Review: Mat. McHugh – Live at Random Hall

Review: Mat. McHugh – Live at Random Hall

Mat. McHugh – Live at Random Hall
Track Listing:
01.) Strange Days
02.) Brand New Broken Heart
03.) By The Sea
04.) Guns of Brixton / Dub Be Good
05.) Famous Aimless
06.) Love Come Save Me
07.) Blackbird
08.) Darling, This Scene Must End
09.) Go Don’t Stop / Is This Love
10.) La Mar

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Record Label: Die! Boredom
Website: Mat. McHugh Website

Group Background:
Mat. McHugh and the Seperatista Soundsystem is the newest incarnation of former Beautiful Girls front man and mainstay Mat. McHugh. Australian-native McHugh began his career in the 1990’s and formed The Beautiful Girls in Sydney in 2001. In all, McHugh has released two solo albums, four with The Beautiful Girls and received several nominations from the Australasian Performing Right Association Awards for this work. In late-2012 McHugh established a new band, and in early-2013 Mat. McHugh and the Seperatista Soundsystem was born. “Live at Random Hall” is the band’s first official release.

Album Review:
“Live at Random Hall” is raw, authentic and alive. The live set from McHugh and company combines several genres, including singer songwriter, punk, reggae, hip hop and dub. The album is a career spanning collection of McHugh’s solo and The Beautiful Girls work, including tracks from McHugh’s 2012 LP “Love Come Save Me,” a creative mash-up of a couple cover songs, as well as an interlude from a Bob Marley classic.

The set starts off with “Strange Days,” a Bob Dylan meets Jack Johnson meets G. Love sounding track with an aptly timed harmonica solo. McHugh pays respect to The Clash with a reggae-infused cover of “Guns of Brixton,” which transitions into Beats International’s “Dub Be Good.” The creative mash-up also includes an interlude of The Sugar Hill Gang’s 1979 classic “Rapper’s Delight.” The song’s combination of reggae, punk and dub keeps the listener hooked with changing tempos and the familiar lyrics, “it’s like jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under.”

“Go Don’t Stop” and “Blackbird” are two of the sets strongest songs. The latter is a dark, guitar and bass-driven track that illustrates McHugh’s strong song writing and Seperatista Soundsystem’s cohesion as a band. The trio moves through tempo changes, a guitar solo and a ton of cymbals to create a full sound. “Go Don’t Stop” is an upbeat roots tune with a catchy chorus. About halfway through the song, the live audience responds with a loud cheer as McHugh transitions the song to Bob Marley’s “Is This Love.”

In true McHugh fashion, many tracks feel simple and straightforward. Tracks “By The Sea,” “Darling This Scene Must End” and “La Mar” are mostly stripped down, featuring guitar, bass and drums. “By The Sea” is full of catchy riffs and layered in parts with a subtle synthesized sound that mimics the flow of water. These song’s simplicity force the listener to focus on the lyrics and McHugh’s relatable stories about relationships, injustice and life’s trials. The downside is that these types of tracks can be a little sleepy at times.

Mat. McHugh and the Seperatista Soundsystem deliver big time with “Live at Random Hall.” The album leaves the listener wanting more, which, in this case, is both good and bad. On one hand, the album is solid on most fronts; and on the other hand, the album has only 10 tracks, which feels too short for a live show. Either way, a testament of any band is their ability, or inability, to translate studio material into a live show. “Live at Random Hall” illustrates McHugh’s connection to the audience. And, while none of the album’s songs are new, it is refreshing to hear each in a live setting—which is how they were meant to be heard.

Written & Reviewed By: Kit Chalberg

[Editor’s Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]