Monday, Feb. 21, 2011
Rhythm Ethics (Genre Good)
Following his 2008 Toaster Fires disc with Rhythm Ethics, Milwaukee's Mathew Haeffel continues in semi-improvisational, groove-intensive folk rock. Seemingly influenced by the catalog of the Dave Matthews Band, Haeffel adapts that stadium-filling act's eccentricities in melody and arrangement for a smaller, more intimate approach. In the tradition of Matthews and others who have derived their jam-band aesthetic at least as much from Phish as the Grateful Dead, lyrics tend toward desperation and angst rather than joy. But couplets often seem secondary to Haeffel's acoustic guitar picking and riffing interplay with his drummer, organist and, especially, bassist. A handsome bloke with a cheery smile that belies the morose, occasionally navel-gazing nature of his songwriting, Haeffel is an able ambassador for a sound that takes the organic essence of hippie ambience (think Richie Havens) into the current century.