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Top Five Fridays: Matt Wheeler & Vintage Heart

July 10, 2015

Hey Folks,

It’s time for Top Five Fridays!  This is the part of the week where you the music fan win big.  You get to be introduced to a stellar act selected by yours truly, and said stellar act in turn hooks you up with five of their favorite LPs.  The result is a deep reservoir of music that should satisfy your thirst for quite some time!  Today we are headed back to Lancaster PA, a hot bed for americana/roots music, to listen to the insightful lyrics and memorable melodic musings of Matt Wheeler & Vintage Heart.  Those loyal readers amongst you might recall that we visited Lancaster a couple weeks back, when Vulcans came on board to talk about some of their favorite jams.

Matt Wheeler

Matt Wheeler

After hearing nothing but good things for quite some time, I finally decided the best way to catch Matt Wheeler live would be to book a show with him on a bill with my band Seasons.  Though Matt often plays with a full group, this show was acoustic.  I could not have asked for a better introduction.  It takes guts to do the whole “just man with a guitar” thing; your songs are laid bare, no gimmicks, no distractions.  Matt’s work more than holds up in this light.  There is a thought out, literary quality to the lyrical work that I really appreciate.  Heck, I’ll sign off on anyone who writes songs that reference “The Old Man Man and The Sea.”  Matt’s latest release, the 2013 EP “Indigo,”  features some of my favorite work of his, including “River (A Dark Chase)” and the title track.  So with out further ado, folks give it up for Matt Wheeler as he shares some of his recent favorites!

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Josh Garrels – “Love & War & the Sea in Between

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     This is the album that turned me on to Josh Garrels, who has since become one of my favorite songwriters. That was only reinforced by his fantastic performance at The TLA in Philadelphia recently. Josh Garrels’ songwriting style is so raw & honest – just listen to the beautiful “Ulysses” or the haunting “White Owl” to see what I mean – & he can even drop some rhymes, as on the song “The Resistance”. Highly recommended.
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The Brilliance – “Brother
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     Few artists make worship music (they actually call it “liturgical music”) as fascinating, as earnest, or as brilliant (pardon the pun) as The Brilliance. I love the strings, & songs like “Breathe”, “Does Your Heart Break?”, & “May You Find a Light” are simply stunning, & convey the wonder of faith in God.
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Wilco – “Sky Blue Sky
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 While many prefer Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”, “Sky Blue Sky” is Wilco’s best work hands-down, in my opinion. “Impossible Germany” is one of my favorite songs, with its easy flow & mind-blowing guitar solos. The whole thing is just so listenable & smooth as a cohesive package. And it’s even better on vinyl.
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Kings of Convenience – “Riot on an Empty Street
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     This Norwegian duo does more with less than any other artist I can think of. Many songs are just their two guitars & two voices – with some strings on some songs – but they just do what they do so well. Interestingly, I had a dream last year before I played a short tour of New England, a dream in which I was on stage singing a song with them, but couldn’t recall all of the words. I subsequently bought the two albums of theirs that I didn’t already have & made their music the soundtrack of my trip. From the opening track “Homesick”, through “Misread”, “Cayman Islands”, & the unexpectedly upbeat & danceable “I’d Rather Dance with You”, this album has so many solid tracks, & rewards multiple listens because of its depth.
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Great Lake Swimmers – “A Forest of Arms
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Great Lake Swimmers’ excellent album “Ongiara” is my favorite by them, but their recent release “A Forest of Arms” is a rich, varied collection of songs that has been getting repeated spins in my house. “Something Like a Storm”, “One More Charge at the Red Cape”, & “The Great Bear” display Tony Dekker’s vivid songwriting & his affinity for nature. This is Canadian folk at its best.
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Thanks for being a part of this Matt!  I’m totally with you on “Sky Blue Sky” being the best Wilco album.  The combination of Tweedy’s songs and Nels Cline’s out of the box guitar playing just makes that record.  Cline actually just released a stellar album in 2014 entitled “ROOM” with jazz guitarist Julian Lage.  No tricks, no bells and whistles, just two fantastic guitarist going for each other’s throats.
Folks, you know the drill!  You can follow Matt on a variety of platforms, including Facebook, twitter, and his website.  The man keeps up a rigorous tour schedule so sooner or later you should be able to catch him!  You can buy Matt’s tunes on his band camp.
And as always folks, remember that you can look at all our past Top Five Fridays over in the archive.
well peace out good people of the world,
Peter Winter
Peter was going to work out more this summer, but then he realized that would get in the way of two of his major hobbies; drinking beer and sitting down.  Instead of getting in shape, he has instead decided to write more about music, which goes along better with the two afore mentioned activities.  You can see how it’s going for him on twitter: @peterwinter38
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One Comment
  1. Backline permalink

    Sky Blue Sky > Yankee Hotel Foxtrot EVERY day. Impossible Germany was actually the first Wilco song I ever heard!

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