When I listen to Matt Tarka's song Heartbreak and Euphoria, I'm transported. I'm watching the opening credits of a film that starts in a high school parking lot with skateboards and someone's rich dad's car and a hacky sack, and the most unlikely pairing of social strata is totally gonna blow your mind by the end. What am I even doing writing a blog when I could be taking Hollywood in the 90's by storm with Matt Tarka? We could edit out all the homophobic undertones that poorly aged basically every movie of a generation and invent social media and Bitcoin.
Matt Tarka's sound fills a room with instruments in a fashion we seldom hear these days (is that a church organ AND an electric guitar solo AND an acoustic rhythm guitar?!) inheriting the twangy roots of The Traveling Wilburys. It nails a nostalgic feeling that can be found exactly at the song's title, the corner of Heartbreak and Euphoria. Sad things that sound happy are my wheelhouse. I grew up with Hootie and the Gin Blossoms and Third Eye Blind convincing me that life's darkest moments could be encapsulated in an upbeat alternative banger at the middle school dance. It's the classic bait and switch of great pop music, whether it's Robert Smith nearly gleefully weeping through a bouncy criticism of the patriarchy or The Postal Service acting as welcoming docents to a tour of a post-apocalyptic landscape.
And speaking of The Postal Service, Tarka has a voice that shares a lot of qualities with Ben Gibbard and others of his ilk, drawing a clear line through the musical trends of the past three decades. He pays homage without feeling derivative, like restoring an old car with a brand new engine. It's not something you knew you were totally in the mood to listen to because it's not something you knew existed. I did my due diligence and checked out another recent release by Tarka, Crowds, and I can confirm the vibe.
If that isn't enough, his album art features some stellar Central PA artists, M.R. Morrison (who was a featured poet back in April) and Kelly McGee who you can find at Millworks.
You can find Matt Tarka here:
@matttarka on IG
And his podcast:
@covertocoverconversations on IG