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When the Angels Make Contact

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Album Review

The follow-up to his self-titled album sees Matt Mays branching out from his garage-like, Neil Young rock motif. But the musician is quite capable of pulling this off thanks to some outstanding songs and odd but rather effective pieces. "The Past" is a pinch of country rap supported by a great, warm, folksy Americana feeling. Assisted by several friends such as Mike O'Neill and former bandmate in the Guthries Dale Murray, Mays veers into new territory with the title track that sounds like a mix of electronica and alt-country with better than expected results. A cameo appearance by Buck 65 doesn't hurt either. Another charmer has to be "1 For the Motor" that would fit perfectly on a Tom Petty solo effort like Highway Companion or Wildflowers. The album also contains its share of lengthier tracks such as the world-weary "Spoonful of Sugar" that never loses its momentum over the course of seven minutes. It's perfect driving music for long overnight treks. Mays also tends to tap into sparse, barren moments for some highlights, including "Heroine" that has some Springsteen characteristics to it. The first real rocker is "850 Commando" that harkens back to his self-titled album thanks to its bite and garage rock edge. The first miscue comes with "Midnight Is the Time" that is a mellow, groovy tune that has some cheesy vocoder work taking place as well. Unfortunately, another downbeat, organ-oriented ditty called "Under My Sense" also comes off a bit bland, resembling a poor man's attempt at trip-hop. The homestretch atones for these slight aberrations with the murky, surf-guitar sounding "J.J.'s Theme" that is strong yet ominous. "Mornin' Sun" wraps the album up — a nearly nine-minute odyssey that opens with a touch of gospel and slowly grows into a fine alt-country gem. Although there is a hair too much fat on this album, it is another solid record from this diamond in the rough.

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When the Angels Make Contact, Mays, Matt
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