Matthew Logan Vasquez plays an outlaw brand of psychedelic rock that seems to have vanished from the musical landscape sometime in 1971, mashing up outright sleazy gutter riffs with surprisingly expressive vocals. He released the EP Texas Murder Ballads earlier this year to only a few spins on the radio and barely any press reviews. Not that he cares. Serene nonchalance just bleeds right through with MLV. The man’s casual lack of concern (just peep his Insta feed) is more than evident. He once got a severe infection of some kind and, in honor of Bushwick Bill, snapped a pic with his ass hanging out of this hospital gown. A true pistol. He puts the “ass” in guitar assault as well, with raunchy minor chord blitzes and and the type of tossed off soloing that hasn’t conjured since the days of Exile. The lyrics are more focused with Neil, Kurt and Lou springing to mind, even though none of those three would have dared attempt some of these couplets, although Neil is allegedly still alive so one never knows.
As a former member of the California shoulda’-beens Delta Spirit and a current member of “Monsters Of Indie” Middle Brother, MLV released his first solo album in 2016 and followed it up with the EP in question: Matthew Logan Vasquez Does What He Wants. And that title is certainly lived up to. “Same” is all sorts of a rowdy rocker and features a delicious cameo from Kam Franklinone. Both are featured in the song’s video, one of the most hilarious music visuals of 2017.
“Siera Blanca”was the first and, from what i gather, only single released off the 5 song EP. The steady, racing guitar here just screams “metronomes and Aderall”. “You always had such tenderness / Even Saints Need their rest. / They got you fingered / So lay low” MLV is in full-fledged raconteur mode. His songs are traditional narratives, and this one focuses on someone trying to escape to Sierra Blanca for certain nefarious reasons: “They will never find you down at the barrio”, takes on crooked cops at the border check, and lets some heart worn swagger bleed through: “You always such tenderness / until they took your innocence”
On “Little Tiger” MLV’s smoked-out guitar lines come on like Hendrix on Mandrax. “A conversation with a lizard at the station / about the shattered state of the nation / She just left me on probation” Did late ’70s Bobby D. ever croak this line? No? Then I bet he wish he had.
MLV shifts seamlessly into ferocious and defiant mode on “Ladonna” “How many shots til the bottom of the bottle/ How many cards are missing from the deck?” The house he is singing about is haunted, of course, and he rolls out the guitar sounds like just another of the characters in the tale, weaving in character traits and complexities like a shut-in novelist obsessed with, and lost in, an ambitious work of fiction, possibly never to emerge.
Matthew Logan Vasquez is that rarest of all songwriter breeds, a playful story teller and dynamic, unabashedly humorous dude who still manages to wring base emotions from the shtick. This is not a self-serious troubadour in a stetson singing of opioid epidemics and trailer park romance. This is a guy with an ass shot on his Instagram story.
We can only wish more artists came forward with such confidence in their humorous insouciance.