Universal Malcontent & Seemingly Solid Reality
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Seemingly Solid Reality
Seemingly Solid Reality
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Universal Malcontents CD
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The New Pornographers play Outrageous Cherry
Togetherness: The New Pornographers Play Outrageous Cherry

Like Universal Malcontents, Seemingly Solid Reality is a perfect marriage of all of the genres that inspire Smith, namely ‘60’s bubblegum and ‘70’s AM radio pop with a dash of psychedelic sound to keep things off kilter. To quote Smith, “I grew up on that early ‘70s pop radio when all those different things were mixed up. Things weren’t divided into different formats. Back then it was Anne Murray next to Deep Purple next to Kool and the Gang next to T. Rex. Nobody complained. If you tried to do that nowadays, people would think you were expecting too much of them. Today, it would be an act of political insurrection to play the Beatles next to Gordon Lightfoot and Kool and the Gang all in the same hour.” Seemingly opens with a bang on the alluring title track instrumental, which brings to mind the vibe of David Bowie’s “Heroes” with a hard-hitting glam guitar sound, a perfect mood setter for the excellence that follows. Much of the album outlines the contrasts that have been prominent throughout Smith’s writing career, namely, upbeat arrangements with deep, thought provoking messages such as on “Unbalanced in the City,” an account of urban alienation set to a punchy T. Rex beat. Other highlights include the Modern Lovers-like stomp of “Self-Made Monster” and “Forces of Evil,” which is laced with a sinister psychedelic guitar sound courtesy of Smith and Ray. My favorite song is the finale, “The Unimportant Things,” reminiscent of solo John Lennon, featuring one of Smith’s strongest vocal performances to date. – Rock n Roll Runner
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OC’s records tend to be remarkably consistent, both in their psychedelic pop style and Smith’s unfailingly tuneful writing. The differences come in feel – some albums rock harder, some weirder, some spacier, etc. While Universal Malcontents revealed a hitherto unrevealed fondness for 70s glam, Reality focuses on the band’s melodic pop side, with just enough acid glaze to keep the music firmly in the Cherry tradition. It’s not unlike the APPLES IN STEREO, minus the sugar overload and the lo-fi detritus. The record’s even almost BEACH BOYS-like in spots, underscored by Smith’s vocal resemblance to MIKE LOVE. With cool, catchy tunes like “I Like It,” “Self-Made Monster” and “My Ghetto,” Seemingly Solid Reality is one of the most unpretentiously enjoyable items in Outrageous Cherry’s catalog. – Michael Toland / The Big Takeover
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The album also offers a couple of classic Outrageous Cherry pop moments: “Fell” is fantastic,with a classic melody, twice-shy lyrics, and a relentless drone that recall the band’s self-titled debut (and reaffirms why peers like the New Pornographers and Wilco love this band), while “Un-American Girls” backs its sly subversion with jet-engine guitars. But most of Seemingly Solid Reality is much more introspective, edging closer to singer/songwriter territory than the group usually does. Even “Forces of Evil”’s spiraling guitar solo feels somehow inward-looking, while “I Like It” and “The Unimportant Things” are as confessional as Smith and crew have ever gotten. Seemingly Solid Reality drifts by in a thoughtful haze, and if it’s not as immediate as what came before it, that might be the point. – Heather Phares / All Music Guide
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To those who ordered the New Pornographer’s latest LP, Together, with the bonus Outrageous Cherry 7″ of The New Pornos covering this much overlooked Detroit, power pop band, the reactions likely spanned from “Who?” and “What?” to “Why?” The who and what you can find on your own using the modern marvel that is Google, and the why plays itself out below with Outrageous Cherry’s latest offering, “Fell.” Imagine, for a moment, what those Brooklyn neo-hippies and their followers would sound like if they focused more on their songcraft and less on their style, and you’re awfully close to the vibe of this one, where a soft, easily flowing drone accompanies vintage, Pet Sounds pop. It’s classic, contemporary, memorable and all wrapped up in under three minutes, the way a pop song should be done. – I Rock Cleveland
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These are heady days for Detroit rock auteur Matthew Smith. Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy sang — or at least shouted — his praises from the stage in Ann Arbor last year, while the New Pornographers released an EP of Outrageous Cherry covers. It’s a good time, then, to come out with a new OC album, and Smith and company put their best foot forward with a typically engaging 11-track set recorded in Hamtramck and rooted in the garage and thick, fuzzed-out psychedelia of the quartet’s previous outings. Smith taps into the current political and economic gestalt in songs such as “Unbalanced in the City,” “Fell” and “Forces of Evil,” while “Nothing’s Changed” and “I Like It” offer full-bodied pop and “Self-Made Monster” employs a bit more ambience and sonic space. OC’s “Reality” is certainly solid, and the album will undoubtably win over those who wonder what the fuss is all about. – Gary Graff / The Oakland Press
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The meat of this eleven-track album is its middle: cuts four to seven. They are engaging and urgent, even the ballad, along with various strata of familiarity. “My Ghetto” is a snappy, mid-tempo tune that carries echoes of post-Smile debacle Beach Boys, one that if Dennis had sung with the verve of Carl. – David M. Snyder / Looking For the Magic
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Seemingly Solid Reality loosely pulls together eleven tracks that examine the life lived a little off-center. The self-titled instrumental title track which opens the album has a 70s sci-fi, western feel which immediately sets the bar high for the album. On the “The Happy Hologram," the same tone is revisited. Musically, it doesn’t sound anything like Bowie’s "Space Oddity" but it uses the same setting to establish a feeling of distance from humanity. – Rinjo Njori / Earvolution
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Matador Records released Together, the new album by the terrific New Pornographers, yesterday, May 4th. So what does that have to do with Detroit? Well, in addition to the album, the label is releasing a limited-edition, 7-inch vinyl EP, entitled Togetherness: The New Pornographers Play Outrageous Cherry, which will be given out for free (while supplies last) when you purchase the new CD at a local independent record retailer (or it you pre-ordered the disc at Matador’s Website, though it’s a little late for that now).
The EP features the Pornographers doing covers of three songs — "George, Don’t You Know," "Togetherness" and "Electric Child of Witchcraft Rising" — by our own Matthew Smith and what the Matador site refers to as "the insanely underrated" Outrageous Cherry. – Metro Times
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Efeeme review (Spain) | Planet Gong review (FR)
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Photo by Doug Coombe
Universal Malcontents press

Using prototype power pop/psych pop bands as a sounding board and flavoring it with early seventies UK rock and roll such as Mott the Hoople, mid to late period Beatles and a little Roxy Music should have you salivating just at those credentials alone. Outrageous Cherry doesn’t limit them selves to sounding like a revival band. They merely expand upon their influences and weave well-crafted songs about Rock and Roll, Memories, Shadows, Life, Everything in-between and Death.
Outrageous Cherry have become known as saviors of the Psych Pop genre and lauded by such luminaries as Little Steven. Main singer songwriter-Matthew Smith rolls out this 13th LP. So come running out behind that giant magic mushroom. Lay back. Drag on the hookah and blissfully enjoy the adventure. – Christopher Duda / Sugarbuzz magazine
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It’s been a good run in recent years for Outrageous Cherry. Aside from having a hits compilation curated by Little Steven Van Zandt and their spacey version of Junior Kimbrough’s “Lord, Have Mercy On Me” being picked for the excellent Black Snake Moan soundtrack from a couple years ago, the band has also released a solid ninth album, Universal Malcontents. Ever the American music revivalists, the new record doesn’t break much new sonic territory for O.C. (or rock n’ roll in general), but that’s the point– its self-conscious vintage flavor will make fans of their stripped down psych pop feel right at home in a dreamy version of the Seventies. There’s plenty of reasons to believe O.C. are fully conscious and unapologetic of their decidedly old-school references. Clap-along “It’s Not Rock N’ Roll (And I Don’t Like It)” explores the inreasingly Internet-based soundscape of pop culture (”computers only made you smile/ program you with so much style”) and “The Song Belongs To Everyone” nods at the changing music industry (”the song belongs to anyone/it swept through fibers and wires to meet your desires”). Futuristic references, like the rocketship synth touches on “What Have You Invented Today?” and lyrics that mention new dances point further to an overall feeling of clash between an increasingly old-fashioned artform and wherever it is American popular music is heading. There are some tracks, like the slow, stripped down “Horizon” lack O.C.’s fortes of psychedelia or wit. But even if O.C. isn’t your bag, Universal Malcontents might find a nice niche as a groovy addition to a summer soundtrack. – Motor City Rocks
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Top Jam of the Week: I Wouldn’t Treat My Enemies The Way You Treat Yourself by Outrageous Cherry.
Matt Smith and Outrageous Cherry make crafting a top jam seem so easy: Find a hook, add hand claps, oohs and aahs, then lay down a beat and some words about a woman who’s done you wrong, and top jam. Yet, if writing a pop song was so easy, then every hack with a guitar and a dream would be doing it, right? If writing a pop song was so easy, we certainly would have found the next Beatles by now, right? There’s something else at work here. Smith has this way with phrasing, deftly dodging the rhythm section when "I Wouldn’t Treat My Enemies the Way You Treat Yourself" picks up some serious steam in the chorus. The tempo, itself, doesn’t undergo a noticeable shift, and there isn’t a dramatic change volume. Nor, is there a screeching guitar solo to signify, "Now, this is where sh*t gets good." No, that work is left largely to Smith’s lyrical ramble tambles delivered in double time. Lines like, "Call my name/It’s the same one you once knew/Just one more thing you outgrew/You’re so difficult to please/I wouldn’t treat my enemies the way you treat yourself," wouldn’t sound nearly as pointed if they were properly enunciated or carefully crooned. Similarly, without Smith’s urgent cadence, the song itself would be just another power pop song about a girl to slot in your iTunes playlist between Matthew Sweet and Sloan. Instead, we have top jam.
Universal Malcontents, the ninth album by Detroit’s Outrageous Cherry, is out now on Alive Records. Fans of Sloan, The Apples in Stereo, and pop songs in general, should not sleep on this one. - I Rock Cleveland
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Outrageous Cherry’s music recalls simpler times. More than just evocative of the psychedelic rock’s earliest years, the band’s ninth album brings back the long-forgotten belief that a band could make a complete statement in 36 minutes – 10 songs no less. Universal Malcontents# remembers the days when lyrics make the title of the song obvious by their recurrence, which was a good thing because that repetition kept the song alive long after it was over. – Mike Shanley / Blurt
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Matthew Smith’s Detroit fuzz-pop drone devotees stalk the sunnier side of psychedelia but with its inherent wistfulness and his own wry surliness indicated in the title that also belies his activities in country-ish Volebeats as well as giving reason to merit their inclusion on the Skip Spence tribute More Oar. Smith’s Joey Ferry slur on opening debris of slouch-glam T-Roxy jam Waiting For Your Dog that could just be I Recognized Her saunters into a sedated Beach Boy sloop on The Song Belongs To Everyone (‘…And I want my 50 per cent…). It’s Not Rock’n’Roll (And I Don’t Like It) should be reason enough for any self-respecting, or fuck it, any, underground/outsider rock fan to buy the album for the title alone (and that’s discounting the equally eloquent riposte I Wouldn’t Treat My Enemies The Way You Treat Yourself) never mind the Feels Like Shadows and Horizon being electrified everythings and more that the Mary Chain’s Stoned And Dethroned shoulda been (great as that slight release is) as well as Parsons-style monuments beneath the floppy fuzz, the blissed out blur of Outsider is something you can imagine Bobby Gillespie excitedly/nonchalantly sloping about to and it’s easy to surmise an obvious influence on Dandy Warhols but rather much better as it appears unaffected. On the go for some sixteen years this is incandescently lovely and a blessing in disdain not to ignore. – Stu Gibson / Sleazegrinder
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At first, the intro to "Recognized Her," the lead song on the new LP, comes at you like something off T. Rex’s Electric Warrior. But then this ghostly evocation, if you want to call it that, quickly disappears and is replaced by nutty piano and squirrelly guitar runs and a chorus of sha-la-las, all curiously catchy and lovable. Better yet are the darkly funny and hard-charging rockers "It’s Not Rock ‘n’ Roll (and I Don’t Like It)" and "I Wouldn’t Treat My Enemies the Way You Treat Yourself," songs that, in fact, have a more indelible Smith footprint. Outrageous Cherry’s freakout jam-band loyalists might find themselves wanting with the material on this disc, but that’s perhaps more than made up for with the jangly cruiser "The Song Belongs to Everyone," the black-hearted ballad "Feels Like Shadows," and "Outsider," a drowsy, midtempo, countrified bubblegum psych-garage smash that conjures Love’s Forever Changes and drinking dandelion wine on the eternally sun-drenched hillsides of an imaginary 1967. – Walter Wasacz / Metro Times
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With the release of a new record, Universal Malcontents, I thought it high time to put together a comp for the uninitiated. The songs reflected here, culled from a sizable output over the last fifteen years are nothing short of genius (…) Led by Matthew Smith (who’s also a member of The Volebeats) is more in the zone than ever before, whether on the glam-inflected opener, "I Recognized Her", the two minute brilliance of "Anymore", the shimmering psychedelic "Feels Like Shadows” or the sarcastic stomp of “It’s Not Rock N’Roll (And I Don’t Like It).”, Universal Malcontents is Outrageous Cherry’s most engaging record in nearly a decade. These tracks, as well as several from Out There In The Dark, and many others are all represented here. – Conqueror Of The Moon
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Outrageous Cherry on NPR for the The Hamtramck Blowout
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Gonzai review | Tinnitus webzine
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Until the band’s “discovery” last year by LITTLE STEVEN, OUTRAGEOUS CHERRY had toiled faithfully in the shadows for years, known mostly by underground pop cognoscenti. Which is a shame, really, as the Motor City quartet’s string of psychedelic rock/pop LPs has been quite fine. This late in the game, the band could be forgiven for coasting on its considerable talents, but instead Universal Malcontents may be its best album yet. There’s no conceptual thread here, no locus other than the desire to write and record excellent tunes. Leader/songsmith MATTHEW SMITH is more on form than ever before, whether on a cosmic blues rocker like “Outsider,” a shimmering psych popper like “Feels Like Shadows,” a glam-inflected choogler like “I Recognized Her” or a sardonic stomper like “It’s Not Rock N’ Roll (And I Don’t Like It).” Universal Malcontents is, I think, Outrageous Cherry’s most consistently engaging album, and that’s saying a lot. – Michael Toland / The Big Takeover
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Nine albums in, and Outrageous Cherry still find ways of making their vintage-steeped music sound fresh on Universal Malcontents — by exploring other classic sounds. Matthew Smith and crew know their rock history inside and out, and know how to evoke early to mid-’70s pop and rock atmosphere, from the album’s warm, roomy sound to its double-tracked vocals, strutting guitars, handclaps, and piles of piano and organ. There are a couple of quintessential Outrageous Cherry moments of fuzzed-out garage pop with bittersweet melodies and smart lyrics, like the reverb-laden "I Wouldn’t Treat My Enemies the Way You Treat Yourself" and the album closer "Memory," which compares memories to horror movies and once again proves this band is expert at putting a sugary, crunchy coating on sour feelings. The rest of Universal Malcontents, however, finds them casting farther afield. "I Recognized Her" borrows a bit of Sparks’ and Roxy Music’s synth-tinged glam, giving a sharp, sci-fi edge to Smith’s always-witty songwriting. Meanwhile, "Anymore" dresses up its hooks in ’70s AM pop balladry, another apt setting for Smith’s way with song structure and wordplay ("Feels Like Shadows" is also a fine example); "The Song Belongs to Everyone" adds a bit of boogie to its cleverly crafted story of a songwriter compelled to create despite the perils of the music business and anonymity: "I want my 50 percent/Before it’s all spent." "Get Out While You Can," a swampy rocker that conjures muggy Detroit summers, hits harder than any Outrageous Cherry songs in recent memory, providing a welcome reminder of just how diverse their sound can be. This is especially true of "Outsider," the lone epic among the rest of Universal Malcontents’ classically proportioned two- and three-minute pop songs. Combining Mott the Hoople’s good-natured ambling with the improvisations of bands like Amon Düül, the song feels like the sunny, jammy culmination of the excursions the band embarked on with Supernatural Equinox and The Book of Spectral Projections. At just ten songs long, Universal Malcontents’ conciseness adds to its throwback feel, but its eclecticism and focus make it another solidly enjoyable album from a band that seems to have nothing but solidly enjoyable albums in its catalog. – Heather Phares / AMG
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Sounds like a bad-ass classic rock radio station.
Rating: 11/15 fuzzed out guitars. – Makeshift Reviews
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Outrageous Cherry plays psychadelic rock and beyond
A UNIVERSAL SOUND: Psychedelic garage-rock only begins to describe Outrageous Cherry’s sound, which gleefully incorporates influences from all over the spectrum. "I Recognized Her," the opening track from "Universal Malcontents," starts off with a T. Rex-cellent guitar riff and Motown-ish four-on-the-floor snare drum hits, while Smith’s vocals and keyboard washes are reminiscent of Roxy Music founding member Brian Eno. That’s probably no accident, as Eno’s 1973 solo debut, "Here Come the Warm Jets," happens to be Smith’s favorite album of all time. "That album totally changed the way the whole world looked to me," says Smith, who also names debuts from the Velvet Underground and the Stooges as a couple of his all-time faves. – interview with Matthew Smith for the Detroit Free Presss
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The band’s ninth full-length offers up superbly crafted slices of pop-rock that are ready for radio of an earlier time, an era lamented in the aptly titled “It’s Not Rock ‘n’ Roll (And I Don’t Like It).” College DJ’s all over the world must surely be lining this up as the third part of a triptych that opens with Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” and Rubinoos’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead.” Disappointment bred of a decade in the music business also threads through the lost-love song “This Song Belongs to Everyone,” and a general farewell to youth is painted as metaphorical dusk in “Feels Like Shadows.” The band stretches out to eight-minutes for the psychedelic guitar jam “Outsider,” and closes with a realization that fealty to the past may only retard one’s step into the future. There’s irony to be found in retro melodies accompanying lyrics like “you never bring me nothing new” or “your memories won’t make you wise / your memories are a thin disguise,” but with melodies as good as the originals, who really cares? – Hyperbolium
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Some 41 years after "Satanic Majesties Request" comes the follow up album. It’s called "Universal Malcontents," and it wasn’t recorded by The Stones; it’s the latest installment in a long line of recordings by Outrageous Cherry. They are from Detroit, a city that gave us Alice Cooper, Mitch Ryder, Frijid Pink, MC5, Grand Funk Railroad, Motown and so much more. They play British Invasion psychedelic garage rock with courage, passion and respect. They sound like a mix of Bowie, T-Rex, Sparks, Roxy Music, and Brian Jones’ early Stones. What else do you need to know? It’s worth the price of admission just to hear the 8-minute psychedelic masterpiece "Outsider." This is the cut guitars were invented for and channels "Wild Horses," Ray Davies and the Kinks. You’ll be reminded of The Beatles ‘Get Back," The Stones "Street Fighting Man," and the Ramones when you hear the instant classic, "It’s Not Rock and Roll (And I Don’t Like it)." The CD contains 8 other hook-filled tunes that will take you back to tomorrow. There’s the Troggsish "Feels Like Shadows," and amazing fuzzy guitar on "This Song Belongs To Everyone." "I Wouldn’t Treat My Enemies The Way You Treat Yourself" starts with a McCartney count off and then on to what could be a great lost Turtles tune from the later part of their career. Jagger or Lennon would have had a field day with the Oasis-like "Horizon," a song about stories on the other side of sameness. Track eight reminds us that love grows where my Rosemary goes so "Get Out While You Can.’ What am I talking about? You’ll understand when you get yourself a copy of "Universal Malcontents" by Outrageous Cherry or is it "Outrageous Cherry" by Universal Malcontents? Don’t matter, it’s not only rock and roll and you’ll love it. – "Lady" Jane Rushmore / areuonsomething
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The Detroit quartet mixes sweet 60s pop with psychedelic lo-fi garage (is that actually a genre?) and a tad of fuzzy indie rock and the result is absolutely candy for my ears. – Subspace Biographies
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This is the bands 9th release, so I don’t know where you’ve been while these dudes have been working their asses off to bring you some killer Motor City, Kick out the Jams, Roxy Music, Mott the Hopple–rock and roll type shit. – Ohh … Burn!
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The latest from Detroit’s finest psych/garage/glam/power poppers. – The Big Takeover
Michael Toland’s Top Ten — February 22
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