Emperor X – Previewed

Usher in the weekend early on Thursday, with a flat white and a slice of Emperor X…

Chad Matheny, better known as Emperor X, doesn’t so much set lyrics to music, not in any typical, usual manner at least. He crafts long meandering narratives, essentially stories and comments, in which he discusses everything from language and paying the rent (or not), to dealing with the modern world and what it is to be from North America. These treatises are transformed into songs once catchy hooks and soundscapes are draped over them. “[My work is] abstract, I write and see what comes out, and assemble it into pieces.” It’s about as lo-fi as it gets. This is a good thing.

There’s something of the (post Modern Lovers) Jonathan Richman about Matheny, though comparisons with the likes of Geoffrey Lewis and, in particular Mountain Goats, come pretty easy, too and are perhaps more apt. Matheny is a modern-day 21st Century troubadour, for whom the X – as in generation – sits very well; even if as he says, the name came about arbitrarily.

Allied to the determined lo-fi sensibility is a frank fragility, in keeping with the overall effect of his music one can’t help but warm to. And while there is a good helping of pathos – he recently confessed to there always being “something tragic in my lyrics” – the atmosphere in a live context is somehow more inclusive than it is alienating; Matheny expertly corralling his audience who hungrily gobble up any tidbits and chatter he throws their way.

As often as not he tours solo, with just a portable amp and megaphone for company, an approach which has earned Emperor X a reputation for unpredictably wild live shows. Given this Thursday’s venue is Bold Street Coffee, the scene seems set for an odd and joyous combination of the unruly and the intimate.

The evening’s support comes in the form of Sing For Your Supper, a folk-jazz (stay with us here) ensemble cropped from Stealing Sheep and members of the Wolstenholme / Kazimier collective. Described as ‘one of the city’s best kept secrets … fusing classic bebop with … dreamlike harmonies’, Sing For Your Supper should pave the way for Matheny nicely, warming the cockles of the audience as they go.

Emperor X / Sing For Your Supper 7pm @ Bold Street Coffee £4 OTD

Posted on 10/07/2012 by thedoublenegative