At some point in the early 2000s, I downloaded a track by Alaskan singer/songwriter Matt Hopper called "This Is the Sound (Of My Heart Breaking)." It was a slight thing, just an acoustic guitar, a lone electric lead, and some harmonies, something Hopper wrote for some sort of 365-songs-in-365-days deal, but I played that MP3 'til my computer crashed and it became lost to me forever. I met Hopper years later at Modified Arts and asked him about it. I don't think he remembered it. That hasn't stopped him from writing wry, subtly funny pop records in the meantime. His latest record, Jersey Finger, was recorded with pop wizard Richard Swift at his studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon. The songs have the same magic as that orphaned ditty: "In It for the Music" grooves on a tilting fuzzed out bass-line, "Animal Instincts" features Steely Dan horns and erudite, coke-nose funk, and "Ace" is a classic bummer jam. Hopper's backing band, The Roman Candles, borrows a moniker from a Jack Kerouac line, and it's fitting, as the only thing that keeps Hopper from the road is recording tunes. Too many, it seems, to keep track of all the great ones.
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