Mark Matos & Os Beaches- Words of the Knife

Mark Matos & Os Beaches- Words of the Knife

The guy on the cover looks just like Carlos Boozer from the Utah Jazz. And Mark Matos & Os Beaches sounds just like Wilco! I’m exaggerating a little bit, but Matos and his mates sound an awful lot like Summerteeth-era Wilco, even right down to vocals and delivery (akin to Tweedy’s melancholy croon). The only difference is Matos adds in a couple of Spanish tracks. The best example of musical infringement is “High Priest of the Mission.” Listen to that song and tell me that doesn’t sound like Wilco to a tee. If you played it around your musically-aware friends, they’d probably ask if Wilco had a new song out, I guarantee that.

This is the issue, though, and it’s that the songs are good. I can’t really point to anything Matos & Os Beaches do inferior to Wilco. Lyrics? Similar. Musically? Both bands are talented at the alt-country instrumentation. Tweedy isn’t any catchier of a frontman than Matos, partly because they both sing in similar fashion. Downtrodden melodies behind alt-country music isn’t going to vary that much, so it doesn’t sound that Tweedy has any better “songcraft” ability. And if you remember, Summerteeth was really, really good and a critical darling. It seems a little troubling that the sound of that beloved album can be replicated so easily. I can’t just throw the “just listen to Wilco” tag instead because Wilco doesn’t sound any better! Sure, you could cast Matos off as a Wilco rip-off and a wannabe, but it seems different than trying to be somebody else and then actually doing it. My best rational explanation is that “Summer Teeth,” How to Fight Loneliness,” and “My Darling” are all still better songs than anything on Words of the Knife.

So yes, at their best Matos is only an average Summerteeth song, and maybe that makes the balance of everything okay. If you’re a Wilco fan and you feel like Matos is cutting in on your boys, then pass them over because you won’t hear anything that sounds fresh anyway. If you like how Wilco sounds and don’t really care about the ethics of this whole thing, then check out Mark Matos & Os Beaches because you’ll find a lot of expertly done alt-country music lying within.