In 2009 I played a show where the only people in attendance were either venue staff or musicians actually playing at the event themselves. These kinds of turnouts are sent to test young musicians; a rite-of-passage that separates the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, and the true artists from the dilettantes. Myself, I grew tired of the non-existent, hostile, or (even worse!) ambivalent audiences pretty quickly, and have long-since retreated to the sidelines and the more cosy surrounds of an ‘informed observer’. One of the acts that shared the bill with me that night was not so easily defeated.
Matthew And The Atlas (the nom de guerre of songsmith Matt Hegarty) not only gave an excellent performance that night, but was also peddling an EP of fantastic quality. My review of the Scavengers EP has slowly but surely become one of my most-read posts on this site; proof that Matthew and the Atlas has kept going. Without any great fanfare or press attention, winning one fan at a time and building an audience the hard way, the debut Matthew and the Atlas album is finally on the horizon.
It's not often one finds delicate, folksy banjo playing and a rough-cut voice with a honey-glaze coupled with a majestic rock swagger, but from what I've heard of Other Rivers (due out in April) that's just what we're going to get. And to whet your appetite they've released a rather marvelous video for the lead single, Pale Sun Rose, which you can own on MP3 or seven-inch from the 23rd February. I love the pure heft of this track; I know it's early days, but if this isn't one of the 10 best songs of 2014 then we're in for one hell of a year.