Friday Recommends, friends, music, voreplay

Special Reader Participation Edition of Friday Recommends: Saving Matt Masterson’s Soul

Last week, in response to our most recent Voreplay, someone named “Soulless in DC” wrote to say that he had been accused of “not having a soul.” Why? Because he was indifferent to all things musical. “Is there someone to be truly excited about?” he asked. Not even Radiohead had stirred his heart, a fact that made Soulless’s brothers want to disown him.

That individual was in fact Matt Masterson. Matt’s a good friend of ours. And he needs your help.

Matt needs some joy and sunshine in his life. He needs to connect with his inner rock star. He needs to know that inner rock star exists. He needs to experience what the rest of us do when we pull onto the highway, frogger over to the fast lane and then roll down the window: The recognition that this very good moment can be made perfect only with the right soundtrack.

When Dante envisioned the heavenly realms, he used musical harmony as a metaphor for the harmonious existence of celestial souls in all of Paradise. Macrobius contended (in Commentary on the Dream of Scipio) that sounds from the heavens “had to be harmonious, for they were innate in the Soul which impelled the universe to motion.” And Slash from Guns & Roses once famously stated, “Whenever society gets too stifling and the rules get too complex, there’s some sort of musical explosion.”

Do you see where we’re going with this?

We pressed Matt on something, anything musical that has caused him to toe tap or head bob. He gave us this list:

1. David Gray  2. Keane  3. “Some shitty form of 80s rock”  4. Coldplay  5. Some compilation of Eminem and Jay Z,  and 6. Madden Football background music.

Shed your tears now, people, because we’ve got work to do.

What would you recommend Matt listen to? What album opened up your musical horizons? Which artist was your first?

This isn’t about having the right musical tastes. There are no “wrong” recommendations. This is about saving Matt’s soul. If it’s Tracy Chapman that gets him excited about life, then God bless Tracy Chapman and her “Fast Car.”

So think about it, then comment. Make the most persuasive case you can. Why? Because Matt has agreed to review all the recommendations, after which he will select the one he deems most promising. (This is why you should recommend one album in particular, rather than just an artist.)

At that point, we will purchase the album for Matt (or send him an iTunes gift card to do so himself). Matt will listen to the album and then write about its soul-transforming powers (or lack thereof) in a future Friday Recommends post.

So what’s in it for you? (Besides the satisfaction of potentially saving someone’s eternal soul?) If Matt picks your album, you win a free wallet picture of Voreblog. It’s a tasteful shot from our recent photo shoot with the one and only Jenny Beck.

You need this for your wallet!

And Matt needs a soul!

Comment posthaste!


41 thoughts on “Special Reader Participation Edition of Friday Recommends: Saving Matt Masterson’s Soul

  1. Just to add some fuel to this fire that is my damned soul here are a few more musical facts about myself:

    1. The band (outside of Forever Diamond) that I have seen most in concert is Creed… and it happened more than 1 time.

    2. The last album that I listened to straight through is Pearl Jam “Ten” and it happened not long after it came out.

    3. When asked in an interview in college what 3 albums I would take with me to a desert island I answered 1) Bon Jovi “Slippery When Wet” 2) Dr. Dre “The Chronic” 3) Def Leopard “Hysteria”… and I don’t know how much my answers would change today.

    So that’s how bad this situation is… please help.

  2. I have no doubt that the perfect album is Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It speaks to your emotions one track at a time and sends alternating shock waves of melancholy and joy to awaken even the deadest of souls. The music, simply, is art. The words are poetry. If you allow the sounds to take over the din of your usual existence, it will transform your lazy Sunday afternoon into a reflection on your life.

    You have to listen to the whole album though. Also, you must be prepared to delve into the depths of your emotions – so this is not an everyday album, nor is it for a musical imbecile. For this reason, I would not recommend for you. Given the small but significant hope that the presence of Pearl Jam’s Ten brings, I do not think we are at the point of no return. So I will not prescribe the shock treatment of music at this time. However, should you deteriorate further and this grand statement can’t save you, I fear nothing can.

    The album I recommend for you – to make your toes tap and your heart sing – Weezer’s Blue Album. The Blue Album, I argue, is one of the best, if not the best, road trip albums ever made. Rock out and enjoy.

    P.S. Love the blog!

  3. I can’t narrow it down to just one album. After seeing an unbelievable U2 show on Tuesday night I can’t help but think that you should own Joshua Tree. Cliché? Maybe, but also a great classic album. My other pick for you is Wilco Summerteeth. It’s an oldie but a goodie in the Wilco catalogue, and my personal favorite. There are so many other good options out there maybe I’ll go 1995 and make you a mixtape.

  4. JKR – Thank you for your post. “musical imbecile” may sum me up perfectly.

    Mike – Did I like the Creed concerts? I liked them in the same way one enjoys a Monster Truck show. Yes Truckasaurus is kinda awesome and the flames shooting out of his nostrils are cool… but did I like it… I guess… was it transformational… not really.

  5. I really think you should start with something not too deep, but catchy and eclectic. Like I’ve told you before, you should check out Vampire Weekend. Their songs can run together after a while, but I think they’re grrrreat. Good luck to you in the afterlife.

  6. What we have to do here is cater to the man’s sensibilities. You like Pearl Jam, Coldplay, David Grey, and Creed? Well, we need to somehow take these, mangle ’em all together, and come out with something with a little credility.

    So, Pearl Jam: He likes to rock, but does he like folksy, enviornmentalist Pearl Jam? Probably not, because this “Ten,” back when they were straight up Eddie Vedder jumping from balconies onto adoring fans Pearl Jam. So let’s stick with that, what makes you want to crowd surf.

    Coldplay, Keane and David Grey: All from the UK, all emotion driven, falsetto sung, pop music. Quite the change from Pearl Jam, but we can use it.

    Creed, Def Lep, Bon Jovi: He likes the cock rock. 80’s cheesy cock rock. Nothing wrong with that, I say. This may make things different, though.

    So, mix them all up, get your self a good stew going, and what do you get?


    While I am not a huge fan of this band, I will admit that that they are quite talented, despite their connections with the Twilight series (Not their fault). But think about how they stack up:

    Do they bring the rock? Yes.
    Are they from the UK, use falsettos? Yes.
    Are some songs unadulterated cock rock? Most certainly. Cue up “Stockholm Syndrome.” Has all of the above. I have several friends, who I respect, that LOVE this band. I think they are credible in the stuck-up music world. Some, as much as I disagree, compare them to Radiohead. This may help with his brothers. Personally, I think “The Bends” should solve his problems, but he’s already turned that down.

    Get this man a copy of “Absolution,” I say.

    Side note for Voreblog: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down have a new album out this month. I got an early copy, and it is somehow an improvement on the first. Also, have you heard David Bazan’s new solo record. I’m interested to hear your take on it, as the entire album is about his struggles with maintaining his Christian faith.

  7. Matthew — We have not heard David Bazan’s new album. It’s going on our list.

    Matt — We didn’t specifically ask you this, but which Radiohead have you tried but disliked? Because if you haven’t touched any of “The Bends,” we’ll echo Matthew’s prescription. That’s where you need to start. (We were already planning on giving you a burned copy along with the iTunes gift card.)

  8. Brother Matt,

    Remember, the first step is to admit you have a problem. You have done so, and I am proud.

    I really have to admit my own complicity in your musical idiocy. I can’t help but feel responsible. All those days in my room listening to Extreme’s “III Sides to Every Story” while you were out throwing the fooseball around with the neighborhood kids… all these evenings plucking away at Brian’s Hondo II guitar while you were trying to watch SportsCenter for 405th time that day…. well, I think I drove you away.

    I need to think about this… but I will do my best to save you from the eternal flames of hell. If not, I may join you there for my recent very public reference to Donovan McNabb as “the guy whose girlfriend shot him and then shot herself.”


  9. Ben- Ok just for some clarity…Are we looking for something relatively recent that Matt may not have heard or something he should have heard 20 years ago?

    If it’s the former, then I think I have an idea or two. If it’s the latter, then I say Led Zeppelin IV.

    1. So long as it stirs the soul (Matt’s soul), the music can be from any decade, century or millennia.

      (And since I know this is your next question: No, Cher does not stir the soul.)

  10. I’ve spent a little while trying to top Matthew Leather’s recommendation to check out Muse and just can’t do it. I also debated Weezer, but I was thinking more along the lines of Pinkerton to give Mr. Masterson street cred with the emo kids. I kicked around Modest Mouse (Good news for people who love bad new), Fountains of Wayne (self-titled), Pete Yorn (musicforthemorningafter), but the thought Mr. Leathers put into selecting Muse was very impressive and could not be topped.

  11. Ben – I have the whole of “OK Computer” in my iTunes library so I would suggest that is all I have listened to.

    Brother – I do hold you responsible for this current intervention but not for the reasons you site. Instead I hold you responsible for allowing Billy Joel “River of Dreams” tour being my very first concert & never telling me that the Best of Amy Grant is not an acceptable thing for a Jr. High male to be listening to. But most importantly I hold you responsible because you never told me that knowing the entire score to the HMS Pinafore was not normal for a high school youth. Why? Why didn’t you tell me?

    Matthew and Andrew – It will probably come as no surprise to you that I have never heard of Muse. So that has to be considered a real contender.

  12. I’m going to just ignore all of your background here and stick with Zeppelin 4. There’s really just nothing to dislike about this album. The only valid criticism I can think of is the sheer number of times I’ve heard these songs. Since you’re essentialy devoid of musical exposure you don’t have to sweat that.

    One can not overstate how much this group has influenced rock & roll music over the past 30 years and this is their best album.

    There might be two songs on the album that the harshest criticism I can make of them is that they aren’t great. Just good. Everything else is just awesome.

    My two favorites are “When the Levee Breaks” (it still gives me chills at the start and I’ve easily heard it a few hundred times) and “Going to California” (it somehow sums up every regret and every hope I’ve ever had, not through it’s lyric but through the raw emotion Plant expresses- I can’t explain it).

    I would love to recommend something that I like that also has an outside chance of making me look cool like a Queens of the Stone Age or some other album that I’ve liked for a few months or even a couple of years.

    In the end though, I LOVE this album. My brother (six years my senior) played this for me when I was eight or nine or ten and under the mistaken impression that Eddie Rabbit’s “I love A Rainy Night” was the coolest thing ever. This album made me like rock & roll for the following 20+ years and lead me to so many great bands that were really different from one another but they all had one thing in common…they dig Led Zeppelin.

    It’s certainly not the coolest or hippest album out there. It may not be to your tastes and it definitely doesn’t show any creativity on my part.

    It stirs my soul though. Even if you don’t pick it, you’ve reminded me why music is such an important part of my life and why all of my favorite memories have a soundtrack.

    Now I’m going to go listen to this album, because it’s been a while.

    Or, I may just buy you a dime bag since you like Dr. Dre so much.


    I have to agree with him on the suggestion of Muse’s Absolution. Track 3 “Time is Running Out” isn’t just music, it rips your soul from your body and places it in Nirvana, who is someone else that could help in our plight here. Every time I listen to this cd in my car my heart rate matches the increasing speed of my vehicle. It runs you through the full gambit of emotions: joy, excitement, despair, anxiety, and pure bliss.

    Did I mention I agree with Mr. Leathers (KAAHHHHNN!) on this?

    I also agree with him on The Bends. The one-two punch of High and Dry (track 3 again, I’m starting to notice a pattern) and Fake Plastic Trees will paralyze you. Thom Yorke’s falsetto yearning plea of “If I could be who you wanted” has kept me from getting out of my car (I’m noticing a pattern here too) until the song ends. Simply put, this album can make you contemplate your place in the world and maybe even question it.

    Now to separate myself from Mr. LEATHERS!!!

    Based on your love of sports and THE ROCK I suggest Guns N Roses Appetite for Destruction. You’ve already heard half of this album in arenas around the country. In fact, they still play it in the Jungle where my beloved Cincinnati Bengals play. Sweet Child of Mine, Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City, Mr. Brownstone, and It’s So Easy; all these hits on one album, it is like Freedom Rock. Rule of 3 coming up twice here. Every time I play this album in my car I salute everyone 0n the road I’m passing with one big rock fist. Track 3 is Night Train, not their biggest single on the album, but would have been the star on any other album circa 1987 when the album was originally released. When this album came out, I used to psyche myself up by listening to Welcome to the Jungle. The hilarious consequences of me getting so psyched and headbutting a basketball pole and almost knocking myself out still exists in the vhs library of the Keating family. This album might not be as emotionally full as some of the others, but it will definitely move you on the AWESOME TRAIN TO AWESOMELANDAWESOME.

    Those are my humble suggestions.


  14. This barf bucket of a comment string has me convinced that only one album, and one album alone will do. And that album is…

    Songs:Ohia, “Electric Magnolia Co.”–Nothing stirs the soul like Jason Molina’s gut churning warble. This album represents the peak of his songwriting, combined with a seventies rock anthemic asskicking that will be sure to move even your empty friend. If “Just Be Simple” doesn’t make Matt wonder “what the hell have I done to my life,” then he is truly without a soul.

    And hey, it was made within the last 10 years.

    We’ll all brothers of the fossil fires of the sun.

    If Zeppelin 4 comes up again, I quit this blog.

    1. Zeppelin 4 is to music as Gandhi is to hunger strikes. Both brought a miraculous change to this world.

      (knocks on wood)

  15. That’s it, I’m done. And perhaps it’s best for all of us. You love your cave, and I begrudge you no further. It’s hard to challenge yourself, to try something new. You swallow what is shoveled down your insensate gullets and call it your “tastes.” Enjoy your tepid hot dogs! Leave me to my foie gras. And you won’t have ol’JG to kick around anymore.

    1. Are we supposed to picture you getting on a plane with both hands extended like a V right now?

      You could never be Nixon. You don’t have the jowls for it.

  16. Since everyone has been quick to praise Matthew Leathers for his well-considered, thoroughly reasoned recommendation, this may be a moot point. But I at least wanted to offer an alternative. (And again, Matt, you’ll be receiving a copy of Radiohead’s The Bends — free of charge! — which may end up eclipsing any album you pick anyway.)

    Take all the key ingredients from Matthew’s delicious stew: “what makes you want to crowd surf” (Pearl Jam’s Ten) + emotion-driven UK pop music (David Gray/Keane/Coldplay) + “80s cheesy cock rock” (Creed/Def Lep/Bon Jovi). He creates a stew of Muse. We say that stew could taste like Arcade Fire’s Funeral.

    Delivers the rock? Yes. Full of earnest, honest (though non-UK) emotion? Check. A little shot of 80s cock rock? Not really. Or at all. But two out of three ain’t bad.

    This is an album that wears its heart on its sleeve. You’ve got your fist-pumping rockers (“Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and “Rebellion (Lies)”), your emotional, stadium-sized anthems (“Wake Up”), and — this is important, since you said the last album you listened to straight through was Ten — you’ve got a cohesive album that can (and should) be heard in its entirety.

    Plus they deliver a kick-ass live show that would rip Creed’s heart out and eat it Temple of Doom-style.

    This would be a big step, Matt, but you could take it.

  17. Tim by The Replacements
    Not necessarily my favorite album (I just about always skip “Lay it Down Clown”), but at their best, the Replacements a pretty perfect combination of sensitive soul stirring (“Here Comes a Regular”) and rocking (“Bastards of Young”). Let It Be might be a better record, but this one’s a great gateway. It’s even got a song (“Left of the Dial”) that touches on the joys of music you have to go out of your way to find. It’s not British, but it’s got heart, and I think it might appeal to a Def Leppard fan more than Arcade Fire. Don’t get me wrong, I love Funeral, but Tim’s got fewer possibly off-putting eccentricities like sometimes yelping, sometimes in French vocals.
    Ben, I think you’re probably right about the Bends being the perfect answer, but Thom and friends can get a bit mopey and the Replacements show a sense of humor, giving an enjoyable but throwawayish song complaining about flight attendants.

  18. I love music…but don’t know much about it…however I’m married to a music lover…w/o consultation I wonder if Jer would recommend ‘American Beauty’ by the Grateful Dead.

  19. You people have got it all wrong.

    He’s already listening to basically everything he needs. Are you kidding me? He’s got Dre, Def Lep, and Creed. If you’re going to do anything else, and really, it’s not like you’re ever going to get tired of any of those albums, but anyways, I say maybe a little more of the same. Don’t stop with Hysteria, get the re-mastered tracks from Hysteria on Def Lep’s Vault album. It’s fucking icing, man. Also, Chronic 2001 has some good parts with Redman, but really, you need to listen to the the original Chronic at least 10,000 times to get, and I mean really, really get it.

    If you MUST do something, branch out a bit, and by this I mean consider “Love and Affection” by Nelson and that one song by Kelly Clarkson where she’s “Ms. Independent.”

    Radiohead. Please. “ooooh, it’s, like, all sonically interesting, and ooooh, like layers of sound. You know, it’s never been done like that before, oooh, oooh. Ohmygod, this one has Thom Yorke shitting into a foghorn! Is he crying, or is he ambivalent? Ohmygod, that’s exactly it! And that’s how I feel all the time, ooooh, ooooh!”

    How about this idea? The Chronic is sweet and in the video this one chick’s top comes down at a volleyball game, and there’s a cookout. How about you radiohead, what do you got? Thom Yorke looking like he’s all anemic because he just drank three pints of his own blood? Um, okay.

    How about this idea? Just keep doing what you’re doing. How about this? You married Jo, the Bengals are essentially 4 and 0, you’re a bigshot beltway attorney, and you control the fucking chads, man. You CONTROL THE CHADS. Between you and me, it seems like your strategy so far is working.

    People will say, Bri, but you play guitar though. Yeah, well, wanna know why? Because I can’t dribble a basketball. How do you like that? NEVER LEARNED TO DRIBBLE. Year after year on the Mercy Meteors, never learned to really dribble (I can a little, but not without looking.) So that’s why I have to play guitar and talk about “I really admire Fiona Apple’s production tone.” And I had to go to special classes to learn to run, which Bevin Beers thinks is hysterical. And that’s what you get. And the only way you can get girls like Bevin Beers to stop laughing at you and your prosthetic shoes is to be like, “yes, I HAVE heard Natalie Merchant’s bathtub recording of ‘Sixpence Slidewhistle,’ and I really love the conch shell solo.”

    One final thing, don’t be afraid to go with what works. Need a pick-me-up? Super Mario Bros. theme. If it’s not enough, take it up a notch by grabbing one of the stars or climbing the beanpole. I’ve found any song on Link’s Ocarina is good in pinch. Jesus, where is Wade on this one?

  20. Wow… quite the response from the older brother. In Brian’s defense he eventually learned to run and played a mean right field in little league. No one paid less attention to a game than he did.

    After reading Brian’s post I am giving strong consideration to simply listening to the Daughtry album on repeat for 24 hours straight and seeing what emotions that sparks.

    But in fairness to the Vores and their hard earned cash I will refrain from Daughtryfest 2009 and select from one of the recommended albums. Now’s the chance… make your final plea.

  21. Surprisingly I would have thought someone on here would have mentioned Foo Fighters. Since no one has done so I will. Matt – There Is Nothing Left to Lose should fill the bill. While it does not have the fantastic songs All My Life, Times Like These, My Hero, Best of You, I’ll Stick Around, Come Back etc. etc. etc. – These Is Nothing Left to Lose is (in my opinion) the greatest all around album these boys have done. I wish the Greatest Hits album was already out but it’s not so I had to pick one – and I did. I defy anyone to argue with the listenability of Foo Fighters or the fact that some of their songs give you goosebumps. Not at all pretentious (take that Mike Allen). Plus Foo Fighters are a gateway to brilliance of Queens of the Stone Age and a gateway from the brilliance of Nirvana and another gateway to the upcoming (Mike Allen recommended) Them Crooked Vultures (mix a member of Foo Fighters + member of Queens of the Stone Age + member of Led Zeppelin (yes, Led Zeppelin) and you have genius). I wouldn’t lead you wrong Matt, I don’t even like music (ask Ben) and I like Foo Fighters. I would have rather made a mix of Foo Fighters but I guess that breaks the laws set forth by Vore+ unless they bend the rules.

  22. this is easy.

    group: 2 skinnee j’s
    album: sing earthboy, sing

    i’ll stop by the store sometime to pick up the wallet photo.

  23. Gomez- Bring It On.
    You’ll know about 30 seconds into the first track. If you don’t get it yet, listen to track 2, Whipping Piccadilly. Everything else is icing. Brian Masterson’s “fucking icing” to be precise. And don’t listen to Brian…all he does is hide in people’s basements (or converted dining rooms) and plays shitsy speed metal. Shitsy speed metal that chicks avoid like the plague.
    Finally, Love is Better Than a Warm Trombone (track 7) could be a winner based on title alone. They’re all winners though.
    I rest my case.

  24. This conversation is full of wisdom, wit, and enough pedantic musical puffery to power a Porsche Panamera to Palau.

    You guys are aiming too high here…you’re missing the forest for the trees. If I learned two things from Patch Adams it’s A: You have to look beyond a problem to see it, and B: Never let a schizophrenic invite your girlfriend over. We need to back out like folklorists, English professors and valets do and look at the golden thread BEHIND my sad brother’s musical influences. Again, a review of the crime scene:

    1. David Gray
    2. Keane
    3. “Some shitty form of 80s rock”
    4. Coldplay
    5. Some compilation of Eminem and Jay Z
    6. Madden Football background music
    7. Creed (live)
    8. Pearl Jam – Ten
    9. Def Leppard – Hysteria

    What do all of these have in common, musically? Simple:

    Matt’s attachment to music has nothing to do with music. Music is the language of the soul, and only those of us dedicated enough to study the notes, tone and timbre of a record actually mistake the music for its components. Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Zep and Muse are all brilliant recommendations for evolved versions of his current favorites… but let’s not mistake an interest for these musicians as an interest in their music… the lack of common musical thread betrays any notion there.

    If I have to hazard a guess (and Lord knows I have to), I’d say these are about memories… not about sitting around with headphones on and taking in the musical experience. So my advice is less about WHAT albums to buy and more about WHERE and HOW to play them. Buy whatever you want… hell, turn on the radio to the nearest crappy pop station… but make sure your life has a soundtrack. Having a special moment with Jo? Put on a love track. Driving and contemplating the deeper mysteries of life? Turn on classical. Sitting on the train and watching the world blur by through the windows? Pop in your iPod and turn on something driving and isolated. Be purposeful about including music in your life… drop it into your memories, dub it into your fantasies… let it act like the sacred script it is, and go out of your way to be around it.

    You’ll find new favorites… you won’t be able to help yourself.


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