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Matt Marque

Young Chicago-based singer-songwriter Matt Marque clearly doesn't like to be pinned down. His idiosyncratic electro-folk-pop is simply impossible to categorize, borrowing as it does from a variety of styles, aesthetics, and overall approaches to music-making. Yet he's not a genre-riffer like so many other up-and-coming young musicians; each quirky, intimate piece is unquestionably a "Matt Marque song."

That sense of distinctiveness starts with Marque's watery vocal style, the coarse, high off-key croon of a sleepy, half-drugged friend delivering made-up nonsense verses in your ear. His songs' instrumentation, while consistently varied and surprising, never seeks to be bombastic or funky or stripped-down minimal. They're subtler than that, generally effecting a weird, mellow, miasmic swirl.

Marque's songs go so many places: the lo-fi fuzz of early Sebadoh, the sample-happy bedroom pop of people like The Busy Signals, the off-kilter, surreal folk-pop of a Freedy Johnston, the stark, damaged experimental country of Sparklehorse, the indie rock real folk blues of Beck's One Foot in the Grave album. Not that you'll be thinking about any of those people, because you'll be mesmerized by Marque's half-whispered, cracked vignettes and the odd sounds fluttering about them.

For his first LP, Get There, Marque enlisted a number of ubiquitous Chicago musicians to help him create those odd sounds. They include guitarist Michael Krassner (The Boxhead Ensemble, The Lofty Pillars), cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (Terminal 4), and drummer Glenn Kotche (Wilco), among others. The fine album appeared on Truckstop during the summer of 2001.