Grand Archives Front Man Confronts His Critics

And brings his own pocket full of stars.

On April 30, with a performance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Grand Archives will kick off its big national headlining tour in support of the recently released Sub Pop debut, The Grand Archives. Not only was the band's super-friendly front man Mat Brooke happy to do a "Reviewing the Reviews" session with us regarding write-ups of that album, he even assigned a star rating to the excerpts we read to him.SW: "The overall project of the Grand Archives, it seems, is to find the little ray of sunshine hidden in the remotest corners, to nurture and embrace it, and spread its warmth via a serene musical embrace."—The Austin ChronicleBrooke: Wow, that's an awful nice thing to say! They seem like they like the record. And Austin is a pretty good music town—they're generally a more critical town, so I'm gonna take that as a huge compliment. As far as the sunshine thing: I think maybe the record surprised a lot of folks, just knowing the music I used to make with Carissa's Wierd or even Band of Horses. And also, coming out of Seattle, they might have expected to hear gloomy, miserable music and it caught them off guard. Although I wouldn't say we made this record just to go against what people were expecting—we made it just 'cause it's kinda how we're feeling with age and where we are in life right now. All you can do is write music the way you're feeling, or it's a farce. I'm going to give this five out of five stars.SW: "Where a band's demo has firstly become so widespread and secondly been so good, it is difficult not to compare and contrast the final result with the earlier recorded matter. In this case the demos hinted towards a wider and altogether more electric sound full of soaring peaks and plummeting breakdowns....However, the final versions of these songs that made it onto the album are musically more genteel."—Drowned in SoundBrooke: Well, we had a demo, and when we redid some of the songs for the record, a lot of people were real upset that we either stripped them down or did 'em completely differently. And I would say, I can understand that they had different expectations of what the final product would be, but it's also, I mean, it's slightly unfair to pigeonhole a band into doing the same thing all the time, and if bands do feel that pressure to keep making the same song over and over, then playing music wouldn't be fun anymore. It'd be just like clocking in and going through the motions. I'm gonna give this one three-and-a-half stars, just for having too much expectations for one sound only.SW: "Much of the band's material has a lightness of touch that works as a welcome contrast to Band of Horses' more searching aspects. Brooke still favors slow-ish tempos, and a chorus like "Index Moon"'s builds in a grandiose manner, but he sounds like he's relaxed and happy, and so does his band."—The Onion A.V. ClubBrooke: Hmm. Everybody loves The Onion, that's a funny magazine. They pretty much got that right. A lot of reviews I've read, obviously they compare it to Band of Horses, but sometimes I see that as, for a writer, kinda an easy way out. It's an easy way to fill in the fodder—obviously there's a story there. I've read some reviews for us that only talk about Band of Horses. This is a completely different band. But otherwise, the review was dead-on, and I'll give it four out of five stars.SW: "When Grand Archives is most effective, Brooke treats happiness like the complicated, difficult-to-attain and -understand thing that it is, and the sonic palette supports that complication. But when that palette breaks down, Brooke's thoughtful songs sound puffed up with air, and end up floating away from the more solid parts of the record. Grand Archives is an ambitious statement for a guy trying something new pretty far into his musical life, and it's got enough going for it to hint at a greatness this band could achieve. They've got all the elements; they just need to find the right balance for them."—PopMattersBrooke: You know why I like that one? Because it does us the favor of recognizing that beyond all the hype and bands that I've been in before and all of that, this is still just a debut record. We obviously haven't 100-percent found ourselves as a band. I mean, most bands haven't on a debut record. I like that they give us the ability to have a debut record, and it seems like they feel our best is yet to come, and I certainly hope so too. We'd like to be treated as a brand-new band that has a lot left to do. I'm going to give them four out of five stars for recognizing the truth of the matter!

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