Wildebeest, AKA Matthew Winn If you’re looking for pretty or easy, don't even bother. If you want to see and hear a music legend develop, you’re in for a ride. Matthew Winn is reserved, and his musical counterpart is the beast within. In his own words, "this is not folk punk, this is serious."
Wildebeest is an exceptional multi-instrumentalist playing guitar, keyboards, accordion, and harmonica. His guitar playing and picking style is fast and furious. I can only compare the caliber of his playing to that of M Ward, but different. On his 2005 full-length release Motion and Language, he played all the instruments except drums.
He is a powerful songwriter, and the music and energy of his impassioned singing style hammer those lyrics to the listener.
The voice is raw, it screams for attention and cries for answers, and sometimes it is soft and tender. The songs tell of his year spent living in Spain. They reflect his reactions to a different culture, inner reflections, longings for home and familiarity, and his affirmation to take life on-- to change and grow. Although the songs are personal, they are universal and capture the essence of youthful concerns in a literary mode.
In the opening track, “Wisdom Tooth,” he sings, “I’m getting my last wisdom tooth in now / maybe this will be the one that works,” and as the song concludes, “I’ll plant my roots on a wrought iron bench,” repeating that line over and over, declaring a realization. In “Fighting Windmills,” he sings to propel himself forward, "I’m gonna manifest some destiny.” The last song of the CD proclaims, “We’re not yet the tired husks of men / Our hands are still young, and our fingers need blisters.” He knows he has time to grow, but he feels a sense of urgency. This is just a sampling of the lyrical content, every song has memorable phrasing and meaningful substance.
The words on paper are powerful enough, but hearing them sung fervently adds additional weight that resonates with his listener.
From beginning to end, this CD works as a whole and seamlessly flows with solo acoustic musing and a full-out band sound. This is not the kind of CD you hear just one song, you get the gist of its strength. Every track emphasizes different instruments creating a cohesive but diverse approach. Recently I saw Wildebeest at a show and heard him play his new songs, He was mesmerizing. I could barely recognize some of the older songs he played. They were new again, inspired by a more bluesy direction. His voice moans, howls, groans, and occasionally yodels. The guitar playing was more subtle. I wasn’t disappointed. I left, saying to myself that I just saw a music legend in the making.
Home and Time EP 2005
Motion and Language LP 2005
Full-length vinyl will be done soon.