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After spending the '80s as a jangle pop guitarist with Oh-OK and Lloyd Cole, as well as a solo artist, Matthew Sweet emerged in 1991 as the leading figure of the American power pop revival. Like his British counterparts Teenage Fanclub, Sweet adhered to traditional songcraft, yet subverted the form by adding noisy post-punk guitar and flourishes of country-rock, resulting in an amalgam of the Beatles, Big Star, R.E.M., and Neil Young. Recorded with guitarists Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine, Sweet's third album, Girlfriend (1991), became a word-of-mouth critical and commercial hit over the course of 1992, with its title track reaching the Top Five on the Modern Rock charts. For the next five years, as alternative rock was the dominant commercial force in rock & roll, Sweet became a very popular concert attraction and solidified his reputation as the premiere alternative pop singer/songwriter. His next two records, Altered Beast (1993) and 100% Fun (1995) were both critically acclaimed and successful albums, reaching platinum status and making many year-end best-of lists.
Matthew Sweet began playing music while he was a high-school student in his native Lincoln, NE. Upon his graduation in 1983, he decided to attend the University of Georgia in Athens because of its burgeoning underground music scene. Once he arrived at college, he met Lynda Stipe and joined her band, Oh-OK, in time to play on their second EP, the Mitch Easter-produced Furthermore What, which was released late in 1983. The following year, he and Oh-OK drummer David Pierce formed Buzz of Delight, releasing Sound Castles later that year. Over the course of 1984 and 1985, Sweet cut a demo tape with producer Don Dixon. Columbia Records heard the Buzz of Delight record and the demo and offered him a contract in 1985. Upon signing with Columbia, he relocated to New York and recorded his debut, Inside. Released in 1986, Inside featured Sweet playing nearly all of the instruments on the record, supported by a drum machine; the album also featured several cameos, including Chris Stamey, Fred Maher, Anton Fier, and Aimee Mann. That same year, Sweet guested on Blast of Silence, an album by Fier's band, the Golden Palominos.
During 1988, Sweet signed with A&M Records and recorded his second album, Earth. Produced by Fred Maher (Scritti Politti) and released in 1989, Earth again featured Sweet as a one-man band, augmented by guitarists Robert Quine (Lou Reed, Richard Hell) and Richard Lloyd (Television). Girlfriend, an album largely inspired by the dissolution of his marriage, was the first album Sweet recorded with a live band, and its sound -- which was powered by Lloyd and Quine -- was considerably more immediate and raw than its predecessors. Girlfriend earned strong reviews and "Divine Intervention" received good radio exposure, but it wasn't until the spring of 1992, when the title track exploded on the radio, that the album became a genuine hit. By the end of the year, Girlfriend had gone gold and was later certified platinum.
Sweet recorded the follow-up to Girlfriend with producer Richard Dashut, who had previously been best known for his work with Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham. Again featuring Quine and Lloyd, the resulting Altered Beast was subversive compared to Girlfriend and considered by many critics and fans alike to be a favorite. The album became a sizable college radio hit on the strength of the modern rock and MTV hits "The Ugly Truth" and "Time Capsule." Sweet recorded his fifth album, this time with producer Brendan O'Brien, who had previously worked with Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. Released in the spring of 1995, 100% Fun received Sweet's strongest reviews to date and went gold then platinum on the strength of the Top 5 radio hit "Sick of Myself”.
Following 100% Fun, Sweet retained O'Brien for 1997's Blue Sky on Mars. In Reverse followed in 1999, and the best-of collection Time Capsule arrived a year later. Hip-O released To Understand: The Early Recordings of Matthew Sweet in 2002, a collection that Sweet followed up with the Japanese-only release Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu. He returned to the domestic studio in 2004 for Living Things, followed by a collection of choice covers from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s with Bangles member Susanna Hoffs for Under the Covers, Vol. 1 – 3.
In 2008, Sweet put out his tenth studio album, Sunshine Lies, which he termed as "power-pop-folk-rock-psychedelic-melodic-singer-songwriter-type stuff”. By turns achingly melodic and startlingly visceral, Sunshine Lies swirls with poetic emotion and stark attitude, bringing neatly into play the entire gamut of Sweet's stylistic experience. Released in 2011, Modern Art features 12 new compositions of Sweet's trademark wistful, yearning pop that recall some of Sweet s touchstones: the Beatles, Beach Boys and Big Star. ''She Walks the Night'' is reminiscent of early period Byrds, while ''Ladyfingers'' stomps along with the authority of T. Rex.
Sweet wrote and recorded (and sang and performed guitar on) a Journey parody song for an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer forms an ill fated garage band.
Known for his knowledge and extensive collection of Margaret Keane paintings, Sweet was hired as a consultant on the 2014 Tim Burton film “Big Eyes". Many of the Margaret Keane paintings in the film are from Matthew’s collection.
Sweet recently completed his new album Forever Tomorrow, recorded at his new studio – Black Squirrel Submarine - in Omaha where he now lives. Matthew engineered, performed on guitars, keyboards, bass and god knows what else, sang lead and background vocals and mixed the recordings. The record was mastered for CD, vinyl and download at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London by Sean Magee, a long time veteran at the studio. Sean won a Grammy for his Beatles reissues, and has recently won accolades for his remastering of the John Lennon solo catalog reissues. The record will be released on June 16, 2017 on Sweet’s label - Honeycomb Hideout – with label support and distribution provided by Sony/ RED Distribution, LLC.