Matthew Good White Light Rock & Roll Review

[Universal; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: post-grunge, college rock
Others: Tragically Hip, Oasis, Noam Chomsky

With White Light, Matt Good has, for better or worse, rediscovered his rock roots. A transition record for the Vancouver native, he tried to make a crowd moving, live experience as the heavenly orchestrations of Avalanche have been replaced by a "getting back to the four-piece band basics" approach. This album was recorded in nine days and, aside from the odd overdub, most of the tracks were pulled straight off the studio floor putting it more on the side of radio-friendly, REM/Sloan alternative rock instead of his former realm of emo-political symphonic rock. The lyrics are still reasonably political but less noticeable behind the arena-sized riffs. I found the former lush soundscapes complimented Good's moral voice and "dancing in the ashes" motifs better than the '90s Can-rock and alt. country production that makes up this album.

Then again, Avalanche was practically perfect and stands up as one of the most underrated albums in Canadian history, despite the average sales figures. So a change in direction was practically inevitable and White Light does have its upsides. I found the acoustic intros and slide guitar breakdowns to be the most moving, notably on "Blue Skies Over Bad Lands" and the mournful "It's Been A While Since I Was Your Man." It's more accessible with a greater chance of crossing over into other markets and hopefully getting this man the recognition he deserves. In light of the stagnation of current radio-rock formulas, this Rock And Roll Revival is accomplished yet modest in its ambition.

Furthermore, pandering to the mainstream with such a commercial sounding title is a great way to spread your messages further to those blindered people running into Virgin to get the new Nickelback. They'll see Matt up there next to it on the top rack and, remembering their love of Rock and/or Roll, they might take a chance. These consumers will not be disappointed either and, better yet, they may learn something. Like it says on the disc, "Insert In Player / Feel The Glow Of Commerce."

1. Put Out Your Light
2. Poor Man's Grey
3. We're So Heavy
4. Empty Road
5. Alert Status Red
6. Little Terror
7. In Love With A Bad Idea
8. North American For Life
9. Blue Skies Over Bad Lands
10. It's Been A While Since I've Been Your Man
11. Buffalo Seven
12. Ex-Pats Of The Blue Mountain Symphony Orchestra

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