Duet For Guitars #2, Indie Exclusive, 180G Colored Vinyl LP
Venerable rock critic Robert Christgau's strategy for appraising boxed sets and other retrospectives has always been a sensible one: Start with the end first and work your way backward. The thought is that acts generally don't get better over the course of their career, they get worse, so if the newer stuff tacked on at the end is as good as the older stuff, you're golden.
It's not as simple with indie acts, though. Often the newer stuff is the music people hear first and like most, and the older material is the music people have to later seek out. Yes, there will always be fans that insist the new stuff pales in comparison to the old stuff, but when all it takes is a cheap recorder to document your songs forever, sometimes a little more experience (in life and the studio alike) leads to bigger and better things.
So it's been with Matt Ward, whose artistic and commercial ascent has been consistently upward, and whose musical evolution has largely coincided with his recording budget. Long before he signed to Merge and recorded Transfiguration of Vincent, Transistor Radio, and Post-War, and well before he landed tour slots with pal Norah Jones, M. Ward was just another quiet and modest singer-songwriter aspirant. -Pitchfork