Posts Tagged ‘Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn’

Favorite Albums of 2020

Here’s the year end list. I’m not gonna wax on about how this year was rough, we all know it was a shit year and even more so for artists. It was, however, a great year for recorded music, and I had a hard time not making this list about twice as long to show love for all the albums that lifted me this year. I’ve long been against the whole idea of numbered lists, so once again things are presented in quasi-alphabetical style (I always mess one or two up in creating this, but you get the point). I’ve included Bandcamp embeds where they exist, so if you have the means and find something new, please reach out and support the artists here. Looking forward to 2021 as another year that music makes getting through easier.

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Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn – “On Our Way”

The latest from Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn is an amber-hued country slide that sits along nicely with his recent run of solo records. Full of cool breezes and long afternoons, the album sat perfectly in the last days of fall, feeling every bit the kind of ennui coated vision that helps usher out the last vestiges of warmth. He adds on another nice touch with a second homespun video from the LP for “On Our Way.” The song aches in the chest perhaps more than some of the others and this faded memory video only makes the ache glow harder. Rain, Rain, Rain is out now on Cosmic Range.



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Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn

The last few years have seen Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn kick out an enviable catalog of works on his own Cosmic Range Records and 2020 shows no sign of flagging with the arrival of Rain, Rain, Rain. Dunn’s name might ring familiar with a few folks around here — he’s been a longtime MV&EE collaborator in addition to showing up on records from fellow Canadians U.S. Girls, James Matthew VII, and Jennifer Castle. Not to rest easy he also heads up RSTB faves Sacred Lamp, The Cosmic Range, and Stonegrass. While his sidework tends to toe heavily into the psychedelic, on his own works he’s cultivated a bar-beaten singer songwriter countenance that’s washed in last call whiskey and delivered with a heart-heavy sigh.

As with his impeccable run from the last few years, Dunn’s songwriting here is touched a slight echo of ‘70s Van Morrison and Open Road era of Donovan. He’s soaked his records in the honeyed AM air that infected folk rock with a taste of cosmic croon and country-tumbled tangents as ’72 tumbled off of the calendar. That feeling runs heavy as ever over Rain, Rain, Rain. “Cold Wind” sways with jukebox twang and a lover’s embrace that’s only deepened on “Chance.” “Last Goodbye” brings a touch of Southern Soul in the background vocals, feeling like the tape might have run through Muscle Shoals before making its way back across the border to mellow in the Northern sun. As he dips into the distance on closer “Listen To The Rain” he lets the fog overtake the album, fading guitar cries into the soft patter rising on the wind.

There’s been a long kinship with his collaborator James Matthew VII. The artists have often graced each other’s records and Matthew shows up here once more to add in a good dose of buttered slide and tremolo ache. While JMVII lifts into the shimmer of ozone in his own works, here the pair ground Dunn’s record in the feeling of long-paced pavement, late-night lamentations, and last looks over a town before its left behind for good. The mark of a true country-folk gem is how much ache it can hang on a heart, and in that regard, this one’s as gold as they come. With each new solo work Dunn’s building a reputation as a Northern troubadour that shouldn’t be missed.




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Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn – “Last Goodbye”

Canadian songwriter Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn continues his excellent run of solo LPs for his own Cosmic Range Records. Beginning with the double 2018 run of Lightbourn and Some Horses Run and continuing through last years’ Upper Canada Blues Dunn has tapped into a weathered, country-flecked sound that’s shouldering a heavy load of emotional weight with the feeling that there’s plenty of road left to travel. He brings on fellow psych-country crooner James Matthew VII to add some stringwork to the LP, injecting his own mellowed gold to the sounds. Dunn’s perfected the art of the bittersweet swoon and while there are two solid pre-release singles up today, its “Last Goodbye” that captures the bright dawn sunlight best. The song gallops along with a breeze in its bones — a traveling song that leaves it all behind, but not without a pang that pulls at the soul. Rain, Rain, Rain is out October 26th and is up today for pre-order.



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Stonegrass

I let loose a track from this monster earlier in the month, but now the full album is upon us and it’s even more expansive than the fuzz chomper, “Tea” lets on. Brainstormed out of sessions between Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) and Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) following the end of their previous endeavor, The Spiritual Sky Blues Band— the two find a cosmic nirvana that mixes hazed strums with wind-bitten fuzz. The album employs haunted psych textures beset with flute fumigations and deep-set zones that ripple through a particularly nocturnal temperament. The pair link up with Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv) on production, making for a potent triumvirate of psychedelic resonance. There’s a deeply grooved library music mantra about the album, rolling together elements of The Feed-Back and Alessandroni while slicing through prog puddles filled with the likes of Xhol Caravan, Kraan, and Paternoster.

Anderson’s involvement injects a slight tinge of funk to the project, as can be heard in the predawn dabbling of “The Highway (To All Known Places),” but the default setting is one of scorched mind-flay with the amps set at fuzz-rumble and the ambience creeping in with a full dose of menace. Dunn and Anderson are certainly no newcomers to the psychedelic sense, but what’s most affecting here is their want to delve deep into their archives of personal pedigree to emulate the far-gone burnt ends of instrumental indulgence. There’s something to love here for the heads who just want to hole up in groove and fuzz, something for those who love the instrumental crust belt, and something for fans of Dunn and Anderson in general. Stonegrass is every bit the dropout dose that the signifiers suggest and more. I suggest strapping in for a turbulent ride.




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Stonegrass – “Tea”

Wouldn’t be a week around here without a solid psych album featuring a Darryl Norsen cover, and this week we sneak in two, just under the wire (see also: Silver Scrolls). This one comes in from longtime RSTB fave Matthew Doc Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) who expands upon a couple of his previous psych-saturated outfits with a debut LP under the name Stonegrass. Linking up with Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) & Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv,) Dunn expands on the principles that he and Anderson had begun in their defunct project that flew under the flag of The Spiritual Sky Blues Band. Combining the exploratory sense of The Cosmic Range and a bit of Anderson’s psych-funk explorations with the Badge, the pair (along with Price on production) have crafted an LP that’s lifted out of the resin-soaked bins of the ‘70s psych sojourn – evoking sessions that stretch three days and roll out with barely a legible anecdote from the players but with riffs that could cut glass on contact. The first cut, “Tea,” is an absolute monster — barreling out of the speakers with grit and gas fumes, destined to tear your woofers to shreds. The whole album is a crusher, but you’ll have to wait until later in the month to experience its full glory.





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Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn

Canadian psych keystone Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn has a seemingly infinite reserve of boundless energy, already lending his talents to two solid releases for 2019 (The Cosmic Range, Sacred Lamp). Add in touring duties with U.S. Girls and this would stretch most songwriters thin, but this month he’s following up on his two(!) excellent solo albums from last year with another bout of faded singer-songwriter gems. Lightbourne made the biggest impression in the press, but it was swiftly followed by the equally sun-streaked Some Horses Run, which tumbled out just a few months later, and might rightfully get chalked up as one of 2018’s most overlooked record. Continuing to mine his country-flecked, rambling pop predilections on Upper Canada Blues Dunn douses the speakers in a honeyed drawl and low simmering arrangements that pull back from his more psychedelic output.

Dunn’s solo records tend to run the early ‘70s ambitions of Van Morrison through a denim wash that dries deep on the line in the Laurel Canyon sun. Dunn’s versatility as a sideman (tightening the turns for U.S. Girls, lending airy atmosphere to MV & EE) come crashing through on Upper Canada Blues. The arrangements are lush to the point of quenching an invisible itch. As the slides saunter in on “Ribbons” there’s a smell of wet grass, hot coals, and rain on the air. Dunn has an ability to instantly feel familiar, like an artist you’d grown up with – crackling from the AM speakers on an uncle’s truck, humming on the hi-fi of an older sibling, somehow always around and waiting to be found when your ears aged to the proper temper.

That familiarity never rubs off as stagnant, though. The easy entry to Dunn’s work is only further rewarded by its richness. The leather lounge of “Save Our Grace,” the hip-swing wink of “The Beast,” the exhale ease of “Running Right Out” – Dunn’s crafted another afternoon sipper of an album. This is the kind of record that slips off a hard day every time and its likely you’ll be thankful for Dunn’s gravitas. The last couple seemed to slip away from folks, I’d warn not to let this one fly under cover as well. Its too good to miss.



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The Cosmic Range

Its such a packed year, that as we enter the mid-point its time to go back and sweep out some of the great releases that got lost in the cavalcade. That includes the sorely under-appreciated sophomore LP from Canada’s Cosmic Range. The band, much like their close contemporaries in Badge Epoque Ensemble, is comprised largely of players who found themselves in and around the backing band from last year’s U.S. Girls release. Featuring the likes of Matthew ‘Doc” Dunn and Maximillian (Slim Twig) Turnbull, the record scratches a familiar itch that claws at the crux of jazz, psych, and funk. The band is dipped and doused in the hash den Ashram of ‘70s Miles Davis on his run between the Brew and the Corner. They’re beset with the same shakes that lit up the nerves on Nation Time and they’re weeding out the same calm collective gardens that Alice Coltrane tended.

There’s more than a little hazed quasar space rock floating in the froth as well and the band pulls the throttle way back for the disquieting loneliness of “Eyes for Rivers” before they spark back up for the double barrel burn of “The Observer.” Rhythm is a constant throughout the album, whether tapping out a tender cosmic sendoff or bringing the punishing pound of a polyrhythmic puzzle. The band’s clearly comprised of seasoned vets bouncing their highest beta wave wobble among the collective consciousness. The record is a heady hit, blown through with psychedelic sax n’ wah fried guitar grooves that’ll sate the most ardent heads out there. If you’ve heard the tangential works that the players have cropped up on, then it should come as little surprise that the alchemy is strong among this bunch. Highly recommended that you lock in and let this one wash over you.




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Sacred Lamp

Familiarity with Canada’s psychedelic noise conduit Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn may have come to you in quite a few ways over the last year or so. Despite having been the eye of the storm when it comes to Canada’s more experimental core, Dunn also proved that he’s got a tender tear in him as well with his solo album, Lightbourn, last year. The album saw Dunn slinking towards more traditional songforms, finding solace in Northern Lights country and flaying open his heart. While he did occasionally break out the burn on a few of this songs, the album a fairly different animal from the CD-r stock pile of an artist who’s spent time in the trenches with MV & EE, Woods and the more outre end of the psych-folk spectrum. Even more unlikely, Dunn was integral to coalescing the band that would back up Meg Remy on U.S. Girls’ In A Poem Unlimited last year, straying even further from his comfortable soil with a blend of ‘70s pop twists and jazz-scratched disco that led to one of her most invigorating albums.

He’s proved a versatile artists who can’t be underestimated, or pinned down. So naturally, his collaboration with longtime cohort Ayal Senior as Sacred Lamp is akin to none of these things. If these are your entry points to Dunn, then the duo’s eponymous LP is something more ephemeral. Built on an interplay of guitars that run between the blues ballasted acoustic and twilight divining electric runs that feel haunted by the memories of something just beyond the folds of the horizon. The record is forever chasing the feeling of peace. The LP luxuriates in the guitar, touching on moments that recall Bishop and Chasney, Basho and the collaborative combos of Steve Gunn.

Its a rose-hued gem of a record that should appeal to any fans of those respective camps or the long tendrils that tie them to several schools of fingerpicked and potent psych-folk. This one feels like it has the capacity to slip through the the most slender of cracks. I’d advise grabbing hold before it does.



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