It was only May of this year that New Jersey musician Matt Mondanile last performed in Edinburgh. Under the name Ducktails the musician is prolific, releasing records, bedroom recordings and demos at a steady rate. Ducktails is back on tour with a new release Jersey Devil and he is at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh to play songs from this new record, as well as tracks from his extensive back catalogue.
Support is from Jamie Sutherland, frontman from Edinburgh band Broken Records. Tonight he is playing a stripped-back solo set featuring songs from his band and also his forthcoming solo record. With just an acoustic guitar to accompany his voice, the fragility and passion of his music gets a chance to shine. Broken Records make epic music with strings and expansive soundscapes, but tonight the beauty of the songwriting stands out and sounds brilliant in the intimate venue.
Matt Mondanile’s bedroom recordings can be a challenging listen at times. They are rough around the edges, mysterious and filled with hushed vocals and subtleties. Seeing Ducktails in a live setting is a very different experience. Mondanile creates music that feels bright, breezy and filled with the relaxing sounds of summer. When performed live, the music is given a new and exciting lease of life. The performer takes to the stage with a guitar and a variety of effects pedals to create his distinctive sound. Rhythms, percussion and beats are played via a backing track, whilst the performer concentrates on his guitar and vocals.
The set is a mix of the old and new. Classic track Surreal Exposure is a pop song in the vein of Big Star or Teenage Fanclub and sounds uplifting and joyful when played next to newer songs such as Light a Candle. Mondanile asks the sound desk to turn up the volume of the drum machine before he launches into Headbanging in the Mirror. The loud beats get the audience nodding along in approval and the song sits nicely in the middle of the short and well-appreciated set. The main set ends with the delightful science-fiction pop song Planet Phrom, where the gentle vocals and subtle guitars showcase the songwriting skills of Mondanile and the interesting and subversive music that he makes.