Secret Meeting score: 73
by Phil Scarisbrick
Atlanta native, Mattiel Brown (pronounced ‘maa-teel’), already has a thriving career as an ad designer and illustrator in Georgia. Ever the creative though, she turned her hand to music in her spare time, and teamed up with songwriting and production duo InCrowd (Randy Michael and Jonah Swilley). Together, they wrote and recorded Mattiel’s debut self-titled album, which was released this week in the UK through Heavenly Records.
InCrowd’s technique of recording everything live with no overdubs really seeps through as the whole thing possesses the giddy energy of bands like The Stooges or The Pretty Things. Mattiel’s voice adds a slick, soulful seductive wail. Tracks such as Whites Of Their Eyes, Count Your Blessings and Salty Words evoke Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western themes and seem perfectly built for syncing. Given Brown’s day job, it is hard to imagine that this was an accident.
Single, Bye Bye, sounds like The Hives at their most fun, whereas Baby Brother is pure American sixties pop (complete with ‘sha la las’ and a groovy bass line). The whole record feels like a smorgasbord of influences, but also totally cohesive. Although the live recordings give the songs energy, they are still tightly produced little nuggets of pop,rock and soul. In an industry that constantly puts value on its own idea of ‘authenticity’, Brown’s collaboration with a ‘songwriting and production team’ – while not rare – could detract from that. But it shouldn’t, because as debut albums go, this is a very good one.