Hands Down Eugene
''Champion''
by Hands Down Eugene from the CD ''Madison''

November 6, 2007

With relaxed rhythms and Beatles-esque melodies, Hands Down Eugene has been finding a lot of fans in the Nashville area. The band is a collection of artists (including members of Ben Folds and My Morning Jacket) lead by Matt Moody, who recently moved from Missouri to Nashville. Hands Down Eugene's album, Madison combines alt country and indie rock's strongest qualities. "Denise" begins the album with noisy, fuzz guitars and tasteful rock riffs. Great backing vocals and feedback fill out the sound. "Miss Madison" is dynamic piano piece with infectious hand claps, standard on any catchy pop tune. The track "Full Blast" features uplifting group vocals and impressive guitar work. Hands Down Eugene produced the album with Jeremy Ferguson from BattleTapes took about ten months. BattleTapes Recording has worked with some of Nashville'artists, including Forget Cassettes, De Novo Dahl, and The Carter Administration.

click here to see review on nprmusic.com

RECORDED REVIEWS

CD OF THE MONTH--December 2006

Hands Down Eugene — Madison

Recorded, mixed and edited by Jeremy Ferguson and Matt Moody at Battle Tapes Recording in Nashville, TN
Produced by Jeremy Ferguson, Matt Moody
and Hands Down Eugene
Mastered by Jim Demain at Yes Master in Nashville, TN

It's possible that the new Nashville sound personified by this band -- still a little bit country, but a lot more rock 'n' roll -- might have been a motivating factor for the sound of The Raconteurs. In fact, Madison is very reminiscent of The Raconteurs' sound, which, as with Hands Down Eugene, sounds heavily influenced by both country artists of long ago and stoner/psychedelic rock bands like Pink Floyd.

All the longing and loneliness that remind most people of when country music was actually good are present on this record, complete with heartbreaking guitar solos, which have been absent from all genres of music for way too long.

The album's lyrics are what one would expect from a band that has seen its share of bars and small towns while working hard to play music for anyone who'll listen. And with this album's unique sound, it is assured that people are going to listen. The band has already caught the ear of other famous musicians including Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket, Nathan Vasquez of Be Your Own PET and Jared Reynolds of Ben Folds, all of whom make appearances on Madison.

It's easy to picture these songs droning out of a jukebox in any bar south of the Mason-Dixon line that's decorated with neon signs and a pool table. But to dismiss the sound of this band as just alt-country would be way too simplistic. As the album opens with a fuzzy female voice declaring "These are events in a dream," the mood is set for a psychedelic record that rolls along at a steady pace.

Although the album showcases over 20 different musicians, the stylistic and beautiful lyrics by singer/songwriter Matt Moody give the album a clear focus - the listener feels like a voyeur in a way, listening to events in a dream that are all too real. As Moody sings in "Denise," "I'm not one to be honest," he reveals a fragile framework of sifting ideas, when even the narrator admits that he may not be the best person to be trusted. But as the songs continue to describe lost loves and failures in life, as all the great country songs used to do, it is evident that Moody's inherent honesty may not be something he can escape - even when he's performing his heart out for anyone who'll hear him sing. (XOXO Records)

click here to see review on performermag.com

Hands Down Eugene
Madison
(XOXO)
US release date: 19 March 2007
UK release date: 12 March 2007

By Dan Raper

Hands Down Eugene, the project of singer-songwriter Matt Moody, offers something new crafted out of decidedly old parts. Think of the psychedelic bits of the Beatles and you’re halfway there—“doo doo” choruses, layered vocal harmonies, and totally familiar classic rock chord progressions. But there are 27 musicians credited with playing on their album Madison—a collective attitude that manifests more in terms of breadth of sound than volume. The best of these mostly mid-tempo alt-country tunes inject moments of dissonance to their classic pop vocabulary to remind the listener there’s something more desperate going on. A string of three songs in the middle of the record are particularly on point: “If It’s Up to Me”, with its “ooh-la-la” backing vocals buried in the mix; “Ticket Girl”’s classic 1-5-1 construction overlaid with Beach Boys harmonies; and “Barry Short for Governor” with its more difficult, swirling electronic dissonances. The injection of small musical jokes and spoken word introductions (once in German) throughout give Madison a self-deprecating impression, but it’s the strung-out phrases, resolving just the way you expect but still somehow powerful, that make Hands Down Eugene’s music interesting.

— 27 August 2007

click here to see review on popmatters.com

Hands Down Eugene's White Stone and Black Witch Release Party March 13
By D. Patrick Rodgers in Cream Calendar
Mon., Mar. 9 2009 @ 11:45AM

I still think "Hands Down Your Jeans" is funny.
I'll tell you what goes together better than Kings of Leon and rollerblading, and that's Hands Down Eugene and being ballers. The quintessential East Siders have finally gotten around to putting out their EPs White Stone and Black Witch on vinyl, and they're doing so this Friday (the 13th) at a release party at The 5 Spot with D. Striker. According to Hands Down's people, "the finished results were pared down from '1,346 potential songs recorded on a four-day peyote binge in the frozen jungles of Greater China' and '453 potential songs recorded on a six-day giraffe execution in the swampy deserts of Mid-North Canada' respectively." I like the sound of that. Here's a snippet from the Critic's Pick I wrote for our forthcoming issue:

...Hands Down Eugene are taking advantage of their gig with fellow East Nashville institution D. Striker--the celebrated jester of traditional country who only appears every Friday the 13th--to release their long-awaited EPs White Stone and Black Witch on vinyl. Hands Down Eugene's frontman--gaunt, heavily bearded wizard of the East Matt Moody--might look a bit like a grizzled metal hesher, but his songs are all whip-smart and introspective psychedelic pop numbers delivered with a surprisingly clear tenor. Injected with a sluggish Southern drawl, White Stone and Black Witch's production occasionally bristle with brash, bombastic flourishes and moments of monumental poignancy. As if that wasn't enough, they're remarkably tight live, too.

That's the second time I've quoted myself in as many weeks. Too meta for my own good. In case you never caught it, Hands Down, D. Striker and their fellow members of the Trey Deuce Club were featured in last October's issue of No Depression. Here's a picture by Thomas Petillo.

click here to see review on nashvillescene.com

—the gaunt, heavily bearded wizard of the East Matt Moody —might look a bit like a grizzled metal hesher, but his songs are all whip-smart and introspective psychedelic pop numbers delivered with a surprisingly clear tenor.
Think of the psychedelic bits of
the Beatles and you’re halfway there—“doo doo” choruses, layered vocal harmonies,
and totally familiar
classic rock chord progressions.
. . . complete with heartbreaking guitar solos, which have been absent from all genres of music for way too long.
With relaxed rhythms and
Beatles-esque melodies,
Hands Down Eugene has been finding
a lot of fans in
the Nashville area.
With them,
nearly nothing is what it seems, or what you’d expect,
or what should have been. Their music is full of key changes, tempo shifts and lyrical surprises that keep listeners on their toes.
Hands Down Eugene
By Kat Amano
Photo by Rebecca Gillespie

It would be an empty room, if not for all the gear and the beer, the eyeglasses and beards. It’s a living room without furniture, just wood-paneled walls and neutral, beige carpeting, and it serves as the practice space for Hands Down Eugene, the up-and-coming Nashville band with XOXO Records.

HDE is one-half thick-rimmed glasses and one-half impressive facial hair. They hadn’t noticed it until now, and they’re startled by the revelation. But for a band that’s full of surprises, it’s charming to see that they even surprise themselves.

Years ago, Matt Moody met Eugene the cat, and he was warned that he’d get clawed. Eugene detested everyone, but took a liking to Moody — so Moody took its name, and Hands Down Eugene was born. He later sent a MySpace message to Jason Smalls of XOXO Records, who usually rejects e-submissions. Smalls prefers press kits via snail mail, but Moody’s beard was too intriguing; he clicked and liked what he heard.

Such a series of unlikely events and surprising outcomes has become a staple for HDE. With them, nearly nothing is what it seems, or what you’d expect, or what should have been. Their music is full of key changes, tempo shifts and lyrical surprises that keep listeners on their toes. And the men of HDE, as people, unfold with just as many turns.

Moody, 33, is a tall man with a long, dark beard, and he looks like he’d be the frontman of a rougher garage band. But his voice is higher, his lyrics more thoughtful and his fingers more graceful on his bass guitar than one would likely anticipate. He started the band six years ago when he still lived in Missouri, and re-location to Nashville meant more musical contacts. He played with Nashville’s alt-soul rockers Ole Mossy Face and there met Andy Willhite, another early member of the young HDE. “That Andy will show you a good time,” said Smalls, who co-owns XOXO Records with his fiancée, Jane, in New Jersey. “We’ve come down to Tennessee twice just to hang out with them. Andy is crazy, and I love it.”

Willhite is the most talkative one, and he looks like the quirky science teacher everybody loves — complete with the easy chuckle, the thick-rimmed glasses and the thin, tousled hair. But onstage, he is suddenly, and unexpectedly, more withdrawn, leaving the quips to keys player Todd Kemp.

Kemp came on board as a friend of Willhite, as they both play in another band, The Carter Administration. At 30, Kemp teaches music theory, but, with his big grin, nerd-chic glasses and immaculate posture, he still looks the part of the student. Though known for always being late, he showed up early — really early — to their show on January 12 at East Nashville’s Family Wash.

Once onstage, Kemp often took over the mic between songs, even debating Guns ‘N’ Roses vs. The Rolling Stones with a laugh. “If you put Appetite for Destruction in a fight with Sticky Fingers,” he said, adjusting the bench at his keyboards, “Sticky Fingers would cease to exist. It would be a black fucking hole.”

That night, they played equal doses of songs from Madison, HDE’s full-length debut (named “CD of the Month” in the December issue of Performer), and tracks off their next record, which, according to drummer Matt Martin, will probably be released by the end of the year.

Martin is the quiet one with the long red beard, the one who sits in the back and smiles graciously at others’ jokes. But onstage, he comes alive, bouncing with such energy that it seems there are springs in his seat. Almost like a marionette, his drumming comes from his shoulders and elbows, thrusting the whole power of his arm into each strike of the snare. Martin’s first lessons came from playing along with Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, and now, at 30 years old, he brings enough force to his kit to make Bonzo proud.
Looking ahead, the band plans to tour this spring and maybe during the summer.

click here to see review on performermag.com

HDE is one-half
thick-rimmed
glasses and
one-half
impressive
facial hair.
Popshifter’s Best Of Lists

Posted in Best Of Lists, Books,
Current Faves, Films, Music, Retrovirus,
Television, Top Five Lists, Top Ten Lists |

Music: Best Of 2008

By Adam McIntyre

Hands Down Eugene, White Stone/Black Witch: Good lord, did I play this record a lot. When I was a kid, I’d invite a friend over to listen to a record with me, and things like that really don’t happen now that I’m a grown-up; if I’m listening to music, it’s because I’m in the car with my kid or on the road in the van with my band. However, I invited people over specifically to listen to this with me. 2008 was largely enjoyed with this album turned up loud enough to reveal every sound, with a couple friends and me occasionally saying either “wow” or “woooow” . . . or giggling. I’m glad I knew these boys in Nashville because I never would have heard of this album otherwise. Released for free on the Internet in June, White Stone/Black Witch sounds like a lost landmark album from 1972 without trying to be retro. It’s rootsy, psychedelic indie rock that’s just plain enjoyable to a guy who likes interesting arrangements, solid lyrics, and breathtaking chord changes.

click here to see review on popshifter.com

It’s rootsy, psychedelic
indie rock that’s
just plain enjoyable to a guy who
likes interesting arrangements,
solid lyrics, and breathtaking chord changes.
Monday, January 29, 2007

Hands Down Eugene - Madison (XOXO Records)

Aside from being one of the best live bands in music, the members of My Morning Jacket have had a busy year. Their membership in Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminal Starvation League got the most attention but this side project with members of Ben Folds' band is sadly overlooked. Midtempo americana fused with ELO synths, Built to Spill, Swearing at Motorists, The Band, Wilco, early REM, George Harrison and White Album-era Beatles. Making it look this easy, they can afford to quit their day jobs. - mark

click here to see review on 75orless.com

Making it look
this easy, they can afford to quit
their day jobs.
Hands Down Eugene – “Madison"

June 25, 2007

Every town needs a band like this one, a group that impresses every other local band in town. For Nashville, TN that current band is Hands Down Eugene. Arriving in late 2006, Hands Down Eugene picked up some praise in the local press, and admiration from bands all around in a town that is exploding with indie rock goodness. Hands Down Eugene came together just a few years ago, after principal songwriter Matt Moody came into town from the Midwest and started hanging out with the local rock pedagogues. They recorded for almost ten months with Battle Tapes Recording, a home studio that has catered to all of Nashville’s best emerging artists, such as Forget Cassettes, De Novo Dahl, and The Carter Administration.

What emerges is a cross of Built to Spill and Wilco, with some ’70s fuzz thrown in. The song “Full Blast” captures all that Nashville should be in the public’s eye-an easygoing bar song with floating guitar riffs, shakers, and good vocal harmony. “Ticket Girl” transitions to an upbeat segment of handclaps and sweet keys, as an ode to the girl selling tickets to a show. The following song, “Barry Short for Governor” is the climax for the album. Sound bites and drum loops lead in to a electric solo guitar excursion, but then quickly fades to a mellow folksy ballad and then finishes with a similar haze of synths and electronics gone bad. This song serves as a transition into the quieter, more alt-country portion of Madison, just to make sure they would be respected by everyone.

Madison is an excellent debut, full of the elements that makes indie rock and alt-country necessary to our being.
[By: Josh Spilker]

Rating: 5/5
Release Date: March 19, 2007

click here to see review on wonkavisionmagazine.com

Hands Down Eugene picked up some praise in the
local press, and admiration from bands all around
in a town that is exploding with indie rock goodness.
Hands Down Eugene
Madison"
XOXO Records

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hands Down Eugene, the massive, sprawling, Southern psychedelic ensemble assembled by local musician and songwriter Matt Moody (otherwise known as "that tall, lanky bald dude with the beard who plays bass with Ole Mossy Face", have somehow managed to wrangle all their conflicting time schedules together long enough to make a full-length record. For that alone they should be applauded.

But Madison (released nationally of New Jersey's XOXO Records) shows Hands Down Eugene to be more than just a successfully executed side project. Flashes of The Band, The Beatles, Built to Spill and the Flaming Lips all show up on Madison, revealing Moody's music to be deeply influenced by 60's experimental pop but obviously springing from the modern indie/post-punk landscape.

Like the music made by the various members of the Elephant 6 collective, Madison sounds like a group of friends (which on this album included members of The Carter Administration, Apollo Upl, My Morning Jacket, Ben Folds' band and The Bubblegum Complex) just having fun in the studio, using the songs as excuses for psych-pop experimentation.

Still, Moody's songs definitely hold up under the weight of all the ornamentation. Kudos should also go to producer Jeremy Ferguson of Battle Tapes for deftly juggling the sonic jumble into a cohesive and extremely enjoyable album that should make anyone who misses the days when Mercury Rev were redefining acid rock ready to take a trip to Madison.
. . . revealing Moody's music to be deeply influenced by 60's experimental pop but obviously springing from
the modern indie/post-punk landscape.
CRITICS PICKS

HANDS DOWN EUGENE

When Matt Moody isn't holding down the low end with local band Ole Mossy Face, he's the driving force behind Hands Down Eugene. Their new Full Blast EP is a nice dollop of low-key psyche-pop ramble, sounding like outtakes from The White Album if it had been recorded in Nashville. The mixes are dense with swirling guitars, backwards loops and trippy vocal washes, but the melodies naver get lost in the muddle. The prevailing mood is dreamy, thought that's not to say the proceedings don't rock: the title cut and "Read and Disadvantaged" have an authentic quality, the latter rendering its delightfully obtuse lyric as if it were self-evident.

—Jack Silverman

“. . . a nice dollop of low-key psyche-pop ramble, sounding like outtakes from The White Album if it had been recorded in Nashville
LOCAL BANDS
helping HANDS

EAST NASHVILLE BAND HANDS DOWN EUGENE
IS PUTTING MUSIC CITY ON THE INDIE MAP

June, 2007

THESE DAYS THERE'S a lot of chatter around town about the "East Nashville Sound." East Nashville's affordable housing and eclectic feel have attracted lots of musicians, and respected artists such as Todd Snider and Elizabeth Cook currently call the neighborhood home. The rambling collective Hands Down Eugene are the latest eastside band to be getting some much-deserved attention.

Generally speaking, music from East Nashville is less labored-over and more freewheeling than that of its neighbors across town—both Snider and Cook, for example, have earned large followings with their mix of traditional sounds and punk enthusiasm. Hands Down Eugene's latest recording for XOXO Records, Madison, is similarly rowdy and diverse. From American blues and soul to British psychedelia, it borrows from the best yet remains rooted in the happy-go-lucky world across the Cumberland.

Hands Down Eugene features a rotating cast of musicians. A mainstay, though, is principal songwriter, bassist and frontman Matt Moody, who's easily recognizable by his foot-long beard. Moody runs the show as a loving, bemused taskmaster who's never quite sure what the guys behind him are up to. That said, HDE's arrangements are tight and neatly orchestrated, leaving room for improvisation and the occasional verbal jab. Imagine The Band, but with a sense of humor.

Song's like "Full Blast" and "Slow Down," for example, are mid-tempo rave-ups with meandering guitars and earnest harmonies. A kind of slacker aesthetic pervades Madison, which is especially noticeable on the record's more downcast songs. "Champion" and "Built for Speed," for instance, conjure images of a band likely to skip their day jobs and opt for Pabst Blue Ribbon at the Alley Cat instead.

Apparently, HDE's lack of hustle is paying off. One area paper picked Madison as the best local release of 2006; likewise, the record was selected as CD of the month in the December 2006 issue of Southeast Performer. And with HDE's touring schedule filling up, it's likely that their vision of a hasy life east of the Cumberland will spread at least as fas as, say, Louisville.

—Paul V. Griffith

From American blues and soul
to British psychedelia, it borrows from the best yet remains rooted in the
happy-go-lucky
world across the Cumberland.

BEST LOCAL RELEASE:

Hands Down Eugene, Madison

Hands Down Eugene's Madison opens with a woman's voice stating plainly, "These are events in a dream." That is followed by the buzz of distortion, then, suddenly, a pretty harmony and lackadaisical winding rhythm. Many things about this record from Matt Moody and company feel dreamy—ethereal, layered (what do you expect from a band with 8 million members?) and "Miss Madison" or "Full Blast," a rich tapestry of guitars and late-afternoon malaise that is one of the best tracks released by any Nashville band this year—The Raconteurs included . . .

—Lee Stabert

a rich tapestry of guitars and late-afternoon malaise that is one of the best tracks released by any Nashville band this year
who is hands down eugene? | tracks | live gigs | talk | look | wear | contact | home
who is hands down eugene? | tracks | live gigs | talk | look | wear | contact | home