Did you all do the responsible thing and listen to the Joy Formidable? If you didn’t, no worries, I will continue ramming them down your throats in the future. But now for a glance into my past.

In a sense, I grew up with MATTHEW. They formed in Chicago in 2000, were picked up by Rykodisc in 2001, and released their first album, Everybody Down, in 2002, during my Freshman year in college (just outside of Chicago). But more than that, the band includes former members of Seven Day Jesus and All Star United, two of my favorite bands from high school, both of which played at the second rock and roll show I ever attended. (Another member of ASU went to my little college and lived in the room next door to mine [or so I’ve been told] 10 years before I did.)

I bought that album soon after its release, thrilled to see Brian McSweeney’s (of SDJ) return to the music scene. I loved that record. The most immediately noticeable characteristic of MATTHEW’s music is McSweeney’s seemingly endless voice. It is the heart and soul of this album. His seamless blend of power and falsetto lend such a plaintive quality to every word he sings, you will want to follow him everywhere. Just listen to him sing at the end of “The Darkest Night”: “We’ll shine among the stars…there’ll be no dark/consumed within your fire/we’ll blaze with no restraints…in love…alive”. Seriously, guys. Go listen to it on their MySpace and tell me I’m wrong (hint: I am not). Everybody Down got me through my Freshman year, and many stressful times that followed.

In early 2003, word in the blogosphere was that MATTHEW were headed back into the studio. But, while touring in support of the first record, Rykodisc dropped the band. I thought they were gone forever. According to MySpace, though, the band have finally put out a self-released follow-up, Army of the Rabbit and Mouse. It is supposedly more organic and less slick than the first record. I can’t say for sure. None of the songs are posted on the site.

But I don’t need a preview. I trust this band implicitly. Now, I just need to figure out where to find a copy.

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