Transistor Radio

( 1 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
West Coast troubadour Matt Ward has developed a rapt following by playing music that requires listeners to crane their necks, prick up their ears, and use their minds to tune out outside stimuli that could easily overwhelm its delicacy. Transistor Radio, more than any of his previous releases, makes it crystal clear that the effort is worthwhile. The disc is, more or less, an homage to the possibilities of totally free-form radio, which allows Ward to follow his muse and interpret both the Beach Boys -- on a lovingly layered, all-instrumental version of "You Still Believe in Me" -- and Bach, on a haunting, wispy rendition of "The Well-Tempered Clavier." The same ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
West Coast troubadour Matt Ward has developed a rapt following by playing music that requires listeners to crane their necks, prick up their ears, and use their minds to tune out outside stimuli that could easily overwhelm its delicacy. Transistor Radio, more than any of his previous releases, makes it crystal clear that the effort is worthwhile. The disc is, more or less, an homage to the possibilities of totally free-form radio, which allows Ward to follow his muse and interpret both the Beach Boys -- on a lovingly layered, all-instrumental version of "You Still Believe in Me" -- and Bach, on a haunting, wispy rendition of "The Well-Tempered Clavier." The same restlessness imbues the originals that Ward offers up here, which range from the high-lonesome Appalachiana of "One Life Away" -- which gains momentum when My Morning Jacket's Jim James chimes in on harmony vocals -- to the soft-focus psychedelia of "Sweethearts on Parade." Like the device from which it borrows its name, Transistor Radio gives off its share of static, but those moments are far outnumbered by passages of crystal clarity that create the excitement of new discovery.
All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Listening to M. Ward's breezy ode to radio's forgotten heydays is a lot like taking in a huge breath of dust-bowl wind -- however, its charms are rooted in the hazy lemonade-sipping of summer rather than the great depression-obsession of the post-O Brother, Where Art Thou? mainstream. Ward's voice is a slap-delayed pastiche of Ron Sexsmith's easygoing croon and Andrew Bird's closed-mouth drawl, and like his front-porch fingerpicking, it's as effortless as it is effective. Transistor Radio begins with a lovely instrumental version of the Pet Sounds classic "You Still Believe in Me," then drops the needle on "One Life Away," a lo-fi shout-out to the radio towers of old that centers around the sly and condemning lines "To all the people in the ground/Listening to the sound of the living people walking up and down the graves/Well one of them is mine/I'm visiting my fräulein/She's only one breath away." Many have used the "fake old 78" approach before, but in Ward's hands it sounds truly genuine, and his falsetto harmonizing is as spooky as the song is sweet. While the rest of Radio plays out like a sequel to 2003's excellent Transfiguration of Vincent, with standout cuts like "Sweethearts On Parade," "Hi-Fi," and "Paul's Song" echoing that record's marvelous title track "Vincent O'Brien", there's a subtle optimism at work here that was only hinted at on previous recordings, and by the time he wraps the whole thing up with a gorgeous rendition of J.S. Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier," it's become apparent which fork in the road this eccentric troubadour has chosen, and it's generously dotted with pregnant storm clouds.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/22/2005
  • Label: Merge Records
  • UPC: 036172956029
  • Catalog Number: 29560
  • Sales rank: 119,694

Album Credits

Performance Credits
M. Ward Primary Artist
Vic Chesnutt Vocals
John Parish Drums
Howe Gelb Piano
Old Joe Clarks Bass, Percussion
Paul Brainard Pedal Steel Guitar
Jim James Guitar, Vocals
Rachel Blumberg Drums
Jenny Lewis Vocals
Jordan Hudson Drums
Technical Credits
Larry Crane Engineer
Old Joe Clarks Whistle
Adam Selzer Engineer
John Stanley King Artwork
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2011

    I am addicted to this album.

    I love this record. I enjoy all types of music, but this cd is honest-not overproduced, not full-of-itself. M. Ward's voice reminds me of Johnny Mathis on some songs--not a comparison one would expect. If you liked the Monsters of Folk record, you will enjoy Transistor Radio. On the other hand, if you like repetition, use of the word "baby",and predictable lyrics this record is not for you.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews