"A great artist" - Gilles Peterson, Radio 1
"Simply gorgeous sounds" - Mike Scott, Waterboys
"Lush and always inventive" - Oxford Times
“These songs drip with atmosphere..”
“Simple classic songwriting and takes in woozy folk, fractured blues and battered Americana"
The Crack Magazine, Oct 18
Matt Sage is the mover and groover behind The Catweazle Club, an intimate and long-running night in Oxford that has been the launch-pad for many an act including Foals and Stornoway. The man also plays, and how, as evidenced by this superb new album recorded with his two other band members. It’s all about simple classic songwriting and takes in woozy folk, fractured blues and battered Americana. These songs drip with atmosphere and I can imagine each and every one of them sound-tracking some quality US drama (think The Wire, True Blood, True Detective).
Ocelot Magazine, Oct 18
I haven’t listened to an album like this in a while.
It’s great that so many musicians are experimenting with various technologies to explore new sounds – genres are blending and crossing over more and more these days. So, it was interesting to listen to Oxford-based band Art Theefe’s latest album ‘Dig Deep’ (release date: October 19), which has seemingly gone in the opposite direction.
As a whole Dig Deep could easily be the soundtrack to a contemporary spaghetti western – there’s a Malcolm Mclaren solace feel to it, as well as an ominous Luis Bacalov vibe. It feels very much like an enduring journey to self-discovery, and entirely engrossing.
Art Theefe, a three-piece (made up of Matt Sage, – lead singer and guitarist – Josh Rigal, – bass – and Joel Bassuk, – drums) resonates with me as classic rock ensemble with Dig Deep as their homage to this genre, bringing it back to basics, in the least basic way. It’s music in a very pure form, and I’m into it.
Their underlying rock sound is creatively explored throughout the album with songs such as ‘Steely Jam’, – an unapologetic three minute instrumental – that transcends into something demonic in ‘Cold Dark Night’. One thing I found consistent was a notable essence of Tom Waits and Black Sabbath – the tones can be harsh at times, but ultimately soothing.
For me ‘Afterglow’ is instrumentally the most enigmatic track of the album. The group work in complete synergy, the undertones of the bass echoing through the track are exceptional. Playing with the tempo Afterglow gradually transforms from start to finish – it just keeps advancing forward, which shows an energy that some of the songs don’t. It’s refreshing, and this variation highlights the craftsmanship of this album.
A further thing to note is Sage’s voice. It is incredibly rustic for the most part but undeniably dynamic, and harmonises with Art Theefe’s classic rock sound, whilst also polishing the tracks off with a contemporary finish – this works well and shows how the trio have revamped the classic rock genre, stripped it back, and reworked it with a modern spin. This is most evident in ‘Golden Switch’, which adds to this by incorporating a striking guitar riff.
After listening to – probably my favourite track – ‘I Have Named You The Queen’, I have to admit there is something very embellishing about lying on your floor and listening to the lyrics, “But you are the queen” swirl around you. It’s the difference I notice when music comes out at you, or to you – the difference between being talked at, and spoken to.
Art Theefe very much speaks to you throughout Dig Deep – the album’s soul-searching motif is very apparent, and their journey to self-resolution makes for a thouroughly enjoyable and compelling listen.
For further information about Art Theefe and their latest album visit www.art-theefe.com
Nightshift Magazine, February 2018
I Trained a Spy’
Art Theefe singer Matt Sage posted on Facebook
a few months ago that he’d discovered and fallen
in love with Mark Lanegan – something any
sane human being should do. Good news then
and it shows with this latest single in the lead up
to the band’s full debut album in the summer.
Matt’s voice has developed a smoky layer of dirt
to it that makes him sound like a once-smooth
lounge singer who’s had too many nights on the
complimentary wine, with a real growl about
it at times, while behind him the guitars have
taken on a darker, more doleful vibe, a bit of late
night surf shimmer and gothic country rock. It
suits the grainy video set in what looks like the
final last chance all-night bar in town. It’s quite
a departure from what we’ve heard of the band
so far and it’s something we could get rather
comfortable with as we sit here on this bar stool
at 4 in the morning savouring the dregs of that
third bottle of Rioja."
AnR Music Review, Nov 17
Anyone described as “seriously gorgeous sounds” by such as a songwriter as The Waterboys head honcho Mike Scott has to be someone you need to check out. When you do you will see that he has a valid point.
Art Theefe blends so many classic sounds but does so deftly and delicately that gorgeous is certainly the word for it. As the band themselves have always pointed out good artists copy, great artists steal, I guess the clue is in the name! But even though you can see what is under the musical hood, they still fashion a musical vehicle that is unique and a brilliant sonic ride.
A dash of Kink’s kitchen sink drama and wry, quintessentially English humour, a touch of classic singer songwriter such as Dylan and the aforementioned Mr Scott, a smooth Steely Dan vibe and even some Van Morrison Celtic rock mystique and you have a fantastic slice of power-pop, slightly Paisley psych and bluesy-rock all rolled into one. And as much as you can detect these hints of the past it feels nothing less than the way forward.