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Elvis Depressedly

Mickey's Dead

[Self-released; 2012]

By ; July 12, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

While many bedroom crooners get tongue-twisted talking to themselves, creating insular, self-obsessed worlds with no front door, Mat Cothran’s down-and-out music as Elvis Depressedly is intimate but direct. He’s singing to you, the ear he knows is at the door, not mumbling memories to himself. And though his lyrics may be sad, they’re never ashamed. Instead, Cothran’s latest record, Mickey’s Dead, is bold and rebellious even in its bleakest revelations.

Vibrating between vengeance, apathy and sorrow, Mickey’s Dead should be a downer. But Cothran, who you may recognize from his better-known Coma Cinema, finds something special in his particular brand of nihilism. Even when he sings about not loving his father since he “can’t remember when,” sung so simple and clean over stripped down guitar picking, his bold confession is oddly empty of self-pity or guilt. Sucking on a harmonica, Cothran turns the song into a twisted declaration of independence – a lonely boy who doesn’t lean on anyone, a cocktail of strength and sorrow. Paired with an honest voice, poetic lyrics, and Cothran’s most folksy lo-fi compositions to date, it’s the strain of strength weaved through the different shades of blue that makes Mickey’s Dead an unforgettable album.

“Prison Line (So Lovely),” one of the most outwardly defiant tracks on Mickey’s Dead, leans hard into its sucker punch. Bitter and backed off but with a stiff upper lip and some serious chutzpah, Cothran sings, “You can tear my thoughts to pieces/ Through your rotting, lying teeth/ So I’m discussed as a fuck up/ By your phony industries/ But I ain’t gonna let you/ Paint pictures of me.” A collection of lines that match this awesomely phrased “fuck you,” “Prison Line” is a slippery song that fights for the self-possession of its singer, giving permission and refusing to relinquish all in the same breath.

But meet the softer side of Mat Cothran: meet “A Bible in a Bath of Bleach,” a song that was almost a sweet little ballad for the world’s Amandas. “There’s a world of bitter ugliness/ I hope you never understand,” Cothran sings like a protective dad-type…before he talks about tossing the good book into a tub of Clorox and adds, “Let it hurt you in every way/ ‘Til you kill the need to believe.” Baby, baby, where did that protective urge go? Finishing off that tiny taste of traditional, Cothran dives again into the bitter freedom of accepting the worst and living for nothing.

The self-released album ends with a mimed transcendent number, “Road Side Memorial (Repeat),” whose repetitive running rhythm recycles the optimistic vibe of “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with every kind of ugly, including “a self portrait painted in vomit.” Like the rest of the album, the song leaves a minute before you’re ready, but a moment after you could take any more. Singing tales of untrustworthy friends, the shakes, and a bloody dress, our friendly narrator proclaims, “I don’t want or need your fucking help.”

Mickey’s Dead may hint at daddy issues, contemplate death, and reek of well-worn sadness, but it’s never self-pitying or self-conscious. The album is a strange contradiction, or perhaps a buried truth. Both consumed by a fatalistic, flawed world yet standing tall amidst the thunder, Mickey’s Dead is fascinating, honest, and unexpectedly inspiring.


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