Thursday, August 28, 2008
Matthew Good Band - "Beautiful Midnight"
"Beautiful Midnight" by Matthew Good Band is quite literally the best album no one remembers. Even though this album was a hit in Canada and they won two Juno awards (Canada's equivalent of the Grammys), it never quite caught on in the US. I remember some of their videos off this album being played on the now-defunct TV channel MuchMusic (now Fuse), which was a Canadian channel.
The music ranges on this album from slow, ethereal, and haunting to pounding and visceral. It showcases the versatility of the musicians. It is unapologetically hard rock music, yet it stands above many of their peers at the time due to the lyrics.
The lyrics stand firm as commentary on society, although at face value they could also describe romantic relationships or friendships gone wrong. "The Future Is X-Rated" attacks the disposable nature of the world today with lyrics such as "And now they've got drive through/And a video store where there used to be real live actors." Matthew Good snarls the lyrics through some kind of computerized synthesizer, adding a more menacing aspect to his words.
Interestingly, the title of each track on this album lists a specific time of the day before the name of the song, such as "06:00 PM Hello Time Bomb".
Track listing of the Canadian (original) version from 1999:
1. 05:00 PM Giant
2. 06:00 PM Hello Time Bomb
3. 07:00 PM Strange Days
4. 08:00 PM I Miss New Wave
5. 09:00 PM Load Me Up
6. 10:00 PM Failing The Rorschach Test
7. 11:00 PM Suburbia
8. 12:00 AM Let's Get It On
9. 01:00 AM Jenni's Song
10. 02:00 AM Going All The Way
11. 03:00 AM A Boy And His Machine Gun
12. 04:00 AM The Future Is X-Rated
13. 05:00 AM Born To Kill
14. Sun Up Running For Home
Some tracks included were different on the US version, released in 2001, the song "Deep Six" replaced "I Miss New Wave" and "Everything Is Automatic" replaced "Going All The Way". Also the song "Apparitions" replaced "Let's Get It On."
The song "Everything Is Automatic", much in the vein of "The Future Is X-Rated", criticizes the "skin-deep" view of society today: "Down a hole, up a rope/Down some pills, up some hope/This karma machine only takes quarters/New age soldier, new age soldier." I wonder if this album didn't catch on in America because it criticizes the shallow lifestyle so many are content to live. As a nation, we stereotypically enjoy gossip magazines, reality shows, and McDonald's, not post-modern critiques of a greedy society. It also may be the album's release date in America (2001) that doomed it. Songs such as "God Bless The USA" and Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" - in other words, patriotic songs - were quite popular towards the end of the year, after September 11th, and rightfully so. At that period in time, people might not have wanted to hear criticism from musicians. "Beautiful Midnight" was certainly not the hopeful message the country wanted - and needed to hear.
The album is actually phenomenal from start to finish, but the stand out tracks are "Hello Time Bomb", "Strange Days", "Suburbia", "Jenni's Song", and "The Future Is X-Rated". It's certainly worth a listen.
And maybe now, at a period in time where people are dissatisfied with the current government, the message of "Beautiful Midnight" may actually resonate more.