For Us Not Them/iH8 Radio
"Must See: Matt Pless"
"Matt Pless: The New Forgotten Son"
The Brock Press
Broken Glass Kids, Matt Pless and the Ghostwrite at The Green Room ...Matt Pless played a spectacular set full of sporadic stage presence and strong lyrics. On some of his songs, he just spits what seems like a novel’s worth of intelligent, rhyming political discourse at the crowd who hang on to every carefully crafted phrase.His songs range in speed, but he truly excels with the ultra fast, hardcore punk, as well as slowed down and mellow tracks that are self-reflective and profound. His guitar playing is also excellent and his songwriting is clearly superb.
“I wrote my first songs when I was in third grade,” Pless explained. “I got into punk rock and then everyone was like ‘you’re good at lyrics’. Later, I got into Bob Dylan’s lyricism. The punk and folk influence kind of came together after that, and I started to make that kind of music.”
Since 2011/12, Pless has been on the road non-stop, playing all across America; this show was his first Canadian appearance. He also has a new album that he is working on and is going to start recording when he gets back to Baltimore. The album will be “back to basics”, with half of it acoustic and the other half full band.
The Modern Folk Music of America
Review of Tumbleweed
Matt Pless - Tumbleweed
baltimore, MD's matt pless hit me up from the middle of a cross country tour to ask me to write a little about his latest album. "Tumbleweed" is a solid, no frills collection of emotionally confessional folk punk songs. there isn't any production aside from guitar and the occasional harmonica, but the playing/singing is solid throughout, there is even a traditional 'talking blues', in the mode of woody guthrie, about the information age, in which matt name checks william blake, which if you've followed this spot for awhile you know won me over. there is a good mix of uptempo, snotty type punk songs and softer more reflective finger plucked ballads. Matt's in the middle of his tour so check here for show dates and maybe help him fill in some gaps. name your own price for this album, as well as several other ones, right here.
The Houston Press
5 Unknown Songwriters who Deserve to be Heard
Matt Pless hails from Baltimore, but these days, he lives everywhere. His nonstop troubadouring across the country recalls Woody Guthrie; but Pless's songwriting style is influenced by Guthrie's biggest fan, Bob Dylan.
He probably hates it, but it's hard not to make comparisons. Pless's brunette, wavy locks recall Dylan's Blonde on Blonde moment. Aside from the look, his lyrics have the bard-like precision, wit and impact of early Dylan. He's prolific -- he's released two CDs this year, The Bus Stop EP and Tumbleweed, which is a personal favorite because it features the sort of existential self-knowledge I gravitate to in lines like "life's a high you can't sustain." Listen to the clever rhyme scheme and American themes in "What You Will" and it's like you're hearing the modern reboot of "Subterranean Homesick Blues."
Apart from his voice, which runs in higher registers, he's damn near the youngest son of an Elston Gunn.
Review of Tumbleweed by HP Writes Stuff
Tumbleweed by Matt Pless 4/5
“Life’s a High you can’t sustain” Matt Pless’s whining voice orates over track opener, Ashtray. That is the kind of line that wraps up the humour and disappointment that Pless evokes throughout this album. Even though Ashtray is driven by rousing and sparkling acoustic guitar, lyrics are what Pless concentrates on. His words don’t sit out alone, however, they’re a means to present the world with his version of being pissed off. Being pissed off apparently involves that acoustic guitar, cute folk/pop and being a bit of a laugh. Frankly it’s how pissed off everywhere should probably look and sound.
Pless was involved in the Occupy Movement and presented his music as a vehicle of protest. And don’t worry, there is plenty of anti-system, fuck the bank-sters sentiment on here, but I tend fall for the more introspective tunes when he turns the malaise magnifying glass on himself. My Crooked Ways is one of those infectiously catchy songs tinged with a hard bitterness and just enough self-disrespect.
The slower songs on the LP and finger plucking on them gives up images of crooning Americana and folk singers like Bob Dylan and J.J. Cale (R.I.P.), but still Pless insists on his sly wit getting through regardless. Probably more like Dylan on his Freewheelin’ album. In factTalkin’ Information Blues is a direct homage to Dylan’s Talking World War III Blues but with Pless' venting is aimed at internet usage. This is an album for those looking for protest music for today and for those wanting their scathing to come with a side of humour. For those who are a little less interested in leftist politics or just don’t want it in their music, don’t be discouraged. Do you like bacon? Do you like milkshakes? His tribute to both is laid out on the table on the richly bizarre My Idea of Heaven and proves this is an album with something for everyone (except vegetarians and those who are lactose intolerant).
Review of "Tumbleweed" by Bedside Manner Collective...
7 or 8 years ago I mail-ordered a boxed set of 7 cds with packaging built from a collapsed barn from a quirky singer/songwriter known as Captain Chaos. I think only 50 were made and I listened to these 7 CDs non-stop for almost six months. That was my introduction to folk-punk, or whatever you wanna call it. I have no idea what Chaos is up to these days, but listening to Matt Pless leaves me with a sense of nostalgia, bringing me back to that time period and reminding me that “you never forget your first.” I don’t listen to many bands/singer/song-writers of the genre, but the few I do listen to really stand out. I imagine, like any other genre, that countless bands exist that sound the same and follow the same sentiment/ideals, however I’m willing to bet that only a few persevere because of their hard work, dedication and well, song-writing ability. Matt Pless is one of them.
“Tumbleweed,” the latest full length of Matt’s impressive repertoire of musical output, houses 12 hook-friendly tunes that will have you singing along, nodding your head, tapping your foot, giggling and thinking. Mr. Pless calls upon various literary elements to keep his words interesting and clever with an extreme honest and almost uncomfortable undertone. In 12 tracks he sings of everything from letting his father down, drug use, minor crime sprees, love, god, technology and tall/short tales which all could be metaphors (that really happened). His use of humor and his catchy melodies make his message clear and accessible, while adhering to the “don’t take yourself too seriously” protocol. You won’t find the distraction of over-production, over instrumentation or tasteless noodling on Tumbleweed. What you will find is one guitar and one friendly voice ready and willing to make your day that much better.
Matt toured and continues to tour extensively on the album, hitting the DIY circuit hard and relentlessly. Chances are Matt Pless played your town in some barn, basement, living room, storefront, street corner, kitchen etc and you probably missed it. Don’t fret. I’m sure he will return, so keep a look out because he is definitely worth checking out. Listen to “Tumbleweed” below.
10th Annual Great American Song Contest
Finalist – Contemporary Acoustic Folk
"In the Past Tense" by Matt Pless
Finalist – Contemporary Acoustic Folk
"In the Past Tense" by Matt Pless
Punk Globe - online music zine
I walked in to the dimly lit church as Jubilee tapped out the rhythm of her last a cappella song on her knee. Her voice quivered as she sang a line about her little brother’s dinosaur shorts. I stood in the back and fixed a stare to the square frames of her glasses. I flashed a smile and waved to a few friends who I heard say my name. The metal chair she was sitting in and the wood floor beneath her were singing with her, the crowd’s silence was singing too. The song couldn’t have lasted more than a minute or two, but time stretched from wall to wall. I got a few hugs from people I hadn’t seen in a while between Jubilee’s set and Matt Pless. Matt, a dude I’d met a few times, was really on his game that night. The wild-eyed, curly-haired Yale grad is about as close as anybody could hope to come nowadays to 1965-66 Dylan. The amphetamine-fueled, powder- powered “Crayon Song,” railed the audience into a world of colorful melancholy. Think “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” but shorter and catchier. I wish I remembered more names of songs he played that night, they all bled into each other; he strummed and sang with an intimate rasp. There was one about the Grand Canyon I really liked and some stories he told throughout the set that I enjoyed. He has a record with a full band coming out in April. I hope nobody cuts the cords to the amplifiers. Matt’s one of those people, like Bob Dylan, whose pulsing electric dreamscapes can’t always be contained in the strings of an acoustic guitar, I’m interested to see where he goes next.
In the Past Tense by Matt Pless
“Love the song…this really spoke to my heart”
-Carolyn Hart (widow of Bobby Hart Boyce and Hart)
Justice Through Music Press
Unity Music 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.
An Evening with Matt Pless by Brian Holsey
Baltimore Band Examiner (Online)
"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 CDBaby.com, 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.
Another Fan: Matt is without a doubt the Bob Dylan of our generation. The variety of subjects and musical styles he can write/compose for is incredible for someone who is a true solo artist. No producers, no managers...everything you hear on his albums are from his musical genius/heart. Indeed, give credit to the talented musicians who played on his records as they did a stellar job as well. Thank you Mr. Holsey for this nice account of Matt! I only hope appreciation for music with something to say becomes more popular instead of the trend of the mainstream.
Seven Summer Sessions, NYC
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.
(Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America)
(Translated) 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.
BackStage: Los Angeles
LA’s REAL Music Interview TV Show
"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!"
by Greg Yost
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.
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.
Jezebel Music, Brooklyn, NY
Fans have seen his songwriting reach a new level in the past year. The once Violent-Femmes-meets-Dylan bratiness 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.
“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.”