I downloaded a new album from Amazon.com MP3 last week and I am IN LOVE. It was Matt Nathanson's "Beneath these Fireworks". I know, he doesn't really have a rock star name.
But the man can write a song. And in fact, his songs are the kind that already sound familiar to me even though I've never heard them before. Somewhere between Toad the Wet Sprocket and Matchbox 20, perfect little bouncy pop songs with tortured-relationship lyrics. I love it.
The other cool thing is his voice - it's a clear, soothing one, with the same qualities I love about Jackson Browne's. He kind of has the male equivalent of Vienna Teng's singing voice - just clear and pretty, and enunciates words so you actually understand them. (Pay attention growly metal singers, Adam Duritz, and Tori Amos!)
I found him through Pandora, a site whose praises I can't stop singing. Using their awesome technology, and amazingly huge library of songs, you create your own "radio stations" by adding songs and artists you like. Their system has a database full of metadata about each of the songs, so it uses that to recommend other songs you might like based on what you've picked. And if it chooses poorly, you give it feedback and it won't play that song anymore. And their picks are scarily accurate - I've discovered a lot of artists, especially metal ones, that I wouldn't hear otherwise.
My two favorite stations on there, depending on my mood, are a metal station that plays new (post 1998) metal, and one that plays shiny happy pop songs. It was on the latter that I discovered Matt Nathanson.
Here's a video from his newest album. I love this song too:
It's always weird for me to see the artist after I've heard their music - they never look like I expect :)
The other thing I like about this guy is his blog - somehow it seems totally accessible, like he's your buddy who just happens to be pursuing a career as a professional musician. I love that in one post he talks about being nervous before a show, and trying to win over the crowd, and he asks himself "What would Bono do?" In another he talks about how Paul Simon's "Graceland" is the perfect album and how it made him realize how much harder he had to work on his own music to get to that place.
In this day of manufactured pop stars and celebrity hysteria, it's nice to find an artist who just seems like a normal person. Woot. I can't wait till he comes to Seattle next, though it appears I just missed him a few months ago :(