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Music Reviews

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Castle Talk
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Everything in Between
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Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Matt Pond PA
Winter Songs
Altitude Records

Rating: 9/10 ?

February 14, 2005
While this EP is already impeccably titled, perhaps the one name that could trump its own is the "With Love, Matt Pond" EP. This is a dear effort, a labor of love, familiar smiles and warm, winter retreats - as good-natured as Pond himself.

Beginning with the also-perfectly-named "Snow Day," we hear Pond capture every ounce of the joy of being let off of school to play. Childlike and bundled-up, it disregards any danger hiding in the low degrees for the sake of being happy.

The bookend instrumentals, "Fall Two" and "Winter One", are wonderfully intricate menageries of sound; the first rises and falls in the blustery wind, and the second provides a heartened, lovely contrast, witnessing the quiet comfort of winter by a window sill.

The four remaining covers, then, are nothing but joy in recorded form. "Winterlong" is a blissfully-played, heartened rendition, with fantastically understated harmonies, slowed pace and a thick, homey feel. Comfortable like an old glove, the Neil Young homage fits him well. "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" is another well-chosen, gleefully played cover, with fittingly breezy, country undertones, pausing pace and laid-back reflection.

From there, his best results are the EP's last - vibrant tellings of "Holiday Road" and "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea".

"Holiday Road" is a super fun choice, especially when played in classic Matt Pond style. For those of you who were hoping, or conversely, even wincing, it doesn't sound like the original at all, instead moving like a shy, winded Christmas Carol, traipsing through trails of snow. Slowed to jolly folk with wintry bells, its tongue is firmly planted in cheek and its mouth is filled with warmed cider. Retiring and beautiful, what could have been silly is really a stunner.

In his final take, this time on Neutral Milk Hotel, his resolve waltzes, sways and crystallizes. As I'm not an NMH purist by any means, I won't call his reinterpretation blasphemy - it's beautiful in its own right, even if it doesn't sound exactly like the original. Swirling around it dances in wonder. It is at once lovely, dreamy and folky, with open-hearted sincerity and no trace of sarcasm.

Perhaps that's what makes Winter Songs so stellar; it's that Matt Pond is an old friend to many music lovers, and that every song he plays is so genuine, hand-delivered straight to our hearts. This is an EP to cherish and hold close, made to be shared with those you love.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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