Preveiw: Matthew Ryan and the Northren Wire at the Hi-Fi

Alt-Country Singer Matthew Ryan Plays Indy’s the Hi-Fi on February 18th.

Believe it or not, most popular musicians are not the one-in-a-million, overnight successes the media loves to sell. In fact, for every megastar that hits it big , there are about a hundred hardworking musicians you’ve never heard of. Yet, it’s these same musicians whose sound often influences more popular acts. Take alt-country artist Matthew Ryan, for example. While he might not have Kenny Chesney’s popularity, he was essential in giving country a new direction. Specifically, his work was instrumental in the development of alt-county, which is sort of like alt-rock’s small-town cousin. With that in mind, Matthew Ryan is coming to play the Hi-Fi on the 18th. Check him out, if you’ve a mind to.

A Brief History

Matthew Ryan comes from Chester, Pennsylvania, a small economically-depressed burg 20 miles from Philly. The difficulty of life in the rustbelt no doubt left an impression on Ryan, particularly in the gritty sound of his music. Growing up, he listened to artists like U2, the Replacements, and Leonard Cohen. Certainly not artists known for having an affinity for the light and fluffy.

Ryan made his musical debut with 1997’s May Day, released on A&M Records. The album was a minor commercial success and many consider it an alt-country classic. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for his sophomore effort, the ambitious East Autumn Grin. The album failed to garner adequate returns and Ryan’s label dropped him.

Undaunted, Ryan crafted and released Concussion on the independent Nashville label Waxysilver. The album gave his career the boost it needed, and Ryan records and releases new music to this day.

His Sound
The genre Matthew Ryan is most known for, alt-country, is what happens when country music absorbs non-mainstream sounds the same way rock did. Accordingly, Matthew sounds like what would happen if Collective Soul decided to cover Gram Parsons.
Basically, Ryan’s instrumentation has the distinctive twang of country, but with a looser, jangly sound than is typical. Contrasting his uptempo melodies, Ryan’s voice has a Springsteen-like smokiness that suits his moody lyrics. The overall effect creates a melancholy feeling evocative of the Pennsylvania rustbelt Ryan knows so well.
So, as always. The venue is the Hi-Fi, door’s at 7:00.
See you there!           

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