Matt Hammon Steps Out On His Own with His Silver Suitcase, Tonight at WOMH

[UPDATE: Okay, so ignore that poster over on the right; apparently Tody Castillo couldn’t make it down from Austin after all, so Cameron Dezen Hammon will be opening tonight at the WOMH, instead. Which is also very cool by me.]

If you’re a fan of Texas-bred indie/emo, odds are pretty good that you’ve heard Matt Hammon, even if you don’t realize it. That’s the way it was for me, at least; I thought my initial introduction to the guy’s music was via The Rebecca West, his folk-country-pop project with very talented wife Cameron Dezen Hammon, and heck, that was impressive enough.

As it turns out, though, I’d been listening to Hammon for a long while beforehand. See, Hammon was one of the founding members of iconic emo band Mineral — a band that, believe it or not, was one of the primary things that first inspired me to start a band — and although he wasn’t in it for long, he rejoined Mineral’s Chris Simpson in the also-awesome The Gloria Record, which pretty much drew the road ahead for a lot of emo musicians once the wave broke.

Oh, and he also played drums for Bob Freaking Mould, one of my all-time heroes, on his 1998 solo album The Last Dog and Pony Show, which I’ve listened to multiple times over the past decades without connecting the dots at all to Hammon’s earlier or later work. (Yes, I’m basically an idiot.) On top of all that, these days Hammon teaches Economics and Political Science at Bellaire HS, right down the damn road from where I live. For a big city, this place can be incredibly small sometimes, y’know?

So, after all of that, after all those years of sitting in the background at the drum kit or behind the soundboard (he was also a producer for a while, both here and in Nashville), now Hammon’s headed out on his own, with Silver Suitcase, released back in October. And that’s a very, very good thing.

Listening to the album, I get the Bob Mould connection almost immediately — there’s a finger pointing straight back to Sugar, Mould’s ’90s-era band, in terms of the overall sound, particularly with the intense-yet-not-overwhelming roar of the guitars, even on slower, more somber songs. The title track, especially, brings to mind “Explode and Make Up,” off 1994’s File Under: Easy Listening, and that’s no bad touchstone to have, at least to me.

There’s more, though: a bit of a Tom Petty-ish rootsiness over here, some Recovering the Satellites-period Counting Crows over there, and yeah, quite a bit of The Rebecca West. The latter makes sense, of course, since that band was Hammon, his wife, and his brother-in-law Alex Dezen (who Hammon’s also played with, by the by, in Dezen’s main band, The Damnwells). There’re also moments, like “Colorful Regret,” where I find myself thinking of Canadian indie-rockers Ketch Harbour Wolves; it’s the swooping, dramatic vibe that does it, I think.

Overall, Silver Suitcase is a somber, serious listen, but not a sad one — there’s an underlying feeling of triumph to all of it, even the quieter moments. Which feels appropriate, given the journey Hammon’s taken to get to this point. This is a triumph, no doubt, and one hell of an album, besides.

Now for the time-critical stuff: Hammon will be playing those very Silver Suitcase songs (and more besides, maybe?) tonight, Saturday, December 30th, up at White Oak Music Hall, and he’ll have a full band backing him up, which is very cool. As an added bonus, expat(?) Houston pop-rock guy Tody Castillo will be opening the show — it’s been a while since he’s played here in town, I think, so that makes me happy, too, as does the news that he’s got a new album coming out soon.

It’s gonna be a good one, y’all; get on out…

Post by . This entry was posted on Saturday, December 30th, 2017. Filed under Features, Posts.

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