Matches F.C.

Matches F.C.

Fire Records n.y.c., 2003

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow


To discount up-and-coming bands that bang and clank their way to the primitive sounds of today's stripped-down rock movement as nothing more than low-level opportunists could seem rather cliché given the track record of rock n' roll over the past 15 years. Grunge was able to knock out the hair-metal era of hard rock in the late 80s after that scene spawned a slew of uninspiring copycat bands. Recently, grunge began suffering the same fate.

With a lack of creativity being to blame in these cases coupled with fact that indie-rock already is, well….. I did just allude to it as being fundamental at times; one can only wonder how long it will be before this genre begins tracking towards the same destiny.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So, when I listen to the self-titled EP from New York City's Matches F.C., I immediately warm up to the fact that this trio understands these sentiments as they attempt to create their own hybrid sound of pure rock n' roll.

First of all, the rhythm section -- consisting of drummer Adam Van Hyfte and bassist Dan Hewins -- set the table for guitarist and vocalist Mark Gutkowski to stamp his uniquely silky voice into a hip, do-woppy arrangement for the four tracks that comprise this EP. I think of T. Rex when I hear the drum/bass/guitar procession and I think of Weezer when I hear the vocals. It's an interesting template to say the least.

Gutkowski's vocals first struck me as being out of place the first time I heard them. Fortunately, they quickly grew on me as well-suited for what Matches F.C. are aiming to accomplish, much as say the distinctive voice of Rick Sims identifies himself with his Didjits band of yesterday and Gaza Strippers band of today. Matches F.C., in their own words, are "reacting against the accepted norm in underground music" while choosing "to push the boundaries of indie-rock."

I can buy that.

The first single on the Matches F.C. release, "Hot Sugar," embodies a swanky and equally calculated approach to songwriting far from the self-redeeming nature of many of the "dirty" rock bands on the indie-scene. The vocal tandem of Gutkowski's singing and Hewins' backing vocals smoothly balance one another in ways that might make you think that the two have been jamming together for years.

"She Makes Me" builds on the "Hot Sugar" formula with some punchy guitar work that cascades into what can easily be envisioned as a bouncy little sing-a-long number in a live setting. Heck, I'm whistling it as I type this. "Bad Decisions" and "Come on Over" don't deviate from plan and round out what prove to be a sampler of songs that will easily allow Matches F.C. to carve out their own memorable sound.

With this release, Matches F.C. inspire coolness plain and simple. And in rock n' roll that's a quality that will never be admonished.

(For more information on the band, please visit their Web site at

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Fire Records n.y.c., and is used for informational purposes only.