Big Hassle Media
In the cloud of a dream, sleeping brain churning in a cocktail of memory and melatonin, he wandered into a wooden cave. Deep within, bathed in soft blue light, the face of Netta hovered in the shadows.
Queens-based songwriter Matt Longo had always been drawn to the stories of forgotten eccentrics, but never haunted by their subjects. And yet, upon reading of 1920’s occultist Netta Fornario, and her misunderstood end on a tiny island off of Scotland, he found himself dreaming of her on a consistent basis, often waking with a fleeting image of the woman. Netta had inexplicably left her friends and family in search of magic…and lost everything. After many years of fronting bands, and then releasing several records under his own name, Matt felt an immediate empathy for her, and recognized her story as that of an artist.
He’d recently been searching for a path forward, for a way to encapsulate a growing disillusionment with city living, crumbling relationships, and self-imposed artistic pressures. His fixation on Netta, and her real or imagined visitations, provided him with a muse for his writing, and an outlet for an exploration on outcasts, death, and the hope that might remain in its wake.
Inspired by the immersive, idiosyncratic creative process of songwriters in the Elephant 6 collective, Matt wrote songs in all-night flurries of activity in his Astoria apartment. Pulling influence from the insular world of Astral Weeks, the melodic adventurousness of Harry Nilsson, and the eclecticism of Shuggie Otis, Matt aimed to create a set of songs existing on a sonic and lyrical island of their own. He emerged with eleven tracks, songs sprawling from ornate, warm ballads, to psychedelically-tinged folk, to propulsive grooves, brimming with melody and heart.
To record the album, Matt formed a loose collective of musicians, the bulk of whom cut their teeth for years in jazz and progressive music. Recording at studios throughout the city, often with different groups entirely, depending on the required feel of a track, Matt imbued his set of wide-eyed story-songs with a rich palate of instrumentation: a lush quartet, a gleaming brass section, ethereal organs, and ghostly pedal steel, all backed by a kinetic sway and thump.
A two-year labor of love, and the debut album under his Thin Lear moniker, Wooden Cave was finally finished in mid 2019: the culmination of hauntings, of determined lyrical exploration, of intense, intimate recording sessions that allowed each song its chance to bloom.
The songs reveal different paths for their outcast narrators, the love, hope, despair, or danger awaiting them at the end of their journeys. “Netta,” the album opener, puts the listener in the titular character’s world, walking us through her last days over shivering orchestration and a cathartic conclusion. The frenetic “Maniacs,” with its relentlessly chugging pace, charts a desperate internet dweller’s alienation and pull towards cult-like thinking. In “A Simple Phrase,” backed by sweet, enveloping strings, the singer laments an ongoing, literal internal choir of insecurity, and how these voices can carry within generations of a family, before resolving to quiet them.
Wooden Cave, written for outsiders like Netta, radiates with a sonic glow that harkens back to 70’s-era studio obsessives, familiar and surprising in equal measure, like a face from a dream.
The album will be released by EggHunt Records (Lucy Dacus, Camp Howard) in May 2020.
ARTIST FEATURED ON EAR MILK, COOL HUNTING, BAEBLE AND MORE
“Thin Lear is extremely thoughtful in its combining of the five elements of music: melody, harmony, rhythm, tone color, and form.”
“An enigmatic cross between Belle and Sebastian, Wilco, and Ben Folds featuring innocent lyrics askew with a raw vintage indie rock sensibility.”
“Leaving a sweet taste in the mouth, the stream-of-conscious lyrics reflect our constantly racing minds.”
Queens-based indie artist Thin Lear shares the new track “Maniacs” today, with news of his first full-length album Wooden Cave, to be released via EggHunt Records on April 24th. “Maniacs” comes as a cross between Hot Chip and Sufjan Stevens, with the cinematic cleverness of DeVotchKa, in a narrative that explores human interaction and internet habits. The song rises and falls in a roller coaster of emotions, indicative of what’s to come on Wooden Cave.
“Disillusioned people getting lost in self-destructive or just generally dangerous thinking is a major theme of this album,” Matt Longo, also known as Thin Lear, explains. “The narrator in ‘Maniacs’ is pitching a cult-like community to an alienated, uncherished internet dweller. And you just know it’s going to be a rapid descent for this person, that they’ll soon be indoctrinated. That relentlessly chugging beat and the quick, dynamic changes in the song reflect a desperation and rapidly changing attitude. I wanted the song to feel like one breathless, spiraling fall, from the very start, with that mellotron-laden opening. And I knew I needed a wild, unhinged sax solo at the end. It was really the only choice for the conclusion of the track.”
The track premiered on American Songwriter, who called the track “immensely satisfying” and said, “Longo’s noting of mystery surrounding his songwriting process feels apt for a track that itself touches upon varying emotional phases and the frenzied and-or sluggish manner in which they can come to affect our minds.”
The saxophone solo perfectly captures the mind’s different tangents that strain one way or the other as emotions fluctuate and react to outside forces. Thin Lear has a distinct technique for displaying “pure, unmitigated emotion” (EARMILK) in a way that is almost frighteningly relatable and sincerely pleasurable to listen to simultaneously.
“There’s a sad sweetness to these tracks at their most wistful,” Thin Lear divulges as insight as to what fans can expect from the forthcoming album, “but there’s also a frantic energy to the up-tempo songs. That full range of emotion just encapsulates me, and now it’s documented.”
Born and raised on Long Island, with years of history in New York, Wooden Cave was recorded amongst various studios across the city. Much like the vastly cultured city of NY, Thin Lear pulls his inspiration from an eclectic history of influence, that ranges from Leonard Cohen, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, to Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Sam Cooke, and the leaders of the 70s John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, amongst a handful of others.
Thin Lear is best described as an eclectic singer-songwriter with alternative sensibilities. His music delivers a plaintive, sweet vocal with lush, ornate arrangements, and very intricate human stories.
Wooden Cave album artwork