Having been born and bred in the heartland of America (Kansas, to be exact), the appropriately monikered Major Matt Mason USA (aka Matt Roth) nonetheless bears few similarities to the "heartland rockers" associated with the region he calls home. Taking his name from a popular 1950s Mattel action figure, he relocated to New York City in 1993 after a college career spent with various math rock, post-punk, and noise rock combos, remaking himself as a master of modern urban folk and earning high marks for his clever and insightful songwriting. In 1999, drawing on the inspiration of Daniel Johnston's D.I.Y. approach for recording and releasing albums, Mason founded Olive Juice Records and began to produce albums by obscure anti-folk artists from New York City's Lower East Side. His debut, 2000's Me Me Me, earns high marks for his unique songwriting and gift for acoustic songcraft, drawing inspiration from author Raymond Carver, his past relationships, and his contemporaries in the anti-folk scene. Taking a break from stripped-down singer/songwriter fare, he and friend Nan Turner collaborated on the food-obsessed lo-fi pop of Schwervon!. By 2002, the upswing in attention generated by acts such as the Moldy Peaches had given the anti-folk scene its biggest push since Beck broke through into the mainstream, and Mason was able to tour Europe to enthusiastic crowds. Released the same year, Call It What You Want, This Is Antifolk captured the best of the burgeoning scene, with Mason both collecting the performances and contributing his own.
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