October is Local Music Month, KXT’s celebration of the sounds reverberating throughout North Texas! Each day, we will highlight different local artists you can hear on KXT. Check back here, find us on our social media or tune in to 91.7 FM to see the day’s featured artist.
Matthew McNeal grew up in East Texas, but he got to North Texas as fast as he could. Ever since, he and his longtime musical companion, Andre Black, have been banging the drum on all-things Fort Worth music. Together, they have become some of the most ardent voices for the western cut of D-FW.
McNeal and Black have dialed in to the essence of modern Fort Worth music along the way – a sound that defies trite stereotypes of the city while fitting comfortably under the wide umbrella of indie-rock.
Beyond performing under McNeal’s name, the duo runs Matte Black Sound Company, an independent record company behind the work of other buzzworthy North Texas artists like Harry Zimm and Ghost Cloak. The label also allows them to help amplify the sounds of Panther City by collaborating with organizations like Hear Fort Worth, an initiative to strengthen and support the local music community.
Across his four full-length studio albums released so far, you’ll hear glimmers of the music that influenced McNeal growing up: a childhood spent in country-rich East Texas, the soulful music his mother raised him on, his cowboy father’s love for rock & roll, and even remnants of his days as a teenager looking to escape through playing in pop-punk bands.
You’ll also hear cyclical themes of love, loss, and a constantly evolving relationship with grief.
The loss of his father, Michael, inspired much of the Fort Worth artist’s 2020 LP, Good Grief. Now, he finds himself working through another wave of grief. At the tail-end of last year, and just two weeks before he and his band were set to get back in the studio to work on new music, McNeal unexpectedly lost his stepfather, Chuck.
His forthcoming EP, which KXT is honored to announce, will be the first music he has released since Chuck’s passing. Titled Love Was, it’s a snapshot of McNeal’s whirlwind of emotions in their rawest form following yet another loss. The EP unfolds through four sequential songs as a fragile yet warm eulogy of the bittersweet love that often still aches to be given to a loved one lost.
“What we ended up capturing was a really unique and singular experience because of how raw it was for me,” McNeal says about the recording process of Love Was. “And what a safe space, to be able to do it all surrounded by some of my closest friends [in the studio.]”
But despite the suffocating new forms that grief can take on, McNeal once again guides us through the journey with an air of comfort.
“I’m gonna heal more by staring my emotions in the face rather than suppressing them,” he says. “Even though we were working on something so vulnerable, it was really cathartic.”
The timing of the EP’s release is by no mistake, as McNeal has become familiar – for better or worse – with the lonely moments that seem to collect like old wounds at the cold end of the year. Rather than feeling like an onslaught of exhaustive sadness, though, Love Was settles more like the soft release after a much-needed cry.
“It’s a lot of emotion to struggle with,” he says. “I wanted this to be reflective of that, but also wanted it to connect with someone who needs it.”
Love Was will be available to stream everywhere on November 3, but if you’re lucky enough, you might get to hear some of it at McNeal’s next show supporting Emily Wolfe on October 20 at Tulips in Fort Worth.
You can hear even more local music at noon Mon-Fri on Local Bites and on the KXT Local Show on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. If you’re an artist from North Texas, you can submit your music to KXT for consideration right here.
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