The Mattson 2 Live at Hotel Palms April 12th 2023
There’s an endearing timeless-ness to the music of The Mattson 2.
Though the duo, made up of identical-twin brothers Jonathan (drums) and Jared (guitar, bass) Mattson, nod unmistakably to jazz and surf – music rooted in both time and place with a reasonable amount of specificity – their music has retained, even as they’ve explored new sonic terrain over the last few years, a feel – a je ne sais quoi – that’s genre agnostic and unable to be timestamped.
To me, the duo’s music pulls on a couple of seemingly disparate threads. The brothers are steeped in the ‘60s-era cosmic jazz of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (they even covered the album for the 2019 release Mattson 2 Play ‘A Love Supreme’). And while they’ve earnestly followed in the footsteps of the jazz artists who sought to transcend the connections between the physical and spiritual, they’re also undeniably influenced by the confluence of jazz, rock and surf, which were vibrating on similar frequencies in 1960s Southern California – from the pyrotechnics of Dick Dale and the Deltones’ Rendezvous Ballroom Surfer Stomps to Bud Shank’s scores for Bruce Brown’s surf films Slippery When Wet and Barefoot Adventures.
Those conscious and subconscious inputs are evident on the 2009 album Ray Barbee Meets the Mattson 2, a collaboration that first brought the Mattsons into the wider orbit of the alternative-surf scene sparked, in large part, by Thomas Campbell’s 2004 film Sprout and the 1999 prequel The Seedling, films that merged the SoCal classic longboarding revival with contemporary art, DIY music and skate culture. The Mattsons debut, 2011’s Feeling Hands, is a singular collection of expressive, tight-but-loose instrumental compositions that sound something like if Buddy Rich were to hang at Malibu’s First Point all day, then moonlight behind Charlie Christain, who, in this scenario, had been bequeathed a reverb pedal.
The duo’s 2019 full-length (their second for Chaz Bear aka Toro Y Moi’s Company Records), which charted at #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Charts, found the brothers experimenting with more traditional song structures and even vocals, explorations they’ve continued on subsequent Mattson 2 releases, collabs with other artists and Jared’s upcoming debut solo album, Peanuts (due out in April 2023).
Certainly for me, the music of the Mattson 2 represents a kind of sonic time capsule; or a memory palace of sorts. I first saw them perform in San Francisco, set up on the floor of Mollusk Surf Shop, a gathering place and cultural locus of the Sunset District where I lived.
In front of surfboards crafted by Marc Andreini, Robin Kegal, Chris Christensen, Tyler Warren, Gary Hanel, et al, and surrounded by art by Nathaniel Russell, Kyle Field, Margaret Kilgallen, Barry McGee and others, the Mattsons played songs from their just-released debut, Feeling Hands, for a full-capacity crowd, some of whom had climbed onto the shop’s mezzanine built by–like the rest of Mollusk’s interior–mixed-media artist Jay Nelson.
I copped Feeling Hands on vinyl that night. I’ve long-since worn out the grooves, as the Mattson’s music soundtracked innumerable gatherings with friends and lazy spring Sundays with the fam in the decade-plus since.
A few years after I saw the Mattson 2 at Mollusk, I caught ‘em in a grassy field in Leucadia. The event, if I remember correctly, was a board swap put on by the surf shop Surfy Surfy. It was a beautiful, temperate Southern California day. And bitchin' gathering.
I’ve been reminded of the Leucadia event nearly every time we’ve hosted a band in the courtyard of the Hotel Palms. As Greg and Julie continued to open up their space to artists, I kept coming back to the Mattsons. How cool would it be to provide the experience I had all those years ago in San Francisco to my community here in Jacksonville?
I certainly hope you’ll buy a ticket to see the Mattson 2 perform at the Hotel Palms in Atlantic Beach on Wednesday, April 12. I, personally, wouldn’t miss it.
Purchase tickets here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-mattson-2-tickets-596711890327
Words by Matt Shaw (Arts & Culture Editor, WJCT)