The Matt Angus Thing
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The Matt Angus Thing

| INDIE

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Band Rock Americana

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Jul
09
The Matt Angus Thing @ Black Potatoe Music Festival

Clinton, New Jersey, USA

Clinton, New Jersey, USA

May
09
The Matt Angus Thing @ Triumph Brewery

New Hope, Pennsylvania, USA

New Hope, Pennsylvania, USA

May
06
The Matt Angus Thing @ 169 Bar

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

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This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Matt Angus has the song of the year...'Why Can't I?' - Bob Makin


Matt Angus is an appealingly earnest lead vocalist...and has a dedicated, determined band. - Jay Lustig


While the jam scene has slowly shifted away from tasteful playing and headed toward repetive noodling, it is refreshing to see a band that combines intelligent musicianship with the most important end of music...the song.  Matt Angus' songwriting is just that...intelligent. - Jack Devaney


By ROBIN RENEE
Correspondent

Some bands might run screaming from a word like "pop," which may bring to mind the disposable candy tunes of Britney or boy band lite-fare. They might hedge their bets by staying away from "political," which could land you in a fiery fray between left and right. The Matt Angus Thing avoids neither, and with gusto.

Gearing up to celebrate the release of its first full-length, "Political Pop," the band brings its rootsy rock 'n' soul harmonies to the Stanhope House on Friday at 9:30 p.m.

"I've made the record I wanted to make," says band leader Matt Angus.

He is pleased with its balance that allows the personal to be only as political as the listener would like to hear. Save for the wonderfully goofball critique, "President's Son," and a hidden track to make the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws proud, the lyrics on "Political Pop" leave room for interpretation.

There is plenty of warmth, familiarity, and, yes -- pop -- on this debut. Merging the contemporary, yet tried-and-true essence of Blues Traveler and Counting Crows with the sonic integrity and live feel of the Dave Matthews Band, Matt Angus Thing reaches back even farther, and owes much to classics like The Band and Johnny Cash. Indeed, Levon Helm (drummer-vocalist, The Band) lends his talents and a Cash tribute is realized with "Folsom Prison Blues." Bernie Worell (keyboards, P-Funk, Talking Heads) and members of the stellar Harlem Gospel Choir also contribute to this uniquely American mix.

While Angus may prefer most of his lyrics remain open-ended for the listener, in conversation he is perfectly comfortable with making his strong political views known.

"On the whole, the record is about how the American people are on a higher level than the media and the politicians," he says.

Meanings deepen when you know that several songs were written in the aftermath of 9/11, like "Understand" and the little-bit-o-soul swing, "If." "Caught Onto You," a muted country twang tune that at first passes for love-on-the-rocks, is about none other than George Dubya.

Angus at first considered leaving off the overt sentiment of "President's Son," but chose not to bow to censorship by way of conservative political climate.

"I had to do it," he says, "for my own peace of mind."

Sound still remains true alongside message. "Sweet" is a love song with an easy rock 'n' roll croon. "Stand" shines with first-rate guitar and big gospel power.

Whether musical, political or spiritual, a piece of the artistic puzzle, for Angus, is to be driven.

"For music, I believe you need to have a belief in something," he says. - Courier News April 1st, 2004


by Christian Bauman

Mar 22, 2004


When members of the Harlem Gospel Choir and Levon Helm lend voice to a white band from western New Jersey, you sit up and take notice. Soul, folk, blues, rock, gospel. Welcome to the world of Matt Angus and the Matt Angus Thing. “I call it roots music,” Angus says. Call it eclectic, call it rockin’, call it good. It takes form and takes a hold of listeners on the new release Political Pop.


These are seasoned players, and there’s no mistaking that from the opening to the close. Solid rhythms, smoking guitars, fluid and graceful sound. And what about those politics? Nobody from New Jersey is ever shy about speaking their mind. Songs like “What You’re Hearing” and “President’s Son” capture a nationwide mood and feel right now. But even when it’s not in your face, a listener here finds more to chew on than immediately meets the ear, especially on second and third listenings. The opening cut, “Brings You Down” (which, by the way, rocks on music alone), is a straightforward lyric on first listen, but takes on a new life in context of the album as a whole. Ignorance causing chaos, love without understanding. “Caught on to You” speaks from title alone. Names from the news find themselves in these songs—Rachel Corrie, Timothy Thomas, places like Jenin over there and Folsom right here. And in the best tradition of Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash these are the forgotten who Angus sings about here, the downtrodden, those without voice of their own.


Matt Angus says his favorite line on the album is “I could spend one thousand words, one thousand ways, and never tell you how I feel” (from “Sweet”). Likewise, in what seems a thousand ways, this album sets to music what many of us are feeling right now—about our lives, our relationships, our country. - Christian Bauman - Songwriter, Novelist ("The Ice Beneath You" - Scribner 2002)


Discography

1. Political Pop - Matt Angus Thing (Spring 2004) Features Levon Helm on the track "Understand", The Harlem Gospel Choir on "Understand" and "Stand" and Bernie Worrell on "Jenin"

2. Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares Vol. #1

3. @ Atomic Volume 3

4. Face The Day - Angus, Produced by John Ginty

5. Outstanding in Their Field - Angus, Produced by Carter Humphrey

6. Mama Says - Christine Martucci, Produced by Matt, with Randy, Chris, Tom, Walt Bibinger & Kim Williams

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Take the roots of The Band, the energy of The Allman Brothers, mix in a bit of Johnny Cash for integrity’s sake, sprinkle in the soul of The Staple Singers, and you’ve got the Matt Angus Thing, a dynamite rock ‘n’ roll act that makes fans the old-fashioned way. They earn them.

Led by a respected scene maker within New Jersey’s prolific music community, Matt Angus Thing has been slugging it out on the road for two years, building a grass-roots following of loyal fans from the hallowed rock halls of Boston to the fertile American music ground of New Orleans. All along the way, M.A.T.’s rich roots rock has worked like wind to a sail.

With a full-length debut just completed, Matt Angus – also bassist Randy Artiglere, guitarist Chris Hedges and drummers Tom Nelson and Dave Becker, all of whom rate among the most sought-after players in the New Jersey music scene – will continue to tour frequently while expanding its fan base.

“The bottom line is that you have to have fans,” says Angus, whose Clinton, N.J.-based Atomic Productions and Black Potatoe Records not only have served as a springboard for Matt Angus Thing and the frontman’s previous unit, an improvisational folk-rock combo simply called Angus, but also several other independent acts. Black Potatoe has released more than a dozen CDs and its motto always has been “support your independents.”

Besides his own label, Angus also is responsible for the Black Potatoe Festival, an annual indie-friendly gathering of bands along the scenic South Branch of the Raritan River in the scenester’s quaint hometown of Clinton, N.J. The festival has tripled in growth during its first six years, presenting such legendary acts as Levon Helm of The Band, Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane, Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers Band and Buckwheat Zydeco. The festival will return next summer. Angus also is a co-founder of Jersey Jams Fund (www.jerseyjamsfund.org), a United Way music education program for New Jersey children that has raised more than $32,000 for music scholarship and mentorship and the promotion of them.

Frequently appearing with an exuberant horn section and soulful backing singers, including members of the Harlem Gospel Choir, M.A.T. can pare down to a kickin’ four-piece with Angus on a black acoustic guitar, much like his hero, Johnny Cash. As timelessly friendly as it is immediately familiar, Angus’ Americana music also is like Cash in that it frequently takes a stand. Among the accomplished songwriter’s best works are the anti-tobacco anthem, “Why Can’t I?”, and the hysterical, country-gospel dis of “President’s Son” about a spoiled, privileged George W. Bush. But then there’s also the R&B-charged “That Night,” which has gotten many a dance floor moving.

“That’s what we set out to do,” Angus says, “move people, whether it be emotionally, physically or intellectually. “But at the end of the day, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, so you shouldn’t think too much about it,” he adds with a wink. “I just love music,” Angus says. “I just want people to hear good music.”

For the time being, Angus will concentrate on touring and preparing the release of M.A.T.’s forthcoming debut, “Political Pop,” a mix of fun, energetic roots rock and message songs that look inspiringly at how corrupted and ineffective national and world leadership has created a storm of trouble that needs to be remedied immediately.