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Transistor Radio [VINYL] Import

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M. Ward: A Wasteland Companion

“I can trace all my songs to a specific moment,” M. Ward told a New York Times writer in February of 2009, as he was about to release, Hold Time, his acclaimed third release for Merge Records. “Sometimes it’s as insignificant as a friend of yours saying something, a turn of a phrase. Other times it’s like an epiphany moment or ... Read more in Amazon's M. Ward Store

Visit Amazon's M. Ward Store
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Product details

  • Vinyl (22 Feb 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B0007KIFIW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,029 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By P. Sharpe VINE VOICE on 27 Feb 2005
Format: Audio CD
M Ward is one of those rarities, an absolute genius at his genre, if you get chance to see him live, watch in awe as his fingers cover the whole fretboard at amazing speed producing beautiful fingerpicked alt. country music that has heart and soul and is just not a technical masterclass exhibition of guitar playing, while remaining about as modest and humble as one could ever possibly be. I chatted with him after his show in Birkenhead in 2003, he was charming.
Further listens may prove me wrong but i don't believe this album is quite in the same league as its two predecessors, Transfiguration of Vincent and End of Amnesia. It does grow however with listens.
The opener, You Still Believe In Me is a delicate acoustic finger picked instrumental cover of one of my favourite Beach Boys songs off Pet Sounds. One Life Away, starts the more country theme which tends to be followed throughout the album.
Whereas the previous two albums were definitely alt country, with the emphasis on Alt, not that that they were that alternative but they were definitely not country which often bands tagged with the genre alt country tend to sway towards,this one is definitely going in that direction.
There are less of his usual little spoken bits going on in the background in the middle of songs and his voice is just that little bit purer this time. It still has the slight gruff rasp of Tom Waits or Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) while remaining sweet by the Neil Young in him.
Stand out tracks, Sweethearts on Parade with its Grandaddy-esque drone guitar in the background. Hi Fi is the most singable. Parts of Big Boat recall a country version of Gomez's Whipping Picadilly and include female backing vocals which is a welcome addition to M Wards music. Pauls Song is also fab.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marley's Ghost on 8 Nov 2006
Format: Audio CD
I've just discovered this guy, and can't recommend this album enough.

It doesn't matter what your into, just buy it. Buy two just in case the first wears out.

If we're talking influences then how about this for a hand John Fahey, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Muddy Waters, and a very heavy dash of Louis Armstrong. The album seeks to feel like a long dusty car journey with the radio tuning in to anything and everything. There's even some Bach and a Mariachi Band.

Matt Ward is a fabulous guitarist, a clever lyricist and he arranges each track with an artists attention to detail, but even above all this it's his voice that is the slam-dunk. He has obviously sold his soul for that voice, but we are all the beneficiaries. Warm, human, and as much depth and character as you could shake a stick at.

There are no favourite tracks here, but Four Hours in Washington and Oh, Take Me Back remind me of why I listen to music. It's all worth the effort when you turn up a gem like this.

Matt Ward deserves a much higher profile than he gets because he's got more talent in his little finger than all the other celebrated singer-songwriters being bandied about put together.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Oct 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What a voice. I am so glad somebody pointed this boy out to me because everyone else is really missing out on something fantastic here. Some songs, i admit i have my favourites - whereas my friend loves those i prefer less! - but thats all on taste. I couldn't name one bad song on this album, and his voice, i mean WOW what a voice. Unique as hell. Individual. Something that i literally beg you to at least listen to. Yes, i was utterly thrilled when i got this, and i think you would be too.
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By Rappers on 19 Feb 2008
Format: Audio CD
This album has a kind of timeless quality to it. It can kind of breeze by and transport you with it. M.Ward's music seems so out of touch with modern rock & pop, that it almost feels like he's arrived in a time machine from the 50's with his songs. However, I haven't heard an album as good as this for a long time. "One Life Away" "Hi Fi" & "Paul's Song" are almost perfect. His new album "Post War" is great too but this is the top of the pile for me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 29 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Beyond Definition but Astounding: This is one to Buy 25 Feb 2005
By Robert E. Murena Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
M Ward's Transistor Radio is an eclectic mix of genres that is captivating in its beauty and scope. If I needed one word to describe the album it would be ethereal. With influences both classical and popular this album hearkens back through the years giving it an ultimately timeless feel. I highly recommend this one.

Transistor Radio opens up with "You Still believe in me" which showcases Wards musical ability with this purely American tune that is reminiscent of Bluegrass and Folk. And of course worthy of note is his cover of Louis Armstrong's "Sweethearts on Parade". I am always fearful when an artist sets out to cover Armstrong. It usually sounds more like a mockery than serious art. But Ward is so focused and creative that he can pull it off making the work something entirely new while still keeping the feel of the Armstrong original. Lastly, I must mention "Fuel for Fire" which is exemplary of wards haunting vocals and "Four Hours in Washington" with its shuffling rhythm sound like a Tom Waits song.

M Ward is a true artist and this is a great work. If I had to compare him to anyone it would be to Tom Waits. They both have a real knack for mixing genres and adding subtle hints and allusions to other styles and songs. They are both true American Artists. Transistor Radio has wide appeal and I think fans of "emo" to fans Billie Holiday will find this a great album. M Ward is one to watch and this is a super album. Buy a copy today.

Ted Murena
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Another Timeless Album by Matt Ward 23 Feb 2005
By Kevin Weel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Mr. Ward manages to release an album that maintains the timelessness of Transfiguration of Vincent, his indescribable and impeccable previous release. Transistor Radio is a collection of short songs that isn't as cohesive as his previous release, but as you move from song to song you understand this is by design. Each song is crafted not simply from folk and bluegrass but also 50s AM radio, the saloon cabaret of studio-era Hollywood, and good old-fashioned indie rock.

I think what makes M. Ward most appealing is how effortlessly he plays and sings, giving you the feeling that these songs were conceived and recorded in a single take. Ward is a "true" songwriter and at no point do you feel he's following or trying to create a trend by resurrecting a sound from the past. This album along with his previous releases gives me plenty of ammunition when defending a genre that has been so poorly mistreated.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Best pop album I've heard in a long time 31 May 2005
By moose_of_many_waters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is one of most texturally rich and inventive pop music albums I've heard. I'd put it up there with any album I've listened to in the last 30 years. M Ward is an outstanding musician whose bank of pop musical knowledge is immense and goes back many decades. With this CD, Mr. Ward vaults to the upper echelon of the pop music world (not in sales, but in artistic expression). There is an effortless inventiveness here that you see in only a handful of musicians. It's the rare kind of album that gets better the more you listen. Joe Henry. Elvis Costello. Nirvana. Randy Newman. These are the caliber of people/bands M Ward stands with in my book. If you want something for a casual listen - the Dave Mathews/Jack Johnson crowd - this CD probably won't work for you. But if your tastes run to meaningful music that demands careful listening, you'll love this album. Transistor Radio is a gem.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
M. Ward Sends A Postcard From the Age of Innocence 23 Feb 2005
By Gavin B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Matt Ward's luminous new CD is a faded message from a beautiful dream that begins to dissipate in our memory the moment we awake. A postcard sent from the age of innocence that reminds us of how uncorrupted we once were. Deja vu for the jaded generation living in the age of corruption, lies and Bushspeak. "Transistor Radio" is the appropriate title because it evokes the age of poplar music, when the means of listening to portable music consisted of one ear pressed against transistor radio. Long ago we could be dazzled by the beauty of song that shimmered through the static of a distant signal picked up by a transistor radio. This modern world is different and everything we do is defined by high tech digital overkill and electronic elitism. Today's commerical music is defined by the use of I-pods, headphones, and all of the attendant bells,whistles and electronic gadgetry, yet none of the music resonates with the power of those long forgotten chestnuts we heard on our transistor radios. The power of M. Ward is the his sincerity and reverence for the finely sculpted musical material and pre-digital studio techniques that many Gap generation fashionistas would regard as retrograde. Those who dismiss the charm of Ward's music, are the same folks who rely music telvision and youth targeted advertising to tell them what is hip. To his credit, M. Ward distances himself from those who buy into the megacorporate definition of "alternative" rock.

Some of Ward's originals and well chosen covers (including the vintage Louis Armstrong jewel, "Sweethearts On Parade") contain a timeless quality and warm analogical fidelity of Smithsonian field recording. The rock oriented material has charming "first-take, no redos" production quality that echoes the old garage band ethic: your first take of a song will always be the most spontaneous and heartfelt take of the recording session, no matter how ragged it sounds. "Regeneration #1" has the reckless abandon of surf band gone berserk on L.S.D. "Big Boat" sounds like an outtake from a 1956 rockabilly session at Sun Records. "Paul's Song", "Radio Song" and "Here Comes the Sun Again" are the kind of winsome songs that M. Ward excels at. Ward's plaintive vocals and the sparse instrumentation are blissful. His musical command of country, blues, jazz fretwork recalls the complexity of John Fahey's self-styled "primative American guitar."

The enigmatic M. Ward has been around for nearly a decade, counting his time with the trio, Rodriquez. Mainstream popularity has eluded Ward, but I doubt he entertains any illusions about the desirability of commercial success. Like many indie artists, Ward has seemed content to remain on the fringe of popular music playing to a handful of loyal fans. "Transistor Radio" may change Ward's cult hero status, whether he likes it or not. It's simply an album that is too good to escape the attention of a broader audience. If "Transistor Radio" makes a star of him, it's a good bet that M. Ward will not modify his unique talents to meet the demands of the marketplace. It's a reassuring that M. Ward may well build something like a career as a musician on his own terms. It would be a remarkable feat, in the hostile environment of today's megacorporate, Dow Jones driven pop music market, run by the Axis of Evil: the six major international music labels.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good, not life-changing 6 Jan 2009
By J. T. Herbert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album by M.Ward is pretty solid with some standout tracks ("Hi-Fi" is my favorite, but "One Life Away", "Fuel for Fire", "Four Hours in Washington"), and some weaker ones. On the whole, Transistor Radio could have benefited from a little less attention to spacey production values and more attention to songwriting. To me, the major emphasis of the album we less the songs, and more about using a variety of Lo-Fi production values to evoke a vague, dreamy nostalgic feeling. The arrangements are by and large interesting and engaging, but often things are obscured by too much reverb, most especially M. Ward's vocals, which are laconic, breathy, and drowned in too much echo to have energy or cut through the mixes. Reverb is a taste thing, but in my opinion it distracts from the stronger songs on the album and fails to help the weaker ones. There are some songs like "I'll Be Yr Bird" and "Oh Take Me Back" that seem to rely almost entirely on Lo-Fi production values to hold the listener's interest, but fell flat. I think the energy on this album could be a bit better, and with some slightly altered production values, cut a few songs, and add in some more of M.Ward's tasteful guitar arpeggiations and some more vocal harmonies it could have been a 5 star album. I'll look forward to M.Ward's next effort, and hopefully it will be a little stronger on songs and a little weaker on reverb.
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