John Matthias Stories from the Watercooler

On first listen, John Matthias’s Stories from the Watercooler is an easy one to write off: a guy, a guitar and the type of pop rockin’ singer-songwriter routine you’ve heard a million times. Upon closer examination though, you start to see that there’s a bit more to all this. On the musical front, the British songwriter pairs his deadpan, folk-singer voice with an impressive collection of electric/acoustic guitars, harmoniums, banjos, Dixieland brass and mono synths, all carefully textured by unlikely producers, the dance-leaning duo Coldcut. Lyrically, you couldn’t ask for a more colourful selection of subject matter, with songs delving into everything from telephone banking to Japanese internment camps to bullshit therapies to bombs boasting the face of Britney Spears. While it’s all be a bit subtle at first, in time the typical starts to sound not so typical, making Stories from the Watercooler an odd, not to mention ambitious, piece of pop. (Counter)