Matchbox Twenty is one of the first bands of my generation that I remember discovering. Most music I was into at age Eleven was hand-me-downs from my parents, and I still didn’t really listen to the radio. I had never heard of MB20 until the summer of 1997, which I spent at a theater program at my town’s High School. The program allowed High School students to direct younger kids in a several different productions over summer break, and I looked forward to it every year. The High Schoolers were all so cool, and everyone wanted to hang out with them. I remember sitting by myself one day at lunch when one of them came up to me and started up a conversation. He was one of the directors I looked up to, so this was huge for me. We mostly made small talk about the different shows being worked on, but as would prove all to common later in my life, the conversation soon shifted to music. I didn’t really know many of the bands he mentioned, and I thought he would be impressed by my knowledge of The Beatles and other Classic Rock. He told me that if I liked rock, that I needed to hear this new band called Matchbox Twenty. His words sold the album brilliantly, and that I would especially love a track called ‘Long Day’.
I hounded my parents until they finally brought me to Tower Records (look it up kids) so i could purchase the album, and I instantly fell in love. I played Yourself Or Someone Like You all day, every day, and ‘Long Day’ was instantly my favorite song. I memorized it front to back. When school started in the fall, I used to carry it around with me in my backpack in spite of the fact that I didn’t have any kind of portable CD player. I just wanted that record on me at all times.
Rob Thomas quickly became a hero of mine, solidified by each subsequent release. I loved him because he was not only responsible for the songs I held so close to me, but his versatility as a songwriter was something I had immense respect for. MB20’s second album, Mad Season, was the first record I purchased in the new millennium, and it remains one of my favorite albums to this day. All of the different genres utilized on that record blew me away, and that quality is something I still look for and enjoy when listening to new music. Check out the very album faithful spectacular live version of ‘You Won’t Be Mine’ below.
The band’s third record, 2002’s More Than You Think You Are, was a move back towards the straight up pop/rock of their debut, and I loved every track. The band was back with a force, as evident on the live version of ‘Bright Lights’ below.
In my opinion at the time, this was an unstoppable band, but history would prove otherwise. MTYTYA would be the bands last full album for ten years. They released a greatest hits compilation, Exile On Mainstream, in 2007, and Rob Thomas released two solo records in the interim, but to me nothing replaced the feeling I got when holding a new Matchbox Twenty Record in my hands.
To say my anticipation for their new record, North, was high would be an understatement. I was trying to be very adult and patient about it, but this was something that I had been waiting for since I was sixteen. After a few listens now, I can honestly say that it did not dissapoint. North is a very poppy record, filled with great hooks and all the ballads and rock longtime fans are used to. The band experiments with a electronic rhythms at a few points, but they never stray to far from the classic Matchbox Twenty sound. The band’s song writing is on par, as evident with the stylistically different lead singles ‘She’s So Mean’ and ‘Overjoyed’, which are embedded below.
You can stream ‘North’ for free right now at iTunes, and it comes out this New Music Tuesday 9.4.12. There’s so much to love about this record, and I hope you give it a try!