Matt Whipkey’s “Best New Music” Reviewed
My problem with Omaha favorite son Matt Whipkey is that he made on album in 2013 so great, I mean Yankee Hotel Foxtrot great, Penny Park: Omaha, NE: Summer 1989, that ever since then there has been a touch of the “yes but” about him. Yes, but, if you listen to Underwater, his 2015 release of downer rock grooves, round about now we should be simply very happy to have the picture of a rock star around to keep on releasing just about impeccable recordings. Whipkey is skilled at everything that matters, a gifted songwriter, with a scratchy tough but sweet voice, tousled blonde haired aging rock star handsomeness, and a terrific on stage presence. All this makes him an old fashioned throwback to the golden age of rock and a skilled practitioner of magpie songwriting like building blocks to greater selves.
Earlier this year Matt released a single , “Fred, You’re Dead” that is not only one of the, if not the, best anti-Trump songs I’ve heard, but simply one of the top songs of the year . Tomorrow he releases an instantaneously, insanely catchy album, Best New Music, filled with swing and hits classic rockisms that from the chiming jangle Byrdzy zoom zoom McGuinn Rickenbacker on “Aliens” to the Southern rock Tom Pettyish “Nothing’s Broken” very next song to the totally one of a kind “Awful Love,” clever cleverness, is guitar rock like we don’t ever hear any more. The album is a mad sprint 27 minutes of songs you will be putting on playlists all summer long.
Whipkey considers this his pop move (there is a political rocker follow up in the wings, and a Pledge Music here to help finance it) and if you put the two albums together I bet the double down would move seamlessly, the way Springsteen’s The River once did, between dark and light. Taken by itself, It’s as though even his closing acoustic ballad “Hazel Angel” has an ease in its own skin, that makes Best New Music so graceful it is almost Zen like in its carefree good humor. In a world where everything is woke, or broken, or broke, the album is a glorious piece of escapism into pop. Melodies to make us safe, if you prefer.