If Matthew Good's sixth and latest solo album "Arrows of Desire" sounds a bit like a throwback to a different time it's not an accident.
In fact, the now-comfortable family man and Can-rock survivor is rather candid about what inspired "Arrows of Desire" — the emerging alternative rock bands of the late-80s like The Replacements, Husker Du and, most specifically, the Pixies.
Matt Good's feel-good first single "Had It Coming" was inspired by a song from the Pixies 1987 "Come On Pilgrim" mini-LP.
"The idea for that song I'll admit it without any shame, came from 'I've Been Tired' by the Pixies. Even though Charles' [aka Pixies frontman Black Francis] lyrics from that song are far darker: 'she's a real left-winger 'cause she's been down south and held opossums in her arms...'
Good then sings random lines from the song: "'I'm a normal guy with healthy desires...' 'I've just been tired...' How he does that! It's just so fuckin' good. And no one had done anything like that before. And you listen to it, what's that '87? And over 30 years later it still blows 90 per cent of everything out there right now out of the water. That's how good it is. It's fuckin' illegal. That's the thing about that band. I don't know, people talk about 'Sgt. Pepper' but maybe it was because this was my time. They talk about that and 'Pet Sounds' all the rest of it... but 'Doolittle,' how is that not one of the greatest albums ever made?"
The entire Pixies discography provided inspirational fuel for Good. He figures he's in solid company, though. After all, Kurt Cobain was "just trying to rip off the Pixies" when he wrote "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
"If you listen to 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and you listen to 'Gouge Away' [from 'Doolittle'] they're not so far apart. And I don't blame him. I don't blame Kurt Cobain for that at all. Because from day one of hearing that record in 1989 it influenced me. All of their records did. That album did, 'Bossanova' did... I mean, I could listen to 'Dig For Fire' 92 times in a row without it getting boring. 'Trompe Le Monde' was even better.
"'Doolittle,' from 'Debaser' on, it's a perfect album. It's just a perfect album."
The Pixies aren't the only band Good has been looking back to, though. "Add It Up" hitmakers Violent Femmes are another band he considers to be game-changers.
"Think about what the Violent Femmes alone did with an acoustic guitar, a standup bass and a guy playing a snare drum," says Good. "That's high, high country songwriting. It's unbelievable songwriting and it's like Dylan — it's timeless."
Another '80s act that inspired Good on "Arrows of Desire" was the Afghan Whigs.
"I just wrote 'Via Dolorosa' and thought 'Right on.' Actually that song I wrote after I was listening to 'Black Love' by the Afghan Whigs. I love that [lead singer] Greg Duuli just puts it all out there, he holds nothing back. Nobody sings that out of tun with that much conviction. That always generates a laugh but it's so fuckin' believeable. It's so raw and believable. Even when they're doing slow stuff it's amazing."
Still, "Arrows of Desire" isn't just about Good romancing early alternative records. There are numerous nods throughout the album that deeper-looking music fans will appreciate. The slow, pounding "Letters In Wartime" could've easily been released on '90s Brit-rock label Creation and the song "So Close" revisits The Who's bristling "Young Man Blues from their "Live At Leeds" album. The result is a window into the world of Matthew Good filtered through his favourite records. And if that sounds like a potentially rewarding experience for Good fans, rest assured it's been a rewarding one for Good, too.
"It was a helluva lot of fun to write," says Good of the new album. "And it was a helluva lot of fun to record."