Matt Mays & El Torpedo
You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but the new Matt Mays album---with its glossy, hot-pink and machine-like metal heart artwork---perfectly suits the shift this album displays over its predecessors. Where previous albums reflected Mays' strong rural-roots influences, only one song on Terminal Romance (the Tom Petty-ish "Stand And Deliver"), comes close to this territory. The other tracks pretty much go for straight up arena rock, with slight variances in style. "Rock Ranger Record," clocking in at 1:58, is a nod to The Ramones, complete with hand-claps and "oooo-whoa-whoa" chorus. "Building A Boat" and "Tall Trees" scream to be huge radio hits, if not at least powerhouse live staples, perfectly suited for frat boy fist pumping. But if you are looking for some of the versatility shown on his "solo" When the Angels Make Contact from 2006, it will be found in "Digital Eyes" and the title track---the latter starting slow with piano accompaniment only to build over the next eight minutes to a resounding chorus. It is the most far-reaching composition here. Mays has proven time and time again that he is a great songwriter and solid performer, and by stripping the alt-country tag away from this record, he just might have positioned the band for the long overdue, full-on attention it deserves.