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in the spotlight Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet | PHOTO BY MATTHEW SWEET

Matthew Sweet | PHOTO BY MATTHEW SWEET

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Updated: September 2, 2014 6:13AM



Fans of finely tuned power-pop rejoice when Matthew Sweet comes around. After gaining national attention with his breakthrough third album “Girlfriend” in 1991, Sweet earned the luxury of charting his own course. Sweet’s knack for crafty confections remained in evidence when he released “Sick of Myself,” a beautiful slice of self-loathing from 1995’s “100% Fun” album and a #2 Modern Rock hit.

Sweet indulged a penchant for Anglophilia in Ming Tea with comedian Mike Myers and The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs. The group recorded the cheeky “BBC” for the soundtrack to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. The semi-band recorded “Daddy Wasn’t There” for sequel Austin Powers in Goldmember.

In 2003, Sweet stepped sideways into shimmering California folk-rock with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins as supergroup The Thorns. The band’s self-titled album included the glorious heartache of “No Blue Sky,” drew upon key influences including Crosby, Stills and Nash for “Dragonfly,” and made a cover of the Jayhawks’ signature tune “Blue” their own.

Sweet and Hoffs continue to collaborate. Their “Under the Covers, Vol. 3” collection was released last November, featuring 80s classics like The English Beat’s “Save it For Later,” The Go-Gos’ “Our Lips are Sealed” and Kristy MacColl’s “They Don’t Know” (a hit for Tracey Ullman in 1983).

“Modern Art,” Sweet’s eleventh studio album, arrived in 2011. Despite flying below the radar, the album was praised by fans and critics. The album coalesced all of Sweet’s best-known alliterative influences, including Big Star, The Byrds, Beatles, and Beach Boys. The set boasts chiming introspection on “She Walks the Night,” the propulsive psychedelia of “Ivory Tower,” and the surprisingly soulful “Oh, Oldendaze.”

In tandem with his current touring activity, Sweet recently secured crowd-funding for a new studio album. Incentives ranged from demo recordings to bronze sculptures of cats. If you didn’t shell out for the house concert, Sweet’s final tour date at SPACE in Evanston is a more affordable option.

♦ Matthew Sweet, with J. A. Cohen, 8:00 p.m. Aug. 2, SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston, Tickets $25 – $65. (847) 492-8860; evanstonspace.com. SPOTIFY playlist selected by Jeffrey Kotthoff of Lo-Fidelity Records: http://tinyurl.com/SweetSPOTIFY



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