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PREMIERE: Matt Pond PA looks back and inward on the reflective Skeletons and Friends LP

Matt Pond PA | photo by Anna Larina | courtesy of the artisr
Matt Pond PA | photo by Anna Larina | courtesy of the artisr

Matt Pond PA caught my ear back in my college days with Measure, an elegant collection of songs released on a tiny Philly label called File 13. On that album, followed in quick succession by two excellent Polyvinyl releases — The Nature of Maps and The Green Fury, both from 2002 the eponymous songwriter showed that he was a man on a creative streak, an artist who had no reservations about bringing cello and violin into the indierock community, a musician who surrounded himself with a rotating cast of players who could make acoustic guitars and brush drumsticks more invigorating than pedalboards and cranked vintage amps.

Streaks like this often end. Pond’s didn’t. I’ve kept up with his career over the subsequent decade and three-quarters, and his work has maintained a consistently high caliber. Whether you’re talking about the outstanding Several Arrows Later (with its one-two opening punch of “Halloween” into “So Much Trouble”) or the very introspective Dark Leaves LP (which was briefly toyed with as a new band name), all the way up to last year’s Winter Lives and its effervescent single “The Glow,” his records are consistently impressive works. Even the many EPs and one-off singles across the MPPA catalog — 2001’s solemn I Thought You Were Sleeping, the seasonal 2005 outing Winter Songs (dude’s overarching vibe is autumn leaves, the outdoors and snow) 2008’s The Freeep (quite literally, a free EP) and its followup The Threeep — I mean, this is stuff that a lesser artist might use merely as stopgap fillers, as half-assed placeholders, but Pond doesn’t half-ass anything.

Which brings us to the man / the band’s latest, Skeletons and Friends, Pond’s god-dang twelfth full length and a remastered / expanded revisit of a project originally began in 2014. When we were approached about premiering it, it was described as “an in-between album.” And, as I’d expect from Pond, it’s as finished a product as you’ll ever hear. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Matt Pond PA brings his wintry charm to WCL

Matt Pond PA / Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Matt Pond PA / Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Matt Pond PA‘s music was made for the long drive home, for the precious little time spent with family. The music off his new record Winter Lives evokes images of snow-capped pines and valleys dusted in white. His lyricism evokes imagery of a world that, while rife with problems, is still beautiful. His music, especially from this latest record, instills a belief that there is somehow still love out there, a belief, foremost, in people.

That belief shone throughout his Free at Noon set; starting with “In Winter” he made the room warm up with lyrics like “the cold will bring us close”, a welcome sentiment in a time where, frighteningly, everyone feels slightly more distant than usual. “The Glow,” a song written for Pond’s mother, was rife with vibrant guitar, and painted a beautiful picture of a family and all its messy dynamics in the dead of winter. Songs like “So Much Trouble”, “Love To Get Used” and “Halloween” showed Pond’s take on all the vicissitudes of life; humans, as it turns out, are still complicated. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Matt Pond PA

Photo by Sean Hansen, courtesy of Riot Act Media.
Photo by Sean Hansen, courtesy of Riot Act Media.

Back in 2005, I started to hear a lot about this guy Matt Pond and PA, which I guessed was the state he was living in. Ever the curious listener, I decided to find out what kind of music he was making, what the talk was all about, so I picked up the new album, Matt Pond PA‘s Several Arrows Later. For me and many others, this album became the gateway into the rich and textured imagination of Pond. Perfectly crafted melodies, a glimmering sheen around the instruments, and an undeniable energy that keeps you listening (and often dancing) from track to track. It also feels seasonal – we start in the autumn with “Halloween” and end up with the hope of promise of warmer weather in “Spring Provides.” There’s no doubt that throughout the years this album has helped me to inject a modicum of brightness and color into the eternal grey of mid-winter. Thank Pond.
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Studies in Contrast: Matt Pond PA and Laura Stevenson don’t back down at The Foundry

Matt Pond PA | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com
Matt Pond PA | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com

There was always an interesting contrast in singer and songwriter Matt Pond when he lived in Philadelphia. Under the nom-de-stage matt pond PA, he spent the late 90s and early aughts making albums and EPs of touching, beautifully-orchestrated songs awash in cello and meditative acoustic guitar. But he also came up during the Guided by Voices heyday when crowds at Philly clubs were largely indie-bros who binge-drank and talked loudly over everybody, even the people they were ostensibly there to see. Pond had no patience for that shit, and rightfully so. And over time, the guy who wrote these sensitive, personal songs developed a local rep for being something of an angry and aggressive crank – when, really, he was just dishing back the attitude the crowd was giving him.

Those who were there at the time know how the story proceeded. Pond eventually amassed a local fan base that came for him, not for the scene, but he nonetheless left Philly for New York where his career blossomed in ways none of us expected. He got songs placed in TV and film, developed a strong national profile and released Several Arrows Later, a timeless work that is remarkably uncynical and sentimental, considering that it came from somebody who was at that point nearly a decade into a career on the brutal chew-em-up-spit-em-out indie circuit. He remains a prolific writer and recorder, and after a solo LP – The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand – he revived the “PA” moniker for a run celebrating the 10th anniversary of Emblems, followed up by this year’s State of Gold.

It’s a beautiful record as only Pond can deliver, and his gig at The Foundry in support of it a couple weeks back – rumored to be the final matt pond PA tour – was equal parts moving and rousing. “So Much Trouble” and “Halloween” were immediate winners off the top, and “Love To Get Used” brought the main set to a tremendous close. The proceedings were also, Pond being Pond, a little cantankerous.  Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Matt Pond PA at Union Transfer, Israel Nash at Kable House, The Left Banke at Sellersville Theater

Matt Pond / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Matt Pond / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

Acoustic indie favorites Matt Pond PA play Union Transfer tonight to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their album Several Arrows Later. Released at the point when the Philadelphia / New York City outfit was beginning to emerge beyond the basements and bars where they built their fan base, it sounded like an arrival, with songs that crossed over into a bigger pop sound. Listen to “Halloween” below and get tickets and information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Nickel Creek at Tower Theater, Matt Pond PA at Underground Arts, Nels Cline at Johnny Brenda’s

Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

Acoustic folk trio Nickel Creek are riding high on the success of their new album A Dotted Line, which arrived last month and coincided with their 25th anniversary as a band. Tonight they bring the excitement to the Tower Theater stage. Mostly folk but at times leaning toward bluegrass, their music, which rests on the band’s intricate musicianship and harmonies, has a raw quality that’s soulful at heart. Watch them perform “Rest Of My Life” live on Soundcheck below and get tickets here.

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Matt Pond PA returns to Philly for Emblems 10 Year Anniversary Tour

mattpond Matt Pond | photo via artist facebook page | https://www.facebook.com/mattpondpa

It’s hard to believe that an entire decade has gone by since indie alt/rock outfit and formerly-based-in-Philadelphian Matt Pond PA released the beloved LP Emblems; but alas, time flies.

In celebration of this occasion, Matt Pond will reattach the “PA” to his name and play Underground Arts Friday, May 2, joined by act The Lighthouse and the Whaler for the 10 year anniversary. Matt Pond has an armory of albums under his belt, but the acoustically driven, stripped down Emblems manages to strike a sentimental chord that has long withstood the test of time. With ten years of history attached to the record and a whole lot of talent, the show should be one for the books.

Released in 2004, Paste Magazine succinctly called Emblems, “a lush, haunting collection of superbly crafted chamber pop.” His folksie and mopey songs always seemed to touch the right late night chords, both emotionally and musically and to many fans, Emblems is his best work.

Tickets for the Underground Arts show go on sale this Friday, February 21st at Noon. You can purchase tickets here. Listen to the track “New Hampshire” from Emblems below. And in case you missed it, download Matt’s cover of Pink Floyd’s “Green Is The Colour” that he recorded with Andrew Kenny and Chris Hansen.

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Watch the new video for “Don’t Let Me Fall Behind” from Jukebox the Ghost (playing Union Transfer on 03/15)

Jukebox the Ghost | Photo by Charlotte Jacobson
Earlier this week Jukebox the Ghost announced a headlining tour that brings the band to Union Transfer in March, their biggest Philly date yet.  The piano-rock trio also debuted the video for “Don’t Let Me Fall Behind,” a track off of their latest record Safe Travels.  Check out the video below and get more information about the Union Transfer show with Matt Pond PA and The Spring Standards at the XPN Concert Calendar (powered by The Swollen Fox).

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Listen to “Love to Get Used,” a new single from Matt Pond (new album due in February)

Onetime Philadelphian, longtime New Yorker Matt Pond will release his latest LP, The Lives Inside the Lines In Your Hand, in February. It’s the ninth record for the prolific songwriter, the first for BMG Records, and the first released simply under his name – rather than Matt Pond PA, which is what he called his band when it was based in Philly from the late 90s into the mid-aughts. With this new chapter approaching for Pond, we’re pleased to report that his songwriting is polished as ever – on the new single “Love to Get Used,” it’s dressed up in impressive pop tones and a snappy beat, while Pond’s singing retains its signature warmth and earnestness. Lyrically, he’s bold and excited for the uncertainty of the future: “Let’s hang on to abandon / Let’s hope we lose control / To be out in the open baby / And let go of the ropes.” Listen to the song below; The Lives Inside the Lines In Your Hand is out February 5.