Tra.kz Artist Spotlight: Mat McHugh and the Blackbird (“Under the Landslide”)

The element of surprise has been a cornerstone of great music forever: think Bob Dylan’s electric revolution, or every second album by Neil Young, or the Clash’s outrageous triple-disc sprawl, Sandinista! All and none of them were on Mat McHugh’s mind when he took time out from his day job as founder-singer-songwriter of the Beautiful Girls to record this playful, profound and provocative solo debut, SEPERATISTA!

If you’ve never heard of Mat McHugh and the Blackbird, listen up: he will rock your world. Here’s a dreamy, pop-psych track called “Under the Landslide” off his new album, SEPERATISTA!, a free-floating animal of rare sensitivity and grace, recorded with a band largely seconded from the Sydney jazz scene. Off-kilter drums, deep bass, horns, piano, organ, melodica and cello flesh out Mat’s voice, acoustic guitar and occasional ukulele on an album rich in precious sonic details.

Each story traces its way back to Mat’s time spent in India and the Black Bird, which features in the Beautiful Girls song quiver, is back and central to the albums imagery, as Mat explains: “When I lived in India I stayed in an Ashram on the Ganges River where every morning before dawn a big black crow would land on my window sill and wake me. I was kind of spaced out at the time because of all the Malaria medication and I kept having these dreams that the bird was trying to tell me something.”

Be look out for big things in 2009 from Mat McHugh, Controlled Substance Sound Labs standout new artist.

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