M.Ward NZ Tour
13 November 2006
Mystery Girl Presents are excited to announce, from Portland, Oregon, for the first time in NZ, two solo appearances by
Scratch a high school poet and an aspiring indie-rocker will probably bleed. "The germ took hold for me when I started writing bad poetry when I was 15,” M.Ward says, citing the Beatles, Sonic Youth and fireHOSE as artists who stoked his pubescent fires. John King--the man responsible for the museum-like graphic look of Ward's albums and described by Ward as "somewhat of a mentor"--turned Ward on to the folk music of Elizabeth Cotten and John Fahey just as he was about to enrol in college. The curious mixture of influences has aged over time into a fine vintage all its own.
Matthew Ward (known to his fans as M. Ward) has already visited Australia as a solo performer three times accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, a harmonica, an upright piano and his own glorious honey-soaked voice. Internationally he has cultivated quite the cult following over the course of his many full-length releases: 2000's Duets for Guitar #2, 2001's End of Amnesia, 2003's Transfiguration of Vincent, 2004’s Transistor Radio and more recently this years Post War.
Relying heavily on a folk-of-yesteryear sound, updated with his indie-rock tendencies, and hearty helpings of undeniable melodies, M. Ward has positioned himself as one of the brightest, well-received singer-songwriters out there today. Whether it is his comfortable, familiar, relaxed singing style or his front porch finger picking tendencies, he has become both a critic and fan favourite.
Rising from the ashes of his San Luis Obispo-based combo Rodriguez (one self-titled album, produced by Grandaddy's Jason Lytle), Ward's solo career began in 2000 when Giant Sand's Howe Gelb took a shine to his music and released Ward's debut disc, Duet For Guitars #2, on Gelb's Ow Om label.
In 2004 M. Ward toured the US with Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and Jim James (My Morning Jacket) on the nationally acclaimed "Songwriters Tour," and spent time between recording sessions for Transistor Radio as a guitarist for the effervescent Bright Eyes live band. When M. Ward appeared on "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn" playing guitar with Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst insisted on shouting "M. Ward for President!" between versus.
"It may be too early to place M. Ward’s brilliance as a musician up there with names like Bob Dylan or Tom Waits, but this show – which seemed to go by in a flash while freezing time in the process - helped convince me that in a decade or two, we probably will." Being There Mag.
New Zealand Dates:
Auckland - Wednesday 10th January - The Dogs Bollix
Wellington - Thursday 11th January - San Francisco Bath house
Tickets on sale nationally from Monday 20 November, at Ticketmaster.co.nz and Real Groovy stores.
Mystery Girl Presents Representative: Simon Coffey, 0211745392, firstname.lastname@example.org
For Press enquiries:
EMI Records - Rae Foster 09 356 1594 or 021 980 944, Rae.Foster@emimusic.com
M. WARD *****
Live at the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto,
Ontario, Canada September 11, 2006
Reviewed by Adam D. Miller, Being There Magazine
Portland, Oregon singer-songwriter Matt Ward is revered by every musician and music fan that has bothered to pay any attention. Known professionally as M. Ward, he is not only an incredibly talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, but also – as he proved in Toronto – an incredible live performer to boot. Whether playing on his own with an acoustic guitar or backed by his tight band (consisting on this tour of Rachel Blumberg on drums, Jordan Hudson on drums/percussion/bass, Mike Coykendall on guitar/bass and Adam Selzer on bass/guitar), Ward shines very brightly on stage. The audience boomeranged between senses of awe and excitement as he performed songs from his new album Post-War and selections from his back catalogue.
Ward’s set began with “Poison Cup,” the opening track from Post-War. The acoustic guitar, synthesized strings and Ward’s distinctive voice (a mix of gravely and ethereal, thanks to whatever digital effects he uses) filled the Mod Club Theatre with some beautiful sounds. But it was the following track, Transistor Radio’s “Four Hours In Washington,” that got the audience really excited about experiencing M. Ward in a live setting. Simply put, the live arrangement of this song – while loyal to the album - blew away the studio version. The two drummers, Rachel Blumberg and Jordan Hudson, gave the song a spooky, thunderous quality. Other early highlights of Ward’s set included Post-War tracks “Right In The Head,” “Chinese Translation” and “Requiem,” as well as earlier material such as “Poor Boy, Minor Key” from 2003’s Transfiguration of Vincent, which found Ward switching from guitar to Wurlitzer organ.
Despite my unfamiliarity with some of Ward’s earlier material, I found the songs I had never heard before every bit as enjoyable as the ones I’ve listened to again and again. One of my favorite moments was “Cosmopolitan,” a new song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an early Johnny Cash album. This was followed by the fan favorite “Helicopter,” before “Big Boat” closed the evening’s main set.
For his encore, Ward returned to the stage on his own to offer a brief acoustic set. As great as his band proved to be early in the evening, the acoustic set captivated the audience. After the beautiful “Duet For Guitars #3,” Ward offered stunning renditions of “I’ll Be Yr Bird and “Paul’s Song” that pretty much silenced the audience. This was followed by a somewhat impromptu version of “Rollercoaster,” one of the more playful tracks from Post-War. A few musicians were brought back to the stage to join Ward for “O’Brien’s Nocture/O’Brien,” one of Ward’s strongest points as a lyricist.
It may be too early to place M. Ward’s brilliance as a musician up there with names like Bob Dylan or Tom Waits, but this show – which seemed to go by in a flash while freezing time in the process - helped convince me that in a decade or two, we probably will.
M WARD - Post-War
11 September 06 4AD Records Press Release
It's a completely assured and instantly appealing record, an album that pulls you into its richly-atmospheric whirlpool of melodies with almost hypnotic ease.
In making Post-War, Matt was able, at last, to collaborate in the studio with the musicians that he's been touring with for the past 18 months - something of a breakthrough for a man over-used to crafting his records in solitude; as a result it is, he says - with a hint of pride - his "first band record". The two dueling percussionists (Rachel Blumberg and Jordan Hudson) give the album a robust heartbeat, and the arrangements throughout are as fully-realised and organically-intertwined as a fine, mature garden. This was was also the first time that Matt had worked directly with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Cursive, The Faint); for much of Post-War he was on duty at the mixing desk. The album also features the gorgeous work of string player Amanda Lawrence
Special mention should be made of Matt's cover of Daniel Johnston's "To Go Home". Matt contributed a version of "Story Of An Artist" to The Late Great Daniel Johnston tribute album a few years back; the song has since become a live favorite. Here, Matt takes "To Go Home" and turns it into a rollicking and utterly infectious honky-tonk stomp.
Elsewhere, Post-War is deliciously poised between joy and regret; "Magic Trick" and "Requiem" both manage to turn farewells into rueful, rambunctious celebrations, while "Today’s Undertaking" is an aching lament which builds from nothing into a swelling, showstopping finale. The title track is a wistful, spacious and perfectly nuanced gaze into the past, while the opening "Poison Cup" combines devastatingly romantic strings and devastatingly romantic lyrics to devastatingly romantic effect.
"his most striking album yet ... with shades of sorrow and despair ultimately outshone by by the optimistic sparkle in his songwriting" The Guardian ****
"the album's full-blooded embrace of life rings out with loud and clear conviction" The Independent *****
"it's a rich, bright-sounding record, albeit etched with Ward's lyrical ruefulness and voice of crumbling, lugubrious regret - the songs come in various shades of arcane" Mojo ****
"Post-War addresses a world in flux, by turns nostalgic and bitter, Ward's sweet, carefree voice at odds with the urgency of the music" Uncut ****
“Post-War is not only Ward's best effort yet, it's one of the best records of the year” – All Music Guide
beautiful songs” – Pitchfork Media
“It all sounds familiar but strange, and beautiful enough to suck you in” – Rolling Ston
“Introducing some very welcome rock rhythms to his blend of folk and fingerpicked Delta blues, Ward’s disarmingly sweet fourth album squeezes big themes into modest but bewitching tunes” - Blender