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Matthew McNeal

Good Luck – 2018 (Matte Black Sound)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by Matthew McNeal

Texas native Matthew McNeal's sophomore album, "Good Luck," gets off to a rousing start immediately with the single and riveting first track, "Rumorosa." The release represents an opportunity for McNeal to stretch beyond his country roots into other sounds, some informed from heavy, indie and even punk rock.

McNeal, 25, and his drummer Andre Black, who still tour as a duo, began playing together as teenagers in the small town of Terrell, Texas. Without a decent venue in town, they got together with a group of friends and created their own space, a venue called The Adelaide with diverse shows running from heavy metal to folk with the emphasis on punk.

That spirit of open-mindedness and resourcefulness comes through in McNeal's sound, a difficult album to assign to a specific genre. It's a mix of psychedelic indie rock and country, with catchy hooks and swaying grooves. Like much of the Texas landscape, it takes on a boundaryless character.

While jangling guitars and pulsating drums propel "Rumorosa," pedal steel guitar and country overtones color the next two tracks. "Gotta Get to You" has falsetto vocals, loops, and drum parts we associate with electronica. By the time we get to "Tightrope" we sense a fusion of indie folk and dreamy country, heard again on "Come On Song." "Plum Summer" and the closer "Hard Six Years" bring ballad country.

McNeal has uncorked one of the biggest surprises of the year.