Birthed while staying in a quiet nature-dwelling cabin in Helen, Georgia that overlooks the Blue Ridge – in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains – Georgia Gothic has nods to a wide range of cultural references. Starting with art. The title and album cover of Mattiel‘s third album points towards American Gothic – the 1930 painting by Grant Wood, which depicts a farmer alongside his daughter holding a pitchfork. Something which both Mattiel Brown and the promoted member of Mattiel Jonah Swilley hold on the LP sleeve. The fact they are dressed like devils rather than farmers could be about the blurred lines between Mattiel’s home state Georgia’s friendly community spirit and possibly adverse too-vibrant behaviour.
Furthermore, the tambourine-shaking ‘Other Plans’ also shows an appreciation for art – it’s worth noting that Mattiel Brown’s long term boyfriend is an art professor – but the expression of this importance is in the form of a French megaphone. Significant lines are: “Je nе puis vivre personnellement sans mon art. Mais je n’ai jamais placé cet art au-dessus de tout (I personally cannot live without my art. But I will never put this art above anything.”
The Dandy Warhols-style indie rock single ‘Jeff Goldblum’, is of course name- dropping the actor from The Fly and Independence Day, whom Mattiel Brown has openly admited in interviews that she had a crush on. However the tongue- in-cheek song actually details a dream she had; a bathroom encounter with an enigmatic Goldblum look-a-like and resembles moments that one can’t help but surrender to.
While ‘Boomerang‘ cites Miley Cyrus, when saying ‘Party in the USA’ , which was one of her earlier hit songs, and ‘How It Ends’ quotes both Guns N’ Roses and puts Mattiel in the position of a Jesus Christ-type execution, more significantly the foggy, horn-filled Lockdown-inspired ‘Subterranean Shut in Blues’ odes heavily to Bob Dylan. It follows on from Radiohead‘s ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’ in its altering of Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues’. However, Mattiel also goes further than Radiohead by borrowing several lines of Dylan’s lyrics including the opening: “Johnny’s in the basement. Mixing up the medicine”. It’s an evocative track that seems take a place after a catastrophic explosion – the fact this was written during Covid restrictions and released during Ukraine-Russia conflict makes it somewhat poignant. She seems to be guilt-tripping the person whom she is in a conversation with. “A whole lifetime supply of soap and water couldn’t wash those hands”.
Trumpet-indie ‘Lighthouse’ and the psychedelic ‘You Can Have It All’ – in which Mattiel Brown’s voice is as its most Grace Slick-ish – allude to Christianity. The latter is rather sardonic: “Well, eat up, you’ll have an empty cup ‘Cause God has shed his grace on us, oh”. While the former has an uplifting message, that fits with the Southern mentality of the Georgia community , with the biblical quote from Genesis 7:12 “It’s rained for 40 days and nights” in a track that uses the lighthouse as a symbolic metaphor for helpful guidance or a welcoming haven to hide temporarily away from a storm of problems. “Аnd іt’ѕ ѕо gооd tо ѕее уоu аgаіn. Wаlk uр thе ѕtаіrѕ аnd І’ll lеt уоu іn І аm thе lіghthоuѕе. І’ll turn уоu аrоund”.
With all these winks to pop culture, ‘Cultural Criminal’ sounds like an admission of inspiration excessiveness, but the intriguing song – which has a chorus that has shades of Supertramp – is presenting a strong message about staying opinionated, sticking-to-your-guns and questioning everything, to avoid being brainwashed by advertising and government-controlled media.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.