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Ten Tasty Riffs – The Material

You know who I miss? The Material.

Now, sure – we got the Grey States 2018 EP after a long hiatus, and the band is certainly still around… but Everything I Want to Say dropped in 2013 and suddenly that feels like a long, long time ago.

Full of huge, pop punk/alt rock Colleen D’Agostino-led choruses and some excellent instrumentation across the board, The Material came to prominence around the same time Paramore and Flyleaf were hitting their stride. Fully taking advantage of the pop punk explosion of the mid-2000s and completely flourishing as a result, The Material had a little something about them that always stuck in my head. And, of course, getting ‘stuck in my head’ is kind of the premise for this series.

So, welcome back friends, for another Ten Tasty Riffs! And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, today’s focus will be on The Material. As always, this isn’t a ‘best of’ list – just an opportunity to talk about some excellent guitar riffs that I personally have a fun time listening to.

#10 – ‘Life Vest’ (‘Huge’ Opening Guitar Riff)

Kicking off our list today is an absolute monster of a riff. After a little twangy chord progression builds just enough tension, the harmonics screech at 0:25 and immediately Jon Moreaux and Roi Elam explode through the mix. The distortion. The power chords. The octaves. It’s all so very, very satisfying, and showcases a somewhat heavier side to The Material’s discography.

#9 – ‘Wayside’ (Dissonant/’Reverby’ Main Riff)

This one’s a little more subtle. Whilst the chorus guitar riff maintains the signature The Material ‘huge chorus’, the opening ‘Wayside’ riff is a simple progression of reverb-heavy notes that really capture the emotional core of the track. Appearing in the bridge again before a short-but-sweet tremolo-picked solo, it’s a moment that absolutely shines.

#8 – ‘Born to Make a Sound’ (Breakdown/Harmonics Riff)

I won’t lie, I probably could have picked any riff from this song and it would have easily qualified. The opening riff is kickass, the massive chord progression that follows kicks even more ass, even the chuggy palm-muted verse riffs keep your head bobbing relentlessly, but you know what? That brief distortion-heavy breakdown with the harmonics thrown in at 2:57? Yes. More of that please.

#7 – ‘Appearances’ (Opening/Main Riff)

Both this song and this guitar riff is classic The Material at its highest order. D’Agostino is in excellent form here, but the main guitar riff that opens/closes the track and pops up throughout is catchy as hell and instantly recognizable to any listener of The Material. Also, that cheeky little guitar squeal in the last five seconds of the track? Bloody delicious.

#6 – ‘With One Voice’ (The entire 1:04 to 1:27 section)

You know what? When pop punk is done right, this is what it sounds like. This one is a little bit of a cheat as it’s not really just a riff, but this section is just too damn fun not to include in this list. The riffs are huge, the percussion even more so. It’s a spectacular way to kick off the more energetic side to ‘With One Voice’ and I love it every time.

#5 – ‘Skin and Bones’ (‘Bendy’ Lead Bridge Riff)

This one comes in at 2:15 and delivers a great example of less-is-more: in just four extremely brief stabs of guitar distortion, the emotional core of the track peaks before settling down again for the more mellow chord progression that follows. I could have probably just as easily chosen the cool lead outro, but honestly the 2:15 riff sticks in my mind far more often.

#4 – ‘Bottles’ (Gentle Bridge Riff)

This song hits a very special place for me. The subject material resonates more than I care to admit, and after the far heavier second chorus is through we are treated to an extremely mellow section that comes in 2:12 alongside a beautifully gentle lead riff. It’s very simple, but another fantastic example of less sometimes being so much more.

#3 – ‘No One Has to Know’ (‘One More Time Now!’)

I have no shame in admitting just how much of a sucker I am for final minute of this song. It’s another example of pop punk done right, and a perfect end to the Tomorrow EP.

#2 – ‘I’m Alive’ (Bridge Riff)

Similar to ‘Appearances’, this one is another example of an extremely catchy guitar riff in The Material’s arsenal. Kicking in as the 1:54 mark, this riff is just pure headbanging gold in every respect. Also, the introductory bass and guitar lead for this song is exquisite.

#1 – ‘Tonight I’m Letting Go’ (Outro Lead Riff)

You know what? Everything I Want to Say is full to the brim of excellent guitar riffs. We’ve covered four so far, and our final guitar riff of today’s Ten Tasty Riffs is another fine example of The Material’s lead guitarwork. Truth be told, the entire song is a blast, but that final lead guitar riff is the icing on the cake.

And that’s it from me for now! The Material is another one of those bands where my nostalgia kicks right in – here’s hoping that a future album is someday on the horizon…

Until next time!

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M. Stoneman

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