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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Matt Schickele
Cities Filled with Lights
Feldspar Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
It is a very rare thing for a singer/songwriter like Matt Schickele to come along and put out an album that screams of utter confidence in the most modest of ways. Cities Filled With Lights finds the mastermind behind Beekeeper offering a decidedly un-pop pop album, with soft and lush melodies dancing with sparse guitar only instrumentation one minute and moving onto organ and piano filled works the next.

Matt Schickele is obviously a fan of the quirk, and pure pleasure comes from close listening and wondering what he'll do next. The breath of Ida, Will Oldham, Lou Barlow, Paul Simon, and Nick Drake can all be seen throughout the wintry cold album, as Matt travels down a snowy path of strangely sweet folk-pop.

At times sounding like a mix between Ira from Yo La Tengo and Ben Folds, Matt's shaky baritone is the constant that holds Cities Filled With Lights together. Virtually free of harmonies, Matt's effects free voice is right up front in the mix, bouncing along the top of his expressive piano playing and abstract guitar skill.

On songs like "Above the Air" with it's wishy washy keyboard effects (they sound like fucking steal drums, yo), the jumpy "Maybe", the jazzy "Split the Clouds," and the all out anthemic "So Why Pretend You're More Than Dumb?" Matt conveys a particularly moody and emotive style, pushing and pulling your ears in various directions, seemingly all at once.

It could be that Matt is just amusing himself with his humble pop compositions, but the obvious care and tact put into the crafting of these songs speak otherwise. Cities Filled With Lights certainly will not bowl you over with greatness, but it is a bittersweet little gem of an album filled with the kind of exuberance and quirk not usually found on softer pop records.

Reviewed by Ryan Allen
A former staff writer with fabulous hair, Ryan Allen once fronted Red Shirt Brigade with his brother, Scott. He currently fronts the art/fashion punk band Thunderbirds Are Now!, with is brother, Scott.

See other reviews by Ryan Allen



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