Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Outrageous Cherry: Seemingly Solid Reality

By: Rinjo Njori


For the last sixteen years, Matt Smith has been releasing records with his band Outrageous Cherry. The self titled record that started their 10 album run sounds somewhat like most of the albums out in 1994, riding the grunge wave for all it was worth. Though to be fair, the harder songs on the album had more in common with Screaming Trees ("If Someone Loves You") and mid tempo tracks were more like The Replacements ("Party’s Over") than Pearl Jam or Soundgarden. More importantly, they sound like the same music Matt Smith is still banging out fourteen years later. His pop sensibilities are certainly easier on the ear and each sound in every song more fluid than chaotic.

Seemingly Solid Reality loosely pulls together eleven tracks that examine the life lived a little off-center. The self-titled instrumental title track which opens the album has a 70s sci-fi, western feel which immediately sets the bar high for the album. On the “The Happy Hologram," the same tone is revisited. Musically, it doesn't sound anything like Bowie's "Space Oddity" but it uses the same setting to establish a feeling of distance from humanity. In this song, it's not about the initial separation but how disconnected we become the more we achieve. "My Ghetto" and "Nothing's Changed" are as solid as any song that Matt Smith has written in the last fourteen years. These sunny tunes with "glass half empty" lyrics are layered with multiple guitar tracks, girl group backing vocals, and the resolve that this is Outrageous Cherry's life. Heather Phares alluded to their outlook in a review of Stay Happy, when she made the remark that Outrageous Cherry “find the cloud around the sliver lining. A place where pop music and everyday problems converge to fuel the music. Luckily, in addition to acting locally they also think globally: "Forces of Evil" and "Unamerican Girls" are flat out fun songs that try to explain the “why and how” as opposed to “this is how it is” in my world.

One thing that doesn't benefit this album is when the band strips down the songs. Most of the songs take advantage of every second but "Unbalanced in the City" and "The Unimportant Things" slow down the album. Where a millisecond between a riff and a vocal makes the song oddly disjointed. This doesn't matter on the latter but the former is the second track of the album. These songs just aren't as tight and suffer.

The sad part is that even though Outrageous Cherry have been kicking around they are still relatively unknown to the masses and for the most part ignored. However, catching up couldn't be a more enjoyable chore. Little Steven compiled a greatest hits compilation on Wicked Cool Records and Matt Smith shows no signs of slowing down. "Nothing's Changed" sums up their attitude the best, "I am just the same, even though nothing comes my way"- well, give Outrageous Cherry a try.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!