Skye Matlock brings bass-laden grungy garage rock to the masses on debut LP

Words by Jason Lee
Photo by Alec Ilstrup

Skye Matlock‘s “Reminisce” starts off much like a real life reminiscence–a dreamy reverie of lightly tapped ride and rimshot (shades of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” with Shelly Manne on drums!) full of rococo rhythmic touches, soon wedded to a creepy-crawly baseline sounding like the spider sidling up to Little Miss Muffet munching on her curds and whey and it’s not a long way from Skye’s own tale of a mysterious figure who from “behind the curtain takes me to a trap door” until the narrator discovers said mysterious figure “alone in the middle of a dance floor”a nd that’s when the reminiscence turns from a dreamy reverie to a searing burst of enlightenment…

…as Skye and drummer/producer Jonathan Awad suddenly crank the volume up from 1 to 11 with Skye’s bass fed through enough crunchy distortion and who knows what other pedal-based sorcery that you’d assume an army of guitar-thrashing deadites had suddenly entered the room but almost as suddenly the pair retreat to Peggy Lee territory again and a repeated invocation of “my heart of gold and fist of lead,” a line that seemingly embodies the central fulcrum of the LP on the whole–a whirlygig ride of soul baring testimonials and searing dedications of strength and purpose as mirrored in the sonic realm, see-sawing between raw-boned extremes (you can literally hear Sky’s fingers scraping the bass’s strings at times) to a degree perhaps not heard since the heyday of 90s/early aughts loudQUIETloud grunge-based dynamics…

Photo by Tommy Krause

…and really there’s something so perfectly elemental and alchemical about this being a two-piece exploring various dialectical relationships, a conversation between two instruments and all the sounds they can collectively muster using a pair of sticks and a pick, metal alloys and animal skins, vocal chords and coiled wires, fed through all sorts of electronic frequency modulations…

…and as it turns out this is all you need to create a compelling debut LP full of blooz-rockin’ minimalist anthems spread across 25 minutes including tracks like “Dominque” whose empowered title figure “wants to watch you crawl” and to be sure “don’t think twice about calling her baby / cuz every woman is more than a lady” before landing finally on the eighth and final track “U There?” which strips things down even further with a tape-recorded, untreated bass and equally naked vocals that sound literally like “a wick beginning to flicker”…

…and while we don’t have space to go into an entire track-by-track trip we suggest you simply listen to the album and take it all in on your own terms, but in case you’re craving some backstory on Skye Matlock here’s a bit of additional info cribbed from elsewhere:

After leaving her tight-knit circle of musicians in Dallas, Texas, 18 year old Skye Matlock moved to NYC with her Fender Rascal bass and a desire to keep gigging. Brooklyn’s Indie-Alt group Carrier was the beginning to Skye Matlock finding herself as an artist in a new city. But after a few years, recommended-for-you rabbit hole, morphing from Indie pop to Garage Rock, would be the driving force that led her to writing melodic, distorted basslines to pair with a collection of her own lyrics. As songs began to pile up, she decided to part ways with Carrier after the release of their first album.

Skye mentioned her solo project over a few beers with locals, unknowingly accepting a gig that would open the door to new… everything.“There’s an open slot I’m trying to fill next week, you down to play?” Reluctant to perform as a true solo act, she sifted through Facebook to find a drummer who would back her. After two rehearsals, a drum and bass duo would become the make up of Skye Matlock. That St. Patty’s gig somehow felt like fate after Jonathan Awad (SAVOIA) offered to not only produce her music, but to step in as her drummer. As Skye puts it, “I don’t necessarily have anything to hide, just lots of little thoughts I can’t imagine anyone asking me about. Here I am, belting them to an audience instead.”


And finally, here’s a Deli-exclusive statement from Skye on the making of the album!

As Jon and I worked on these songs overtime, I could feel myself warp as a musician. Tiny little knicks on my bass strings that drove me crazy became the ONLY sound I wanted to explore more. I’ve told a few people that this album is like a series of journal entries, because you can hear that it’s ME telling you what’s going on, almost scribbling it. We played live more than we thought we would before the recording process, which has had an insane impact on the evolution of the original basslines and lyrics I brought to Jon. Upset, girly lines in my lyrics became more raw and understood when paired with our stripped down approach, with bass and drums dominating most tracks. We have a show coming up at Rockwood 12/17, but would love to keep playing with more/new bands in New York.

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