The Matches: “A Band in Hope”

The Matches, an underground indie quartet from Oakland, California, brought something different to the table with their debut album, “E. Van Dahl Killed The Locals.” The new sound has been a breath of fresh air for many music enthusiasts, including me. The follow-up album, “Decomposer,” was expected to put them on the map, but it was a commercial flop. “A Band in Hope” is their third studio album.

The 14-song CD has a ­gentle sway between clinical depression and optimism. Buoyant songs like the first single, “Wake the Sun,” give off too much positive energy to be ­ignored and even the dismal songs have a way of brightening the darkest situations.

The Matches’ jazzy bass lines blend with the pop-rock guitar sounds to create a genre all their own. Shawn Harris’s vocals have a unique way of being incredibly deep while having a simple structure. “With a fistful of change, and absolutely no sense,” (from “What Katie Said”) is an excellent example.

It is said that after the disappointment of “Decomposer,” the band regrouped and rewrote the entire “A Band in Hope” album. Dealing with the flop has caused The Matches to mature quickly, which shows in their music. They no longer tell tales of MySpace romances but now sing about being professional musicians and how much commitment it takes.

I would definitely recommend The Matches to anyone who enjoys progressive, experimental music. I hope “A Band in Hope” takes them mainstream.

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