June 17, at The Rock
Shop and opening for Kathryn Calder, the Brooklyn
band put the “s” back into “soul”…
By David Chiu
In today’s indie music, Mattison is quite different from
other bands. Whereas some of those groups try their best to make vintage rock, punk
and electronic music, this Brooklyn band takes
a page from ‘70s and ‘80s R&B and pop – think of Laura Nyro, Stacey
Lattisaw and Teena Marie – with some jazzy instrumentation, soulful singing,
and yearning romantic lyrics. Simply put, loud rock guitars and narcissism
doesn’t seem to fit Mattison’s musical vocabulary and sensibilities.
Mattison’s music perfectly suited the intimate space of Brooklyn’s The Rock Shop, where the band performed as one
of the opening acts for New Pornographers’ member Kathryn Calder’s solo show.
Playing to a small but appreciative crowd, Mattison – consisting of
keyboardist-singer Kate Mattison, bassist Jay Steinhauer, drummer-singer Angel
Ortiz and percussionist Daniel Corrigan – made the most of its nine-song set
with some solid musicianship and soulful emotion.
“Gemini,” a tune featuring Kate Mattison’s Rhodes playing
and Angel Ortiz’s jazzy drumming, opened the show and set the groove-filled,
chilled-out tone for the evening; that song was followed by the lovely “Watch Out,” Some of the music’s
subdued aspects were complemented by more upbeat fare as in “Go Slow,” which
ended with a somewhat-rocking jam amongst the players; as well as “Baby So Did
I.” Another song, “Fireman,” started off with a lean funk intro with some
wah-wah sounds coming from Steinhauer’s bass. By the time the show ended with
“Terrorize My Heart,” the band’s sound was so infectious that it got some
people in the front grooving to the music.
The musicianship by the band was first-rate, but
it also had an off-handed casual cool that made the performances feel somewhat
spontaneous and improvisational. Certainly Mattison’s Rhodes
work highlighted the group’s distinctive and identifiable sound, but that was
one part of it. Ortiz’s playing combined the discipline of both a jazz and rock
drummer. Jay Steinahuer’s bass work was really impressive, especially during
those moments when he made his instrument sound like a wah-wah-sounding guitar.
And Daniel Corrigan’s percussion rounded off the group’s lush pop sound.
Prior to the show, Mattison’s previous releases were a
five-song EP called Mary from 2009,
and a 45 single, “X-Mas”/”Watch Out”; according to Kate Mattison, the group is
working on a new full-length record slated to come out in the fall. If
Mattison’s wonderful set from the Rock Shop provided any signs of what’s on the
horizon, the upcoming album and band itself are things to definitely worth
taking notice of.
Set List (courtesy of
Baby So Did I
Ooh I Wanna Love U
Terrorize My Heart