Matt Jaffe hits his stride with Undertoad – picking up where David Bowie left off

Matt Jaffe has hit his stride with  his latest album, Undertoad.  I have been following Jaffe since he was 14 and playing hugely good guitar at a house concert series in Northern California and have been waiting for this album since then.  At the age of 16 he was discovered by  Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads and together  they produced his first album.  Seven good albums later, Undertoad has positioned him for the very big time. With 7 sophisticated songs that transcend  the boundaries of rock and create an urgent universe of their own.

 Undertoad opens with  “Broken Flowers” ,  a song that makes you sway, cry,  and think as its hypnotic guitar and his high-pitched but perfectly modulated voice carry you into a Leonard Cohen-like cinematic world, but with a rock beat.  Keeping up the energy in “Punch Drunk Love” Jaffe moves the pitch even higher, while staying smooth and addictive as he spins out a tale we all know. He stays in the deep emotional narrative mode with “Beacon in the Night”, using his unparallel songwriting, world-class guitar skills, and most urgent voice to hold you spiritually while you rock out to the notes. 

Slowing down and getting lighter, “Early Winner” tells a romance story – or is it — as he introduces you to a girl in a softly freezing winter.   He gets serious and yet magical at the same time  in “Strangers Again” – moving well into hard rock land with snarling  guitar walls, but always the lyrics take center stage. He then lets you come down in “Streets of Gold”, keeping a gentle electricity flowing through his guitar and your head. 

The album wraps with the hypnotic “Time Traveler”, released earlier as a single, and the song that for many, establishes Jaffe,  not as a latter day David Bowie, but as the  21st century artist who is picking up where Bowie left off.  Stunning, hypnotic, lovely and bloody sharp.

Undertoad, released 2021,  is available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music and on

About Patrick O'Heffernan

Patrick O’Heffernan is co-host of the LA-based, nationally syndicated weekly program, Music FridayLive! and is a music reviewer for online magazines Vents, The Hollywood Progressive and MusicJunkie. He has also co-hosted a national political talk show, The Fairness Doctrine, and hosted the “Uplinks” media segment on Saturday All Things Considered on NPR. He holds a PhD in International Relations from MIT, has been awarded an Emmy, four Addy’s, and a Webby-Honors, among other awards. He has published 5 books and ghost-written others. A project he co-launched, the North Asia Nuclear Free Zone, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He serves on the Board of Netroots Nation.

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