Above Ground Fools by Matt North on Round Badge Records (February 21, 2017 Release Date)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan

Matt North has done more in his 47 years than most people have done in a lifetime. At age 15, he worked backstage at Farm Aid I in Champaign, IL picking up trash and states that day cemented his decision to pursue a career in music. After dropping out of college and forfeiting his music scholarship at the University of North Texas, North drove a Yellow Checker Cab while drumming in John Garvey’s University of Illinois Jazz Band from 1989-92.

Working at Mother Jones Magazine in San Francisco from 1994-97 as a fact-checker, he played drums in Bay Area garage bands and unexpectedly began working at The Punchline Comedy Club opening for Mitch Hedberg, Jimmy Fallon, Dave Chappelle, and was roommates with Patton Oswalt in Haight-Ashbury for two years.  And that was all before the age of 30!

He moved to LA in 1998, drummed in the punk band The Buxotics, wrote a screenplay, had a small role on the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm, worked as a valet for Century Plaza Hotel, a custodian at Beverly Hills City Hall, and focused on nothing but music and raising his son who was born on the autism spectrum. North moved he and his family to Nashville in 2010 because of a more reasonable cost of living and it is a more advantageous place to be a singer songwriter. If you want to read the unabridged story, go to Matt North’s website.

Along with being an outstanding drummer, Matt North can write, sing, and play guitar. Above Ground Fools is a wonderful autobiographical depiction of Matt North’s life, both present and past. A Good Day In Nashville (Track 1) is a roots rock number that is a descriptive account of a day in the life in Nashville as a singer songwriter and a family man. There is a lot of truth to this song and North adds a good dose of sarcasm and humor to make this song uber listenable.

Cronkite And Cosell (Track 4) is a nostalgic look at life back in the 70s where Walter Cronkite and Howard Cosell reigned supreme. North recalls some of the most pivotal events during this decade as told through Cronkite and Cosell. If they said it, you could believe it. There is also a very poignant line at the end where North remembers watching Cronkite and Cosell on TV with is dad and wanting to go back to that time. It is a very well written number. It doesn’t come across corny or sappy, either. 

Come Here Go Away (Track 10) is about the phony and superficial nature of the music bizz. It is a nice fast paced song that is quite catchy. North adds some great lines to really give us a look at the BS people sling around. Lines like how’s your family, hey old friend, you’re not from around here,…..etc. I think you get the idea. He has a great ability to add humor and satire to really drive his point home. Check out this album from a great singer songwriter. 

Watch the video for Cronkite And Cosell

Preorder Above Ground Fools here

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