delivered as a matter of course rather than a cry of lament—part and parcel of the working musician’s late nights and lonely roads.

The story of Palatypus is a familiar one: Two bright young men fall in love with music at an early age and find that they can best express themselves to the rest of the world through singing about it, because sometimes words themselves just get in the way. Take the origin of the duo’s name, for instance.

“We were at the Lark Tavern for an open-mic night,” Poulopoulos recalls, “and [someone] misheard my name during introduction. It went something like, ‘Mike Poulopoulos, good to meet you.’

‘Mike wha . . . ?’

‘Poulopoulos.’ Screaming electric guitar solo.


[Later], during a half-drunk stagger outside of Caffé Lena, Matt suggested Palatypus and it stuck.”

Their willingness to act on serendipity, or what can be termed “the happy accident,” is one of the many subtle and unexpected qualities that make these two musicians particularly intriguing: Beneath the low-key demeanor of Durfee and Poulopoulos thrums the sort of ambition that occurs when taste, talent and a bunch of really good songs collide.

Durfee’s fingerpicking guitar- playing technique first germinated when a high-school classmate named Kirk (“an older, hippie-type of kid that I looked up to”) heard the young Durfee picking away outside on the school lawn.

“He had heard me playing and mentioned that he had this mix tape of an artist that he thought I’d like,” Durfee says. The artist in question was Leo Kottke, renowned for his idiosyncratic approach to country-blues fingerpicking. “Hearing Kottke play really opened my eyes to the fact that a song doesn’t have to be easy to get, or radio-friendly, to be incredible. I started to focus my efforts on the quirks of my playing and voice, and tried to turn them into elements of style for my music.”

After a couple of years of schooling in Fredonia and some experience playing bass with “a couple of older guys” in a band named Spun, Durfee returned to the Albany area to lick his wounds and tally up his musical strengths and weaknesses.

“I started to play with my acoustic more and more, and decided to take some lessons,” he says. “I spent about 2 1/2 months studying with Glenn Weiser, and took away some fingerpicking exercises that he’d shown me. I started to experiment with some open tunings, and felt like I’d had some sort of epiphany: I was able to take all the years of playing I had under my belt, and all of the years of songwriting I’d done, and have this whole new technique with which to create music. I wrote a lot of songs, and tried to keep them as honest as possible.”

With a newfound sense of purpose and direction, as well as a fresh batch of songs, Durfee started to make the open mic rounds in late 2005. Spring of 2006 saw him winning the Lark Tavern’s Singer-Songwriter Competition, with the music critics of Metroland crowning him 2006’s Best Male Singer- Songwriter a couple of months later. While the accolades were starting to trickle in for Durfee as a solo act, he surprised some with what occurred next—namely the formation of the duo known as Palatypus.

Poulopoulos, a recent college grad and blues-guitar aficionado, had started to visit area open-mic nights more and more in an effort to hone his singing and performing chops. While he was enjoying a good survey of some of the area’s most talented musicians at Artie’s River Street Stage in Troy, Durfee came in to play the open-mic one night and proceeded to impress Poulopoulos mightily.

“Matt’s fingerpicking and songwriting style amazed everyone in the room,” Poulopoulos says. “I recall the drifting smoke pausing for a listen.”

When Poulopoulos had his turn on the stage, Durfee was likewise affected.

“There was this incredible, honest vibe to the set, and the lyrics to his originals were so great, straight-ahead and memorable,” he recalls. A jam session was soon in the offing.

“We met up at his previous place on Parkwood Avenue, over by School 19,” Poulopoulos remembers. “We sat out on his 2nd-floor porch, and he laid down a golden melody on “Again by Your Window,” spun from alchemy. Too good to let pass, so fucking good.”
Palatypus have been hard at work ever since, branching out from local clubs like Red Square, Valentine’s an - Metroland

"WAMC Performance Place"

Michael Eck interviews us and lets us play some songs.

Here's the scoop and the link:

ALBANY NY (2007-08-22) The duo of Matt Durfee and Mike Poulopoulos recall an acoustic Dumptruck (no, not the vehicle, but the classic band featuring Seth Tiven and Kirk Swan)with their intertwining guitars and sweet harmonies.

Albany new folk duo mashes up Bob Dylan and Leo Kottke with a unique mix.

© Copyright 2007, WAMC


"Conversation with Palatypus - Matt Durfee & Mike Poulopoulos"

by Dan Johnson

On a rainy day in Albany, NY, I met with Mike Poulopoulos and Matt Durfee, the musicians behind Palatypus, a band that has recently recorded and released its first EP, Lazaretto, on Indian Ledge Records. The album is at once lyrical and abstract, with a thick bottom, bright guitar work, and lyrics that are well suited to the subjects of drinking, time, love, meaning. The album is rooted in the upstate sound practiced by bands like Knotworking and The Kamikaze Hearts.

The first song on the EP is “Dandelion Wine,” an ode to libation with great harmonica accompaniment and a kind of CSNY feel with breaks and runs in between the verses. The song is sung with an aplomb the boys typify in regards to drinking and love.

“Thanksgiving Day Parade,” penned by Durfee, is a study of place and person. Not content to settle for open guitar chords, the two have crafted some very inventive and layered tones. The sophistication of the chords contrast nicely with the lyrics of the song, which are strange, dark, and compelling.

The dark Poulopoulos song “All I Own” is a simple and beautiful effort to capture a worried man’s blues, with a brilliant hook and heartbreaking lyrics. The driven tempo and minor key hearken to a North Carolina murder ballad.

“Again By Your Window” is a love song, with a strong country strum and Poulopoulos’ plaintive voicing. “It’s late again and I know it/But your light is shining on my face/And I’ll be good to you baby/Take your hand and dance away the night.”

The EP concludes with “Horse To Folly,” another from the pen of the mighty Durfee, in which he invokes a permission: “Nothing lasts forever/So go ahead and change.” The album ends with this haunting song of a man conflicted, who has to accept his life as he has lived it, as it has been dealt to him.

Their EP is available at

Dan Johnson: I have heard “Thanksgiving Day Parade” and “Dandelion Wine” from the EP but I hadn’t heard the other three. When I heard them I was blown away and wanted to talk a little bit about the lyrics you guys are coming up with. I’d also like to talk about the music, how you create, and what your ideas are about them. First of all, who’s your audience? What do you guys think about your audience?

Mike Poulopoulos: I don’t know if an audience is really in mind when I’m writing tunes. If it sounds good it is good, you know. Duke Ellington.

Matt Durfee: Yeah, I definitely don’t write to anybody in particular. I don’t write with any kind of idea like, “I wonder if this is going to sound good.”

MP: A lot of people say that’s bullshit. You’re in the English program right now? You’re reading literary theory. Well, there’s always an audience in mind. Well, if there’s an audience in mind, it’s probably hidden somewhere. But not actively writing toward an audience.

DJ: That’s an interesting vein. What about the inner critic? Do you guys have problems with that at all?

MD: I’m the worst. I’m terrible with it. I’ve got stuff that has gotten thrown away because I can’t get it to work to a point where I’m satisfied with it. And lyrically, I think I’m the hardest on myself about that. It takes me a long time to get songs out for that reason. The melody will come pretty easily, you know. I can hear what I want to sing, but everything when I start writing it feels very trite to me sometimes. It feels very hackneyed, like this has all been done. But, got to get through it sometimes I guess.

DJ: That might lead into another question, which is one of my major interests. Tradition, or something to the effect of a musical tradition. What do you guys think, is there a musical tradition that you’re a part of? And how do you relate to that?

MP: I’m sure that there are sounds that whether consciously or subconsciously I have stolen. For instance, “All I Own.” At the time that I had written that, I had been listening to a lot of David Grisman and Jerry Garcia. I got that old sailor tune kind of feel, and I just kind of wanted to get something out with that feel, so it was a D minor, F, C, chord progression. That’s pretty much the entire tune, but it’s just got a little bit of a sailor tune feel to it. Listening all the time definitely has an effect. So regardless of whatever specific tradition anybody is listening to it’s most likely going to show in their music. I’d say Matt definitely listens to more Beatles than I do. Just by the way he writes tunes.

MD: I think that comes through, for sure. But yeah, I think I don’t do an awful lot of listening or I haven’t been the last couple years. I’ve almost actively not listened to a lot of music. But, recently I’ve been picking up some new stuff and really trying to make an effort to get my ears around some new stuff. And it helps. I’ve written three or four new songs recently. So it’s always kind of inspirational. I think either way, whenever you hear music—whether it’s somebody contemporar - State of Mind


Lazaretto (EP)
- All tracks available at:
or at:



Based out of Albany, N.Y., Palatypus draws from the best of the Country, Bluegrass and Folk music genres to create a distinct melodic and harmonic sound. Their songs evoke a spectrum of emotional states, ranging from the lament of loves gone wrong to the simple joys found in sharing a few drinks with friends. The duo focuses on well constructed vocal harmonies layered over the rhythm of Mike's and the melody of Matt's guitar. The songs are story driven, simultaneously metaphysical and visual, and captivate their audiences with deft acuity in their sensibility. Always entertaining and engaging, Palatypus continues to gain musical recognition and win fans throughout the North East.


- WEXT - 97.7 FM
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- WRPI - 91.5 FM
- WFNP - 88.7 FM
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- WRVU - 90.1 FM
- WMUD - the one and only MUD


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