Matt North

REVIEW: Matt North “Bullies In the Backyard”


Matt North – Bullies In the Backyard

One thing’s certain Matt North sounds like a well-developed original musician from the first notes of “The Last Angry Man.” Is it revolutionary? No. Is it something you never heard before? No. What’s provided here is a clean, energetic, lean-brass roots-Rock that’s about as buried deep & rich as truffles. Only these fungi bring a suave beat, with powerfully flavored melodies & everything that made the original rock music so ass-kicking original.

Then, on cut 2 instead of duplicating this type of tune for momentum North goes into ballad mode with subtle sound & lyrics that resonate with soaring guitars & a steady melancholy beat. Potent stuff.

Produced by Matt North — Bullies In the Backyard (Drops Feb 11– Round Badge) are 10 tunes that run the gamut through savory music. “Trophy Case,” is a myriad of tight sounds not embellished by special effects, showboating, or soaring musicianship but decorated by good vocals with 60s rock n’ roll sting.

It would be easy to say this LP has garage rock quality, but it doesn’t – it’s too polished despite its street credentials. Then there are standard suited songs like “Seat At The Table.” A song that could’ve been written by Leonard Cohen & performed by Steve Earle. That’s the mentality of Mr. North. It works. It’s easy to understand. Not so easy to accomplish.

Michigan-born Matt North (drums/lead vocals) has worn many hats in his varied career. In Nashville he’s joined by Stuart Mathis on guitar (Lucinda Williams), Chris Donohue on bass (Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris), Michael Webb on piano, B3, Wurlitzer, Vox Continental (John Fogerty). Also: Matt Fish (cello), Jesse Natale, Siobhan Maher Kennedy, Foley Levon North (vocals). The brass: Kirk Donovan (trumpet), Paul Thacker (sax), & Diego Vasquez (trombone).


Falling back to a more country-inspired showcase is the driving “Firing Squad,” a toe-tapping, foot-stomping, finger-snapping winner. The LP’s filled with nothing but spark & energy. The musicians drop right inside each tune with ease & add their stylistically diverse stamp.

Each song to a degree has a signature break, sound, or approach – similar to what Steppenwolf did in their initial 60s hits “Born To Be Wild,” “Magic Carpet Ride,” & “Rock Me.” Each had a break that was separate from the main melody, almost like an intermission. Cooked up a scintillating appealing rain of sound. Matt’s CD is a banquet.

It comes again with “Top of the Fridge,” — almost novelty in nature, but performed with gusto, penetrating guitar, & backup singing — cream on top of the pudding. North knows how to shape his words lyrically, add punch musically & leave a trail of his own melodic smoke.

With grinding distorted guitars “Plan B,” concludes with Jonny Polonsky (added vocals). Simply polished to a high shine. This guy Matt North is no wanna-be…he’s got Authenticity. Capital A.

The 32-minute CD is available @

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