The Best of Nashville issue of the Scene just came out. I’m skimming through it, bored by all the self-important hipper-than-thou writing when I spot one they definitely got right:
Best Scandinavian Frontman: Ville Kiviniemi, The Mattoid
Far too often, Nashville’s breakout bands are defined by country—either by embracing it or shunning it outright. And while our hip-hop scene is currently flourishing, it too is defined by what degree its artists accept or expel the influence of established Dirty South styles. So when a sui-generis genre-blender like The Mattoid comes along, it’s utter joy for fans of music. Other than Chris Crofton on his good nights, there is no local frontman who brings together chaos and composition in such a way as Ville Kiviniemi, whose throat singing and take-no-prisoners approach to covers have made him and his band the most consistently entertaining and confident performers out there on a weekly basis. There is nothing else like The Mattoid, and their uniquity reaches beyond the usual span of Nashville’s bands. —JASON SHAWHAN
Hey baby, don’t tell me: I’ve been a fan of Ville’s for years. Karsten and I first saw The Mattoid at a Bluebird Cafe open mic night (back when we still subjected ourselves to that) and when Ville and his sidekick stepped up to the stage, no one needed to “shhh” anyone — the shock was enough to quiet the room. His two songs were “Happiness” and “Funeral Party,” if I remember correctly, and the elderly man in the front row wearing a straw cowboy hat barely closed his gaping mouth once during the set. When they finished, the prescribed silence of the Bluebird felt even quieter for the lack of genuine applause coming from anyone other than Karsten and me, and everyone around us was looking at us like we were insane. They seemed to be wondering, “Did we just watch the same thing?” It was classic performance art.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen Ville perform a few more times, and his schtick gets funnier to us each time but the truth is, it would all be nothing if his music weren’t rockin’. He’s a solid musician, he’s deft with lyrics, his melodies are just the right shade of infectious, and the humor in it all is dark enough that you don’t feel like you’re listening to anything that tries as hard as, say, They Might Be Giants.
Want to hear him? Try his MySpace page.
Congratulations, Ville. Now don’t go leaving us.